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Eve of Pentacost
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 5

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

Verse 1


David continues instant in prayer, 1, 2;

makes early application to God, 3;

and shows the hatred which God bears to the workers of

iniquity, 4-6.

His determination to worship God, and to implore direction and

support, 7, 8.

He points out the wickedness of his enemies, 9,

and the destruction they may expect, 10;

and then shows the happiness of those who trust in the Lord,

11, 12.


This Psalm is inscribed to the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David. As neginoth may signify all kinds of instruments struck with a plectrum, stringed instruments, those like the drum, cymbals, c. so nechiloth, from חל chal, to be hollow, to bore through, may signify any kind of wind instruments, such as the horn, trumpet, flute, c. See on the title to the preceding Psalm (Psalms 4:1-8). The Septuagint have, Εις το τελος, ὑπερ της κληρονομουσης, "In favour of her who obtains the inheritance." The Vulgate and Arabic have a similar reading. The word נחילות nechiloth they have derived from נחל nachal, to inherit. This may either refer to the Israelites who obtained the inheritance of the promised land, or to the Church of Christ which obtains through him, by faith and prayer, the inheritance among the saints in light. This Psalm is, especially, for the whole Church of God.

Verse Psalms 5:1. Give ear to my words — This is properly a morning hymn, as the preceding was an evening hymn. We have seen from the conclusion of the last Psalm that David was very happy, and lay down and slept in the peace and love of his God. When he opens his eyes on the following morning, he not only remembers but feels the happiness of which he spoke and with his first recollections he meditates on the goodness and mercy of God, and the glorious state of salvation into which he had been brought. He calls on God to give ear to his words; probably words of God's promises which he had been pleading.

Verse 2

Verse Psalms 5:2. Hearken unto the voice of my cry — We may easily find the process through which David's mind was now passing:

1. We have seen from the preceding Psalm that he lay down in a very happy frame of mind, and that he had enjoyed profound repose.

2. As soon as he awakes in the morning, his heart, having a right direction, resumes its work.

3. He meditates on God's goodness; and on his own happy state, though pursued by enemies, and only safe as long as God preserved him by an almighty hand and especial providence.

4. This shows him the need he has of the continual protection of the Most High; and therefore he begins to form his meditation and the desires of his heart into words, to which he entreats the Lord to give ear.

5. As he was accustomed to have answers to his prayers, he feels the necessity of being importunate! and therefore lifts up his voice.

6. Seeing the workers of iniquity, liars, and blood-thirsty men strong to accomplish their own purposes in the destruction of the godly, he becomes greatly in earnest, and cries unto the Lord: "Hearken unto the voice of my cry."

7. He knows that, in order to have a right answer, he must have a proper disposition of mind. He feels his subjection to the supreme authority of the Most High, and is ready to do his will and obey his laws; therefore he prays to God as his King: "Hearken, my King and my God." I have not only taken thee for my GOD, to save, defend, and make me happy; but I have taken thee for my KING, to govern, direct, and rule over me.

8. Knowing the necessity and success of prayer, he purposes to continue in the spirit and practice of it: "Unto thee will I pray." R. S. Jarchi gives this a pretty and pious turn: "When I have power to pray, and to ask for the things I need, then, O Lord, give ear to my words; but when I have no power to plead with thee, and fear seizes on my heart, then, O Lord, consider my meditation!"

Verse 3

Verse Psalms 5:3. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning — We find from this that he had not prayed in vain. He had received a blessed answer; God had lifted upon him the light of his countenance; and he therefore determines to be an early applicant at the throne of grace: "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning." He finds it good to begin the day with God; to let Divine things occupy the first place in his waking thoughts; as that which first occupies the mind on awaking is most likely to keep possession of the heart all the day through.

In the morning will I direct my prayer — Here seems to be a metaphor taken from an archer. He sees his mark; puts his arrow in his bow; directs his shaft to the mark, i.e., takes his aim; lets fly, and then looks up, to see if he have hit his mark. Prayers that have a right aim, will have a prompt answer; and he who sends up his petitions to God through Christ, from a warm, affectionate heart, may confidently look up for an answer, for it will come. If an immediate answer be not given, let not the upright heart suppose that the prayer is not heard. It has found its way to the throne; and there it is registered.

Verse 4

Verse Psalms 5:4. Neither shall evil dwell with thee. — As thou art holy, so thou hast pleasure only in holiness; and as to evil men, they shall never enter into thy glory; לא יגרך רע lo yegurecha ra, "the evil man shall not even sojourn with thee."

Verse 5

Verse Psalms 5:5. The foolish shall not stand — He is a fool and a madman who is running himself out of breath for no prize, who is fighting against the Almighty; this every wicked man does; therefore is every wicked man a fool and a madman.

Thou hatest all workers of iniquity — Some sin now and then, others generally; some constantly, and some labour in it with all their might. These are the WORKERS of iniquity. Such even the God of infinite love and mercy hates. Alas! what a portion have the workers of iniquity! the hatred of God Almighty!

Verse 6

Verse Psalms 5:6. That speak leasing — Falsity, from the Anglo-Saxon [A.S.] leasunge, a lie, falsity, deceit; from [A.S.] leas, lie, which is from the verb [A.S.] leasian, to lie. See on Psalms 4:2.

The Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. — איש דמים ish damim, the man of bloods; for he who has the spirit of a murderer, will rarely end with one bloodshedding. So the Jews, who clamoured for the blood of our Lord, added to that, as far and as long as they could, the blood of his disciples.

Verse 7

Verse Psalms 5:7. In the multitude of thy mercy — David considered it an inexpressible privilege to be permitted to attend public worship; and he knew that it was only through the multitude of God's mercy that he, or any man else, could enjoy such a privilege. He knew farther that, from the multitude of this mercy, he might receive innumerable blessings in his house. In this spirit, and with this dependence, he went to the house of the Lord. He who takes David's views of this subject will never, willingly, be absent from the means of grace.

In thy fear — Duly considering the infinite holiness of thy majesty, will I worship, אשתחוה eshtachaveh, will I bow and prostrate myself in the deepest self-abasement and humility.

Toward thy holy temple. — If David was the author of this Psalm, as is generally agreed, the temple was not built at this time: only the tabernacle then existed; and in the preceding clause he speaks of coming into the house, by which he must mean the tabernacle. But temple here may signify the holy of holies, before which David might prostrate himself while in the house, i.e., the court of the tabernacle. Even in the house of God, there is the temple of God; the place where the Divine Shechinah dwells. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. In him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. In all ages and dispensations, Jesus was ever the temple where the Supreme Deity was met with and worshipped. The human nature of Jesus was the real temple of the Deity. Nowhere else can God be found.

Verse 8

Verse Psalms 5:8. Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness — When entered into the house, and prostrated before the temple, he knew that, unless God continued to lead and direct, he was not likely to profit even by such great advantages. We need God not only to bring us to his house, but to keep our feet while we are there.

Because of mine enemies — His conduct was marked; his enemies looked upon and watched him with an evil eye. They would have been glad of his halting, that they might have brought a reproach on the good cause which he had espoused. O how cautiously should those walk who make a profession of living to God, of knowing themselves to be in his favour, and of being delivered from all sin in this life!

Make thy way straight — Show me that I must go right on; and let thy light always shine on my path, that I may see how to proceed.

Verse 9

Verse Psalms 5:9. No faithfulness in their mouth — They make professions of friendship; but all is hollow and deceitful: "They flatter with their tongue."

Very wickedness — Their heart is full of all kinds of depravity.

Their throat is an open sepulchre — It is continually gaping for the dead; and sends forth effluvia destructive to the living. I fear that this is too true a picture of the whole human race, totally corrupt within, and abominable without. The heart is the centre and spring of this corruption; and the words and actions of men, which proceed from this source, will send out incessant streams of various impurity; and thus they continue till the grace of God changes and purifies the heart.

Verse 10

Verse Psalms 5:10. Destroy thou them, O God — All these apparently imprecatory declarations should be translated in the future tense, to which they belong; and which shows them to be prophetic. Thou WILT destroy them; thou WILT cast them out, &c.

Verse 11

Verse Psalms 5:11. Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice — Such expressions as these should be translated in the same way, declaratively and prophetically: "All those who put their trust in thee SHALL rejoice,-SHALL ever shout for joy."

Verse 12

Verse Psalms 5:12. For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous — A righteous soul is a peculiar object of God's affectionate regards; and therefore will be a subject of continual blessing.

With favour — Literally, Like a shield, thy favour will crown him. God loves such; and this love is their defence. In all places, times and circumstances, it will preserve them. "Keep yourselves," says the apostle, "in the love of God." He who abides in this love need not fear the face of any adversary. Thus ended the morning's devotion of this excellent man: a model by which every Christian may frame his own.


This Psalm consists of FIVE parts: -

I. An introduction, in which he petitions to be heard; professes his earnestness about it, Psalms 5:1-3; and his confidence of audience.

II. He delivers his petition, Psalms 5:8; and the reason of it-his enemies.

III. These enemies he circumstantially describes, Psalms 5:9.

IV. He prophesies that God will destroy them, Psalms 5:10.

V. He prays for the Church, that God would preserve it, Psalms 5:11-12.


1. In the entrance he prays very earnestly for audience; he shows that he meant to be serious and fervent in it; and he chooses a variety of words to express the same thing, which rise by degrees in the description: 1. He rises from meditation; 2. To words; 3. From words to a voice; 4. From a voice to a cry. Then he desires God, 1. To consider. 2, To give ear. 3. To hearken. 1. He considers, who weighs the justice of the cause. 2. He gives ear, who would understand what the suppliant means. 3. He attends and hearkens, who intends to satisfy the petitioner.

2. The reasons he uses here to beget audience are very considerable: -

1. The relation that was between him and his God: "Thou art my King and my God."

2. That he would sue to none other: "To thee will I pray;" which he illustrates, 1. From the time. It is a morning petition. 2. It was a well composed and ordered prayer. 3. He would lift up his eyes with it; that is, have all his hope and expectation exercised in it. "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning; I will direct my prayer unto thee, and look up."

3. The third reason is taken from the nature of God: whom he will and whom he will not hear. 1. Persevering sinners God will not regard. 2. To the upright he is ready to look. The sinners whom God will not hear he thus describes: 1. Men who delighted in wickedness, evil, foolish workers of iniquity - liars - blood-thirsty and deceitful. Now it was not likely that God should hear such: "For thou art not a God who hast pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee." These it is said he hated; these he would destroy; these he did abhor. 2. But on the contrary, he who was faithful; who relied on God; who feared the Lord; who attended the ordinances of his house; who worshipped towards his temple; and who came, not trusting to himself, but in the multitude of God's mercies; him he would hear.

II. David, having petitioned for audience, and delivered the grounds of his confidence, brings forth his petition that his life may be holy and innocent: -

1. "Lead me in thy righteousness."

2. "Make thy way straight before me." For which he gives this reason: "Because of mine enemies."

III. These his enemies he circumstantially describes: -

1. By their MOUTH: "There is no faithfulness in their mouth."

2. By their HEART: "Their inward parts are very wickedness."

3. By their THROAT: "Their throat is an open sepulchre."

4. By their TONGUE: "They flatter with their tongue."

IV. Then he proceeds to prophesy against these enemies: -

1. God will destroy them.

2. They shall fall by their own counsels.

3. They shall be cast out in the multitude of their transgressions. For which predictions he gives this reason: They are rebels. For they have rebelled against thee. Rebels, not against David, but against God. They have not rejected me, but they have rejected thee.

V. The conclusion contains his prayer for God's people, whom he here describes: 1. They are righteous. 2. They put their trust in God. 3. They love his name.

And he prays for them, that, 1. They may be happy; that they may shout for joy. 2. They may be joyful in God.

And he expects an answer; because, 1. God defends them. 2. He will continue to bless them. 3. He will with his favour compass them as with a shield.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/psalms-5.html. 1832.
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