Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Col, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
As Augustine begins his comments on Psalm 4, he engages in a brief reflection on the meaning of the notation as a Psalm of David. He makes a distinction between a Psalm and a Song, but that difference is not altogether clear (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318670). He goes on, in the next vrse, to reflect on the joy and comfort contained in knowledge that God hears the cry of his people. It is significant to Augustine that the Psalmist first reflects on God in the third person (he heard) and then addresses God in the second person (you have enlarged me)(Augustine Psalms, loc. 318678). Because of this address, Augustine does not think Christ is the one making the address, because Christ did not find the Father silent and unanswering (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318675). The statement, however, could have been made in sympathy for us, as we suffer those infirmities frequently.
Verse two asks how long we will suffer from the vanity of others, but verse three refers to the fact that God continues to raise up His Holy One (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318691). Augustine notes a shift in the topic after verse three (his verse four) caused by the intervention of a Diapsalma, breaking the flow of the ideas (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318699).
The plot resumes with the confidence that God hears our cries. For this reason, verse four says, “Be ye angry, and sin not” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318707). Augustine finds he can interpret this in two ways. First, even if we are angry, we are to avoid sin. Second, we are to be angry with ourselves for our past sin, therefore repent and avoid sin (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318715). Regardless, the outcome in verse five is the same. We “offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and hope in the Lord.” It is not clear to Augustine what this particular sacrifice is (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318723). The right object of our hope in the Lord is a matter of some concern to Augustine. Certainly we hope for good things from the Lord, and he considers those to be the inward good (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318731). This good, says Augustine, is stamped on the Christian by God just as an image is stamped on a coin. God places his joy and gladness into his people (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318739).
The Psalm moves on to speak of the way those who pursue temporal things will be distracted from what God has given (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318755). Seeking those things we can perceive with our external eyes is not a comfort. Rather, in verse eight, we look to God and find rest. Augustine is clear that the future tense used here is significant. The real rest in God is yet to come, in the day of resurrection. This is the hope of the Psalmist. Again, as the Psalm closes, the verb tense is important. Though it is a future hope, it has already been given, in the past. The future hope is already here (Augustine Psalms, loc. (Augustine Psalms, loc. (Augustine Psalms, loc. 318771).