4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Man’s experience on earth is such that committing sin is more common than refraining from it. At every provocation or temptation, man finds himself easily in the sway of sin, unless he guards himself with God’s help. In fact, even without any external provocation or temptation, man is found gravitating towards sin. So, the counsel by David is a crucial one to us all. David’s admonition to everyone is: “Stand in awe, and sin not”.
The Hebrew word translated as “stand in awe” carries the idea of trembling within. Some have translated it as “be angry”, suggesting that Paul had taken his admonition in Ephesians 4:26 – “Be ye angry, and sin not” – from David’s words. There may be some truth in that. David was here addressing men who were trying to discredit him with their vain words and lies (cf. v. 2). His counsel to those restless men was to “stand in awe”, that they might abstain from sinning. They ought to tremble with godly fear regarding their sinful conduct and its consequences. Their hearts must be stirred against their sins.
We must heed David’s counsel so as to prevent ourselves from sinning foolishly. Let there be always a fear and dread upon our minds, which arise from a sense of divine holiness and justice against sin. There is no greater prevention against sin than a due sense of the presence of the Almighty God who “is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). If we nurture and maintain a holy reverence for our sovereign God’s glory, and a holy dread of His wrath and curse, we will not dare to provoke Him with our sinful conduct. Let us be “tremblers” rather than “triflers” before God.
David’s next advice against sin is to “commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still”. The proper attitude of awe ought to be nurtured by communing with our own hearts. Teaching ourselves how to think and act in a way that would rid our lives of all sinful conduct is a solemn duty we should not neglect. We must take time to look into our hearts to watch out for any seed of sin germinating within us. We must search our hearts to uncover and remove the roots of our misdeeds, as well as teach our hearts the godly ways in which we ought to walk. To truly nurture our hearts, we must find a place and a time of quietness, hence the need to retire into our chamber (“bed”) and examine our hearts before the LORD.