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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 5

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Verses 1-3


Psalm 5 is a night prayer. The situation for the remnant is getting worse because the antichrist, the man of bloodshed and deceit (Psalms 5:6), has come to power. Also, it is a morning prayer because the psalmist submits his concerns to the LORD in the morning (Psalms 5:3).

In this psalm, the remnant expresses confidence that the LORD will overthrow the government of the antichrist (Psalms 5:1-Judges :). They then pray for guidance in dark days (Psalms 5:8-1 Samuel :) and the extermination of the followers of the antichrist (Psalms 5:10).

Prayer for Help

For “for the choir director” see at Psalm 4:1.

Unlike Psalm 4, which is “on stringed instruments” (Psalms 4:1), this psalm is suitable to be sung accompanied by “flute”. A flute, unlike a trumpet for example, is suited to evoke, display or accompany certain emotions. This can be joy (Isaiah 30:29; Ezekiel 28:13; Matthew 11:17), but it can also be sorrow (Jeremiah 48:36; Matthew 9:23). The flute seems to be the appropriate instrument here because it is precisely this instrument that can render and accompany the sighing of which David speaks in Psalms 5:1.

For “a Psalm of David” see at Psalm 3:1.

David addresses the LORD directly with “words” and “groaning” (Psalms 5:1), with a “cry for help” and “prayer” (Psalms 5:2). He asks Him to give “ears” to the “words” with which he cries out to Him (Psalms 5:1). He is in distress, as evidenced by his urgent appeal that God gives “ear” to his words”, and considers his “groaning”.

He wants to speak to God about his distress. Therefore he approaches Him in prayer. After all, there is no one else with whom he can or wants to speak about this. He also asks the LORD to pay attention to his groaning. Groaning can be done inaudibly. The burdened soul then has no words, but asks God to pay attention to it anyway.

God can reach our deepest feelings, He knows them. If we groan because we have no words to express what bothers us, He knows what we want to say. It reaches Him. We may know that the Holy Spirit gives words to our sighs (Romans 8:26).

One more time, David emphatically asks God to heed his voice when he cries out (Psalms 5:2). He addresses God in the awareness of the personal relationship he has with Him. He calls Him “my King and my God”. He calls the LORD here both King and God. In Psalm 2 he calls the Son of God King (Psalms 2:6-Judges :). This indicates that the Son, Who is King, is Himself God. He is “the King of the ages” (1 Timothy 1:17). God is always King, even then when His anointed king, David, has been removed from the throne and someone who has no right to it has taken his seat on that throne.

Having expressed his personal relationship to God in Psalms 5:2, in Psalms 5:3 he no longer asks if the LORD will listen (Psalms 5:1), but expresses the certainty that the LORD will. In the morning, God hears his voice. Morning is the time when the daily morning burnt offering is brought (Exodus 29:39). This reminds us that we may draw near to God on the basis of the sacrifice of His Son.

David does not pray occasionally, but “in the morning”, that is, every morning. As soon as he is awake, he seeks God in prayer. This is an important example for us. It is good, as soon as we are awake, to turn first to God, that our first words be to and for Him. In our foolishness we often seek Him last, only when we see no other way out.

David also says that he “orders” his prayer to God. The verb “order” is also used for arranging or ordering the wood and parts of the sacrifice on the altar (Genesis 22:9; Leviticus 1:7). This gives his morning prayer the character of a morning burnt offering (cf. Psalms 141:2).

After his prayer, he looks forward to God’s answer (cf. Micah 7:7; Habakkuk 2:1). This demonstrates his trust in Him. That trust is also echoed in the words “for to You I pray” at the end of Psalms 5:2. By this he is saying that he prays to the LORD as the one true God. He prays only to Him and not to anyone else.

These words are the motivation for him to pray. It means that he bases his request on the faithfulness of God to His covenant and promise. Our prayer is based on the faithfulness of God (1 John 1:9) to the work of Christ on the cross, that is, on the basis of the blood of the new covenant.

Verses 4-6

What God Hates and Abhors

Through his fellowship with God in prayer and his expectant anticipation of its answer, the psalmist also sees how God thinks about the wicked and their various forms of wickedness. The use of the words “not”, “no”, and again “not” in Psalms 5:4-Deuteronomy : makes it clear that God cannot have fellowship with evil. Those who have fellowship with God share in His feelings about evil (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:6).

David begins to say that God is not a God Who rejoices in wickedness (Psalms 5:4). Sin does not give joy, but disturbs every joy and renders it impossible as long as sin is not confessed and refrained from.

“No evil” that is the one who practices evil, may have the thought that he is very religious. With the evil-doer we can think of Absalom, and of him of whom he is a picture, the antichrist. He may assume that he has a right to be in God’s presence, but there is no question of that. He will not “dwell” there. God and evil do not go together. In the question, “for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) lies the answer.

In Psalms 5:5, David names a whole category of people whom he refers to as the “boastful”. They may imagine themselves to be wise and clever, but in reality they are insolent fools because they do not take God into account. They do not “stand” before God’s eyes. They have no support or hold anywhere when they are judged, but fall over. The entire crowd that captures the Lord Jesus is forced to fall down before Him when He merely utters His name “I am” (John 18:6).

God “hates”, “destroys” and “abhors” (Psalms 5:5-Joshua :) the wicked. He “hates all who do iniquity” (cf. Hebrews 1:9). God is love, yes, but never does His love come at the expense of His justice. His love is evidenced by His patience and the gift of His Son to everyone who believes in Him. Those who reject that offer of grace fall into the hands of the living God. And that is terrible (Hebrews 10:31). He hates not only sin, but also sinners who persist in evil. Sinners are judged according to their works, and because of their works they are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-2 Chronicles :).

Also “those who speak falsehood” are put to death by God. God is the God of truth. Liars are not in fellowship with Him. They follow the father of lies the devil (John 8:44). When we think of “the man of bloodshed and deceit”, we can think again first of all of Absalom. He is a follower of the devil, who is “a murderer from beginning” and “speaks a lie” (John 8:44). It also applies to the man in whom the devil reveals himself fully, “the man of lawlessness … the son of destruction”, which is the antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

‘Bloodshed and deceit’ are the two main features of the devil and the antichrist. ‘Bloodshed’ indicates violence, murder. ‘Deceit’ points to lies, deception, lust. We find them both when sin enters the world. The first sin is Satan deceiving Eve through lies and lust (Genesis 3:1-Judges :). The second sin is that of violence, Cain’s murder of Abel (Genesis 4:8). All sins can be traced back to one of these two features (cf. Genesis 6:11).

Verse 7

Fellowship With God in His House

While the evildoer, the fools, all who do injustice, the liars, and the man of bloodshed and violence are put to death (Psalms 5:6), David expresses the certainty that he will enter God’s house (Psalms 5:7). At that point, that is still the tabernacle. His assailants want to get him out of the way. “But” they count outside God, Who will bring him back into His house. He is outside of Jerusalem, but he will be in God’s house again. He knows this because even though he is outside of Jerusalem, he is still in God’s presence in prayer.

He is also aware that entering God’s house rests solely on God’s “abundant lovingkindness” and not on the basis of anything excellent in himself (cf. 2 Samuel 15:25). The Hebrew word for lovingkindness, chesed, means God’s faithfulness to His covenant. God’s lovingkindness to us is on the basis of His faithfulness to the blood of the new covenant, which is the blood of Christ.

When David is in God’s house, he realizes that God’s house is a holy place. He also realizes that bowing in fear of God, that is, with reverence and awe, is the only appropriate attitude toward Him.

Verses 8-10

Prayer for Guidance

David has prayed his prayer for help and he is confident of the answer. Yet the assailants who surround him are still present in full measure and strength. To know how to deal with them, he asks for the LORD’s guidance in Psalms 5:8. He does this in an impressive way, in a way that is an example for us to follow.

First, he asks that the LORD lead him in His righteousness. With that he asks for instruction in the ordinances of God, to keep them. If he heeds them, those ordinances will keep him in the way God has determined for him and in which He will provide justice for him. He does not come to God with a self-conceived plan to ask His blessing on it. He only wants to walk in the righteousness, the justice, of God. He asks God to make the way straight before him, so he will not stumble or go down a winding road or take a side way.

It is not the attitude and actions of his attackers that determine his tactics, but God and His righteousness. He asks this “for the sake of my foes”. If God leads him in His righteousness, it will be a testimony to his attackers and will not be attributed to his own clever actions. They will therefore have no occasion to rejoice in falling into sin.

What he asks in view of his foes relates primarily to what they say (Psalms 5:9). David speaks at length about this. He points to “their inward part”, “their throat”, and “their tongue”. His foes do not control him, but they do talk a lot about him. The evil of the tongue is often even more to be feared than violent acts. The slander campaign is running at full speed.

In what they say, “there is nothing reliable”. In “their inward part”, their heart, is “destruction”, that is what they are after, that is what they think up. What comes out of “their throat” is lethal. “An open grave” is a grave prepared for a dead person to be laid in (cf. Jeremiah 5:16). These images can only be recognized by those who live in fellowship with God. It is all hidden in “their tongue”, their smoothed tongue, with which they flatter unsuspecting listeners in order to drag them along to the destruction of death.

This description of the wicked is quoted by Paul in the letter to the Romans. Indeed, what David says of them here applies to every human being. It is one of the quotations by which Paul makes it clear that no man is righteous (Romans 3:13).

David, and in him the believing remnant in the end times, appeals to God to declare his attackers guilty (Psalms 5:10). On the basis of the declaration of guilt, he asks God to “let them fall” and do so “by their own devices”. The meaning is that they are brought down by their own devices. Their devices are causing their own fall (cf. Job 18:7; Hosea 11:6).

Their devices have led them to “the multitude of their transgressions”. Man’s thinking leads him to nothing but committing sins. God must thrust them out of His presence for that. Thus, He had to “thrust” Adam and Eve “out” of paradise because of their transgression of His commandment (Genesis 3:24).

David mentions the ground for condemnation and the exercise of judgment: “For they are rebellious against You.” They are rebellious and reluctant. He is not asking for God’s condemnation and judgment because they treat him, David, so defamatory, but because they profoundly fail to acknowledge God’s authority. In Psalm 4 he has tried to reach the hearts of the rebellious people (Psalms 4:2-Deuteronomy :). Now that this proves futile, only judgment remains. David does not himself exercise vengeance over the rebellious people, but hands it over to God (cf. Romans 12:19; 2 Timothy 4:14).

The cry for vengeance in Psalms 5:10 is typical of the psalms. This is appropriate for God’s earthly people. In the future, when the church has been caught up, the cry for vengeance on the wicked is heard from the mouths of believers (Revelation 6:10). However, just as here with David, they are asking God to do it; they are not asking for vengeance themselves. They are not asking for vengeance because they are revengeful, but because they long for justice to take its course.

For us, members of the New Testament church, asking for vengeance is not appropriate. Nor did the Lord Jesus exercise vengeance during His life on earth. He rebuked His disciples, when they wanted fire to come down from heaven, and explained to them the real purpose of His coming to earth (Luke 9:54-Titus :). He shows us to pray for our enemies (Luke 23:34). Stephen understood this and prayed for forgiveness for his murderers (Acts 7:60).

The faithful remnant of Israel, for whom the blessings are earthly, will possess the earth and enjoy all the blessings God has promised His earthly people. To enjoy that blessing in peace and rest, it is necessary that His people be delivered from the violent and deceitful men. That will happen through the judgment that Christ brings on those enemies. The New Testament believers of the church are delivered from their enemies in another way: they are taken away from the earth, where violent men reign, and go to heaven.

Verses 11-12

Those Who Love the Name

In Psalms 5:11, David, as the king of his people, speaks to God about “all who take refuge in You”. He asks for them if God will make them glad by the exercise of His righteousness in the extermination of the wicked. It concerns those who follow him in his rejection and share in his reproach. Those who seek protection from God thereby indicate that they “love” the “name” of the LORD (cf. Proverbs 18:10). The “name” points to the covenant. To “love” His “name” means that they seek protection on the basis of the covenant.

Trusting God and loving Him go together. Love trusts in protection. Whoever loves the Name, loves the Person because of His features, because of all that He is and does. The Name is everything in which He reveals Himself to man, what He shows to man in His features of Himself.

David asks God to allow those who trust and love Him and therefore seek protection from Him to share in exuberant joy. He speaks of being “glad”, “ever sing for joy”, and “exult in You”. This is a huge contrast to the judgment he asked for the disobedient in Psalms 5:10.

What David asks for his faithful followers, he asks on the basis of what he knows of God. This is evident from the word “for” (Psalms 5:12). By this he is saying that God is undeniably so. It is He “who blesses the righteous man”. God has great pleasure in everyone who lives as a righteous person.

This righteous may be surrounded by enemies, but they cannot do anything to him, because God surrounds him “with favor as with a shield”. Whoever wants to harm the righteous will have to penetrate that shield. Any attempt to do so is futile and doomed to failure, for it is the shield of God.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 5". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-5.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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