Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 5

Verse 1

Psalms 5:1 « To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David. » Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.

Ver. 1. To the chief Musician] {See Trapp on title for "Psalms 4:1"}

Upon Nehiloth] Upon wind instruments. Pneumatica, tribulata. The Rabbis say that this psalm was made and appointed to be sung concerning Doeg and Ahithophel.

Give ear to my words, O Lord] David knew him to be a prayer hearing God, Psalms 65:2, and that his ears were always open (as the doors of the Roman Aediles were) to hear complaints and requests: hence this prayer.

Consider my meditation] i.e. The conceptions of my soul uttered with a low voice ( Murmur meum, Jerome), but with most vehement affection. Mussitationem meam. All this the Hebrew word importeth.

Verse 2

Psalms 5:2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.

Ver. 2. Hearken unto the voice of my cry] He thrice repeats the same request, to show the greatness of his grief and the necessity of help from heaven. Let mind and mouth, spirit and speech, go together in prayer, and then it is right, the voice of the heart is simply necessary. Moses cried to God at the Red Sea, though he said nothing. The voice of the lips is of great use also; 1. For preventing of distraction; 2. For exciting devotion.

My king] And therefore help, O king, as she said, 2 Kings 5:24.

And my God] Who art in covenant with me, both offensive and defensive.

For unto thee will I cry] Thou art the proper object of prayer, as being omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent; and a God in covenant with thy people.

Verse 3

Psalms 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD in the morning will I direct [my prayer] unto thee, and will look up.

Ver. 3. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning] That fittest season, usually, for prayer, or any other serious business, παν εργον. The very heathens chose the morning chiefly for sacrifice, as Nestor in Homer, the Argonauts in Apollonius. The Persian magi sang hymns to their gods at break of day, and worshipped the rising sun. The Pinarii and Potitii (certain idolatrous priests) sacrificed every morning and evening to Hercules upon the great altar at Rome. The Jews counted and called it an abomination of desolation if at any time the morning and evening sacrifice to the Lord were intermitted; so should Christians if they offer not unto him twice a day at least, viz. morning and evening, prayers and praises. Mass and meat hinder no man’s thrift, say the very Papists. A whet is no let, a bait by the way hindereth not the journey; so neither doth prayer in a morning hinder a man’s business, be it never so hasty or weighty, but furthereth it rather. Cardinal Wolsey, though he were Lord Chancellor, when he came in a morning out of his privy chamber, would not go abroad till he had heard two masses, nor go to bed at night with any part of his service unsaid, no, not so much as one collect (His Life and Death, by his gentleman usher, p. 18.) Mahometans, whatever occasion they have by profit or pleasure, pray constantly five times a day. Christians have a charge to continue instant in prayer, προσκαρτερειν, and to let all business wait upon it, Romans 12:12, with Acts 6:4. David knew that if prayer stand still the trade of godliness standeth still. He, therefore, will be up and at it betimes, and rather break his sleep than leave such a duty undone.

In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up] Or, look out, spy like a watchman. Two military words the prophet here maketh use of; he would not only pray, but marshal up his prayers, put them in array. And when he had done, he would be as a spy upon a tower, to see whether he prevailed, whether he got the day. Gnarach. Ordinavit, aciem disposuit. Tsaphah. Speculando expectavit. Some men pray of course, or as a task, but never look after their prayers, or mark what answer: this is very great folly and oscitancy. Who sends forth a ship, and waits not for the return thereof? Who shoots an arrow, or casts a bowl, and looks not where it lands? Prayer is the soul’s arrow, angel, seed, dove, messenger, &c. And they that take not notice how they speed deal as scoffing Pilate did, who scornfully asked Christ, What is truth? but stayed not for the answer. If God shall hearken what David speaketh, David must likewise hearken what God would speak. He must look up to God, if God shall look out of himself to David; since he humbleth himself to behold things done in heaven, Psalms 113:6, by a wonderful condescension: how much more, then, to look upon man, that is a worm, and the son of man, that is a worm? Job 25:6. Tantus, tantillum?

Verse 4

Psalms 5:4 For thou [art] not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.

Ver. 4. For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness] As the kings of the earth have, saith R. Solomon. Alexander the Great, promising a crown of one hundred and eighty pounds to those of his guests that drank most, caused forty one to kill themselves with drinking for that crown. King Charles IX of France gave one Albertus Tudius, a huckster’s son, six hundred thousand crowns to teach him to swear with a grace (Camera. Med. Histor.). But God perfectly hateth wickedness and wicked persons. There were more remarkable expressions of God’s anger upon man’s sin, in the dead body of a man, than of a beast, Numbers 11:31-34. The one made unclean but till the evening, the other seven days. God hateth sin worse than he doth the devil, for he hateth the devil for sin’s sake, and not sin for the devil’s sake. He hateth sin naturally in whomsoever, like as we hate poison, whether it be in a toad or in a prince’s cabinet. We read of antipathies in nature between the elephant and the boar, the lion and the cock, the horse and the stone taraxippe, &c., but nothing so great as between God, the chiefest good, and sin, the utmost evil. Let us be like affected to our heavenly Father, as dear children, abhorring that which is evil, Romans 12:9, hating it as we do hell itself, so the Greek word there signifieth, abandoning it, and abstaining from all appearance of it, as it is offensivum Dei, et aversivum a Deo, an offence against God, and a breach of his law.

Neither shall evil dwell with thee] Heb. sojourn with thee, or be harboured as a guest, much less as a home dweller. Peter Martyr, out of Nathan’s parable, observeth, that lust was but a stranger to David, that lodged with him for a night only, 2 Samuel 12:4. Though corruption may intrude upon us, and enter, yet it may not be harboured, and dwell with us; lest the traveller become the man of the house.

Verse 5

Psalms 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Ver. 5. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight] Heb. before thine eyes, as thy favourites and attendants. Those furious, vain glorious mad caps, as they call them, roisterers, rioters, roaring boys, as they delight to call themselves by a woeful prolepsis of the present for the future. The word is used for mad, or raving with folly, Ecclesiastes 2:2; Ecclesiastes 2:12; Ecclesiastes 7:9; Ecclesiastes 10:13;, Isaiah 44:25;, Psalms 75:5; Psalms 73:3. God hath no need of such madmen, as Achish, king of Gath, said, when they brought David before him, and he feigned himself distracted. We likewise must have no fellowship with such, Ephesians 5:11, but reprove them rather.

Thou hatest all workers of iniquity] Though they not only act it, but art it, polish and trim their sin, that it may seem less heinons, as hypocrites do, who hide their wickedness with no less subtle sleights than Rachel hid the idols, Rahab the spies. But God will detect and detest them. {See Trapp on "Psalms 5:4"}

Verse 6

Psalms 5:6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

Ver. 6. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing] Whether in jest or earnest, those that lie in jest will, without repentance, go to hell in earnest. And for the officious lie some think it no fault; whereas, Galatians 1:10, we must not speak truth to please men, much less may we lie. The truth is, all lies are pernicious, all liars will be destroyed, but especially those that have taught their tongues to speak lies, Jeremiah 9:5, that take fast hold of deceit, Jeremiah 8:5, so that they cannot be got off without striving: such a one was Doeg, Saul, &c.

The Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man] Heb. the man of blood; for blood hath so many tongues as drops to cry for vengeance, Genesis 4:10, and God makes inquisition, Psalms 9:12, commanding that murderers should be drawn from the altar to the slaughter, Exodus 21:14. This made King James say, that if God did leave him to kill a man he would think God did not love him. And for deceitful persons, the Lord is the avenger of all such, 1 Thessalonians 4:6.

Verse 7

Psalms 5:7 But as for me, I will come [into] thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: [and] in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

Ver. 7. But as for me] Who am conscious of none of these foul and flagitious practices. The upright shall dwell in God’s presence, Job 12:16, Psalms 140:13 : not so the hypocrite and ungodly. He is like a vagabond begging at the gate, and not knowing whether the master of the house is providing for him an alms or a cudgel.

I will come into thine house, &c.] He knew that the ark and mercy seat were never separated.

And in thy fear will I worship, &c.] The fear of God is, 1. Servile; this David meaneth not. 2. Filial or amicable. And this, again, is either Timor culpae, fear to offend so good a God, and to forget his favour, Proverbs 8:13, or Timor cultus, the fear that is to be expressed in our addresses to Almighty God, that reverential godly fear, Jeremiah 5:22, Hebrews 12:28, Psalms 2:11, and here. Thus the very angels make their addresses to the most high God with greatest self abasements, Isaiah 6:5 How much more should we silly and sinful creatures! Omnino oportet nos orationis tempore curiam intrare coelestem (saith Bernard) in qua Rex regum stellato sedit solio, circumdante innumerabili et ineffabili beatorum spirituum exercitu. Quanta ergo cum reverentia, quanto timore, quanta illuc humilitate accedere, debet e palude sua procedens et repens vilis ranuncula! that is, at prayer time we should enter into the heavenly palace, where the King of kings sitteth in a stately throne, environed with an innumerable company of angels and saints. With how great reverence, therefore, godly fear, and humility should a poor paltry frog come, who is newly crawled out of his guzzle!

Verse 8

Psalms 5:8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.

Ver. 8. Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness] That is, in thy faithfulness, and according to thy promise in that behalf made unto me, to be my God and guide even unto death, to lead me in the way everlasting, to direct my footsteps in thy fear, &c. Deduc me ut non titubem, saith R. David, Lead me, that I stumble not; or if I do, yet that I fall not; for he that stumbleth and falleth not gets ground.

Because of mine enemies] Or, because of mine observers, who narrowly watch for my halting, that they might blaspheme thee, and thy religion through my default, 1 Samuel 18:9. Saul fixed his eyes upon David, but for no good to him. So 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:2, wicked men spy, and pry accurately (as the word εποπτευσαντες signifieth) into the courses of God’s people, to see what evil they can find out and fasten on. We should, therefore, walk exactly, Ephesians 5:15, and pray earnestly, as here.

Make thy way straight before my face] Remove all rubs and remoras, and lay all plain and level, that I may walk and not be weary, run and not faint, Isaiah 40:31.

Verse 9

Psalms 5:9 For [there is] no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part [is] very wickedness; their throat [is] an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.

Ver. 9. Nor there is no faithfulness in their mouth] Or, stedfastness; nothing that a man may bind or build upon, so slippery they are and untrustworthy.

Their inward part is very wickedness] Heb. woeful evils, heavy annoyances; their hearts are the devil’s storehouses.

Their throat is an open sepulchre] And so more dangerous than if it were shut, saith Aben Ezra here. In these open sepulchres, sending out much foul stench, they frequently bury the good names of their betters. But the comfort is, that there shall one day be a resurrection as well of names as of bodies. This the apostle accommodateth, Romans 3:13, to the universal corruption of mankind; and well he might, forasmuch as by nature there is never a better of us, but as there were many Marii in one Caesar, so are there many Doegs and Absaloms in the best of us all. As in water face answereth to face, so doth the heart of a man to a man.

They flatter with their tongue] The apostle, Romans 3:13, rendereth it, "With their tongues they have used deceit." And it is remarkable, that in the anatomy of a natural man there he stands more on the organs of speech, tongue, lips, mouth, throat, than on all the rest of the members.

Verse 10

Psalms 5:10 Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.

Ver. 10. Destroy thou them, O God] Heb. Condemn them as guilty. They were God’s enemies no less than David’s, and implacable, incorrigible; and hence he so prayeth against them. Est prophetia, non maledictio, saith Austin, Tom. 8, in Enarr. huius precationis.

Let them fall by their own counsels] As it befell Ahithophel, Haman, the gunpowder traitors. Or, let them fall from their own counsels, i.e. nor be able to effect their evil designs, but defeated, frustrated.

Cast them out, &c.] Let those who were once a terror now be a scorn; for they are even ripe for ruin, as having added rebellion to their sin, Job 34:37.

For they have rebelled against thee] And so are more thine enemies than mine, which maketh me so earnest against them, being swallowed up with a zeal for thy glory.

Verse 11

Psalms 5:11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

Ver. 11. But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice] Joy is the just man’s portion, et contra, Hosea 9:1, Isaiah 65:13-14; and, according to the measure of his faith, so is his joy, 1 Peter 1:8.

Let them ever shout] Or, shrill out, set up their note, as a peacock doth, which hath his name in Hebrew from this root.

Because thou defendest them] Heb. Thou over coverest them with thy sure defence, for upon all the glory shall be a defence. "And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day time from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain," Isaiah 4:5-6, Velut piis tabernaculum (R. David). The ram skins covering the ark from the violence of wind and weather figured out Christ’s protecting his people.

Let them also that love thy name] As all the virgins do who have smelt Christ’s name as an ointment poured out, Song of Solomon 1:3; {See Trapp on "Song of Solomon 1:3"}

Be joyful in thee] Heb. Exult, and leap for joy, as if they were dancing levaltos. Thus Dr Taylor, the martyr, fetched a frisk and danced when he was near unto the place where he should be burnt. Rabbi Zaddi Ben Levi repeated this verse when he was at the point of death (Mid. Tillin, in Psalms 5:1-12). Another, that in Psalms 32:6, "For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee." A third, that in Psalms 84:10, "One day in thy courts is better," &c. A fourth, that in Psalms 31:19, "O how great is thy goodness," &c.

Verse 12

Psalms 5:12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as [with] a shield.

Ver. 12. For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous] Yea, the righteous man shall abound with blessings, Proverbs 28:20; yea, God will bless all them that bless him, Genesis 12:3, or that but give him a cup of cold water, Matthew 10:42

With favour] Or, goodwill; Quae praecedit nostram bonam voluntatem, saith Augustine.

Wilt thou compass him] Or, encircle him as with a crown, and so make them "higher than the kings of the earth," Psalms 89:27, whose crowns cannot keep their heads from aching, but fill them with cares; which made one king cry out, O vilis pannus, &c. (Val. Max.), and another spake this of his crown,

Nobilis es fateor, rutilisque onerata lapillis,

Innumeris curis sed comitata venis.

Quod bene si nossent omnes expendere, nemo

Nemo foret qui te tollere vellet humo.

As with a shield] A piked shield, such as doth circuire tres partes hominis, compass about three parts of a man, saith R. Solomon on this text. Shields and bucklers, besides other bosses for ornament, had one great boss in the middle with a sharp pike in it for use, to pierce and wound the adversary. See Job 15:26. God will be all in all to his people, crown, shield, &c.: they may therefore well enough rejoice, shout, leap, as in the former verse.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/psalms-5.html. 1865-1868.