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Wednesday, June 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 5

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Verses 1-12


THIS psalm is assigned by some to the time of Manasseh, but contains nothing that is really opposed to the superscription—"A Psalm of David"—since, before the temple was built, the tabernacle was called "the temple" (Joshua 6:24; 1Sa 1:9; 1 Samuel 3:3; 2 Samuel 12:20). It is thoroughly "Davidic in style, concise, vigorous; with rapid transitions of thought and feeling" ('Speaker's Commentary'). With respect to the time in David's life whereto it should be assigned, there are no very distinct indications. It was not while he was in exile, for he had ready access to the house of God (verse 7); nor was it in the later years of his life, when he had no open adversaries. Perhaps "a short time before the revolt of Absalom, when David was aware of the machinations of conspirators against him under a bloodthirsty and treacherous chief" is the most probable date. The psalm is not marked by any notes of division, but seems to consist of five parts:

(1) a morning prayer (verses 1-3);

(2) a warning to the wicked (verses 4-6);

(3) a renewed prayer (verses 7, 8);

(4) a denunciation of woe on the wicked (verses 9, 10); and

(5) an anticipation of blessings and favour for the righteous (verses 11, 12).

The superscription, "To the Chief Musician upon Nehiloth," is thought to mean, either, continuously, "To the Chief Musician, for an accompaniment of wind instruments;" or, discontinuously, "To the Chief Musician: a Psalm upon inheritances.'' In the latter case, the respective "inheritances" of the wicked (verse 6) and the righteous (verses 11, 12) are supposed to be meant.

Psalms 5:1

Give ear to my words, O Lord (comp. Psalms 66:1; Psalms 86:6). Cries of this kind are common with the psalmists, even when they do not express the purport of their prayer. Consider my meditation; or, my silent musing (Kay); comp. Psalms 39:3, where the same word is used.

Psalms 5:2

Hearken unto the voice of my cry (comp. Psalms 27:7; Psalms 28:2; Psalms 64:1; Psalms 119:149; Psalms 130:2; Psalms 140:6). The Oriental habit of making requests in loud and shrill tones is the origin of these forms of speech. My King. David was "king" over Israel; but Jehovah was "King" over David (comp. Psalms 10:16; Psalms 29:10; Psalms 44:4; Psalms 47:6, etc.). And my God (see Psalms 84:3). For auto thee will I pray. To thee, i.e; and to no other.

Psalms 5:3

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord (compare "At evening, and at morning, and at noonday will I pray, and he shall hear my voice," Psalms 55:17; and see also Psalms 59:16; Psalms 88:13; Psalms 119:147). The appointment of daily morning and evening sacrifice (Numbers 28:4) pointed out morn and eve as times especially appropriate for prayer. A natural instinct suggested the same idea (Job 1:5). In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee. The repetition adds force to the implied injunction (comp. Psalms 130:6). The word translated "direct my prayer" means "arrange" or "set in order," as the priests did the altar before a sacrifice (Leviticus 1:7, Leviticus 1:8, Leviticus 1:12; Psalms 6:5; Numbers 28:4). Prayer is viewed as a sort of sacrificial act. And will look up; or, look out—keep on the watch—in expectation of my prayer being granted (see the Revised Version).

Psalms 5:4

For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness. Thou wilt listen to the prayer of a righteous man (Psalms 4:1), since thou dost not delight in wickedness, but in goodness. Neither shall evil dwell with thee. Light has no fellowship with darkness. Evil men can obtain no support from thee, who art All-holy. They will scarcely venture to ask thy aid.

Psalms 5:5

The foolish (or, the arrogant—"the boasters") shall not stand in thy light. Rather shall they be cast down and dismayed (Psalms 73:3, Psalms 73:18). Thou hatest all workers of iniquity. David has in mind the wicked and presumptuous men who have handed themselves together against him, and "take his contrary part" (Psalms 109:3, Prayer-book Version). These he is sure that God hates.

Psalms 5:6

Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing (comp. Psalms 4:2). David's adversaries were cunning, treacherous, and quite regardless of truth (see 2 Samuel 3:27; 2Sa 13:28; 2 Samuel 15:7-9; 2 Samuel 20:10, etc.). God's vengeance was sure to fall upon them, either in this world or in the next. The Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. An individual seems to be pointed at, who is probably Ahithophel.

Psalms 5:7

But … I will come into thy house; rather, unto thy house. David, as a layman, would not be entitled to enter within the tabernacle. He would draw near to it, probably bring his offering, and then worship toward it (see the following clause). In the multitude of thy mercy; or, through the abundance of thy mercy (comp. Psalms 69:13, Psalms 69:16). It was by God's mercy that David lived, that he was maintained in health and strength, that he had a desire to go to God's house, and was permitted to worship there. Of all these mercies he is deeply sensible. And in thy fear will I worship. David's worship is never without fear—a reverent sense of God's greatness, power, and perfect holiness. Toward thy holy temple. "David would, according to the custom of the worship then established, turn himself in the time of prayer to the place where the gracious presence of the Lord had its seat" (Hengstenberg; scrap. Psalms 28:2; Psa 138:7; 1 Kings 8:30, 1 Kings 8:33, 1Ki 8:38, 1 Kings 8:42, 1 Kings 8:44, 1 Kings 8:48; Daniel 6:10; Jonah 2:4).

Psalms 5:8

Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness. Here at last we find what David prayed for. Previously, we have only heard him entreat that his prayer may be heard (Psalms 5:1, Psalms 5:2), declare that he will pray early (Psalms 5:3), and before the tabernacle (Psalms 5:7); now we learn what his prayer is. It is that God will lead him in the path of his righteousness—that righteousness of which he is the pattern, and whereof he approves; and will "make his way plain for him," i.e. show it him clearly, so that he cannot mistake it. God is asked to do this, especially because of David's enemies, or of "those that lie in wait for him", lest, if he were to make a false step, they should triumph over him, and so he should bring discredit upon the cause of God and of his saints. Make thy way straight (plain, Revised Version) before my face. Not so much "smooth my way," or "make it level" or "easy," as "put it plainly before me" (scrap. Psalms 25:5; and Psalms 27:11, '"Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies").

Psalms 5:9

For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; or, no steadfastness—"no sincerity" (Kay, Cheyne); see the comment on Psalms 5:6. Their inward part is very wickedness; literally, wickednesses; i.e. nothing but wickedness. Their throat is an open sepulchre. "Emitting the noisome exhalations of a putrid heart" (Bishop Horns). They flatter with their tongue; literally, they make smooth their tongues, which may, perhaps, include flattery, but points rather to smooth arguments, specious reasonings, and the habit of making the worse appear the better cause. The last two clauses of this verse are quoted by St. Paul (Romans 3:13), and applied generally to the character of the ungodly.

Psalms 5:10

Destroy thou them, O God; rather, condemn them, or declare them guilty (Kay); κρῖνον αὐτούς (LXX.). Let them fall by their own counsels. No condemnation naturally follows punishment. David assumes that God will make his enemies fall; he prays that they may fall from the effect of their own counsels. The fate of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23) perhaps fulfilled this imprecation. Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; Thrust them out (Revised Version); "Thrust them down" (Kay). Punish them at once, in the midst of their many transgressions. For they have rebelled against thee. They have sinned, not against me only, but equally—nay, far more—against thee.

Psalms 5:11

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice. David is fond of contrasts. Here he sots the lot of the righteous over against that of the wicked. While the wicked "fall," and are "cast out," or "thrust down' to hell, the righteous "rejoice "—nay, ever shout for joy, displaying their feelings in the true Oriental manner. Because thou defendest them. There is no "because" in the original. The passage runs on without any change of construction, "Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice; let them ever shout for joy, and do thou defend them; and let them that love thy Name be joyful in thee."

Psalms 5:12

For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous. All the joy of the righteous springs from the fact that God's blessing is upon them. The sense of his favour fills their hearts with rejoicing. With favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield. Tsinnah (צִנָּה)is the large, long shield that protected the whole body. God's favour, thus encompassing a man, effectually secured him against all dangers.


Psalms 5:1-3


"Give ear," etc. There are prayers, some of the most fervent and spiritual, which refuse words, and need not language (Romans 8:26). But God, who hath given speech as the glory of our nature and the principal instrument of human progress, will have us consecrate it to this highest use-converse with our Maker, the Father of our spirits.

I. PRAYER IS PERSONAL CONVERSE WITH GOD. "My voice shalt thou hear" (Psalms 5:3). On this turns the whole reality, efficacy, spiritual benefit, of prayer.

1. Reality. We are not speaking into the air; or to an Infinite Impersonal Power that takes no heed; but to the living God. "He that planted the ear," etc. (Psalms 94:9). To the Father of spirits (Luke 11:13).

2. By efficacy of prayer we mean, not that prayer has a virtue or power of its own, not that God needs instructing what to give, or persuading to give. The very power to pray comes from him. But the earnest desire and pleading request of his children have real value in his sight; as they must have, if "God is love." True, God knows what we need, better than we do; but fervour of desire, perseverance and patient faith in asking, accompanied with childlike resignation to his will, are often the very conditions of its being wise and right (and therefore possible) for God to grant what we ask.

3. The spiritual benefit of prayer is no doubt its chief blessing. Nothing else could bring the soul so near to God. But this benefit turns on its reality and efficacy. God might have given promises without inviting or permitting us to pray; but faith claims and pleads his promises in prayer.

II. PRAYER SHOULD HAVE ITS SET SEASONS, though it should not be confined to any. "In the morning," i.e. every morning. Our day should begin with God (comp. Psalms 55:17; Daniel 6:10).

III. THE HABIT OF PRAYER MUST BE MAINTAINED BY HOLY PURPOSE, STEADFAST RESOLVE. "Will I direct," etc.; order and arrange it, gathering up all my powers to this great employment, this glorious privilege, as happy as holy. God's ear is not chained to a careless prayer, of which the offerer himself makes no account.

Psalms 5:4, Psalms 5:5

God's hatred of sin.

"Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness," etc. It needs courage to preach the severe side of Bible truth. Time was when preaching could not be too severe. Men loved to hear the thunder and see the fire of Sinai. Now it cannot be too flattering and soothing. A view of Divine love is current, not to say fashionable, which tends to reduce it to an easy-going apathetic tolerance, taking little account of the difference between moral good and evil. We need reminding that in God's judgment the opposition is irreconcilable, infinite, eternal. These verses strongly set forth God's hatred of sin.

I. GOD'S HATRED OF SIN IS INSEPARABLE FROM HIS HOLINESS. Having "no pleasure in wickedness" stands here for abhorrence, unchangeable opposition. Were it possible to conceive "a God that hath pleasure in wickedness," this would be the most terrible, hateful, and hideous of all imaginations—an Omnipotent Fiend I Even a wicked man must see that such a thought is monstrous. But if all sympathy with evil is thus abhorrent to the Divine character, the very thought revolting, it follows that sin must be infinitely hateful to God. Not to hate sin is characteristic of a bad man (Psalms 36:4); he finds in himself no standard by which to test and hate it. "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil!" (Psalms 97:10).

II. GOD'S HATRED OF SIN DOES NOT CONTRADICT HIS LOVE, but is inseparable from it. Because "God is love," he must desire the happiness of his creatures. But men are created to be happy through holiness. Sin poisons the very source of human happiness; fills the world with strife, injustice, cruelty, vice, disease, want, pain, tears, death. Where would Divine love be if our Maker calm]y looked upon the destruction of all that is best in his creatures, and the wholesale wreck of human happiness? Again, because "God is love," he must desire the love of his children. Love asks love. Sin robs God of his children's love; robs them of the very power of loving him, and of all the joy that can spring only from his love. Because "God is love," he must desire men to know him and converse with him; and in this communion grow up to their true spiritual stature (Ephesians 4:13). Sin tends to banish the knowledge of God from earth; to dry and choke the channel of communion with God (John 17:3; Romans 1:20, Romans 1:21, Romans 1:28; Ephesians 4:18).

III. How CAN HATRED OF EVIL BE RECONCILED WITH LOVE TO THE WRONG-DOER? How separate sin from sinners—the sinner from his sins? The gospel is the answer. By the atonement of the Son of God, and by the renewing power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:8; Titus 3:5, Titus 3:6; 1 Corinthians 6:11). The Old Testament Scriptures contain abundant promises of pardon to the penitent; and one wonderful example in King Manasseh (Exodus 34:6, Exodus 34:7; Psalms 32:1-11.; 2 Chronicles 33:12, 2 Chronicles 33:13). But Law, and fear of punishment, were necessarily predominant till "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." On the other hand, never forget that if the sinner will not and cannot separated from his sin, the New Testament is fully as severe as the Old (Matthew 7:23; Matthew 13:49, Matthew 13:50; Romans 2:8, Romans 2:9). The cross, which reveals God's love to sinners, is at the same time the most tremendous of all witnesses against sin (Romans 8:3, Romans 8:4).

Psalms 5:11

The joy of faith.

"Let all those … rejoice," etc. People who look on Bible religion as gloomy and joyless would do well to study the Book of Psalms. It is worth note that in this one book of Scripture the words "joy," "joyful," "glad," "gladness," "rejoice," occur more than ninety times. Truly the "river that maketh glad the city of God" is a full, pure, deep-flowing stream. Idle mirth, empty-headed and hollow-hearted gaiety (Ecclesiastes 7:6), you do not, indeed, find characterizing the psalmists or prophets. But for full-hearted, clear-voiced joy—the joy that sings on its pilgrim-way because it sees the rainbow in the cloud, and hears the Saviour's voice in the storm—there is no joy like that which the text speaks of—the joy of faith.

I. IT IS A GREAT JOY TO TRUST GOD. Trust is an indispensable element of a happy life. A suspicious, distrustful soul is like one walking in a fog, chilling, perplexing, distorting. One of a trustful nature who has no one to trust is like a lonely traveller, bunny and homeless. Mutual confidence is essential to love or friendship worthy the name. But the most faithful, loving friend may disappoint trust through weakness, ignorance, calamity, forgetfulness. Only the all-wise, all-loving, almighty, unchangeably faithful God is worthy of absolute trust—the perfect rest of the soul (Isaiah 26:3).

II. TRUST IN GOD IS FULL OF JOYFUL EXPECTATION. It lights up the future (else dim and dark) with the sunshine of certain hope. "We know," etc. (Romans 8:28). Care is the heaviest burden of life; to-morrow weighs heavier to most men than to-day; and this burden faith rolls off on to God (1 Peter 5:7; Isaiah 43:2).

III. TRUST IN GOD IS FULL OF JOYFUL EXPERIENCE. If it is joy to trust God, it is double joy to find by experience that he accepts the trust he invites; rewards the faith that lays hold on his promise.' Joshua's experience is the. experience,, of faith in all ages (Joshua 24:14). St. Paul could say at the end of his course, I know whom I have believed," etc. (2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:8).

IV. THE GOSPEL HAS OPENED A NEW AND FULLER FOUNTAIN OF JOY, by supplying a firmer foundation of faith, and clearer knowledge of God, in the Person of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:8).

CONCLUSION. If you have no joy in God, it must be because you do not know him; and this is because you do not believe him as speaking to you in his Son. Yet let no Christian despond if his joy in God be not what he desires, what he hears or reads of, what it reasonably should be. If we have not sunshine, let us be thankful for daylight. If even daylight, for a while, fail, let us remember Isaiah 50:10, and "watch for the morning" (Psalms 130:6).


Psalms 5:1-12

A morning prayer: for sanctuary service: in evil times.

This psalm seems to have been written for, or handed to the leader of a special choir, that he might adapt music for its use in sanctuary worship; not necessarily that of the temple—for its composition was probably anterior to the erection of that building—but for use in the services of that temporary structure which preceded it, and which, though but temporary, and even fragile in a material sense, was nevertheless in a high and holy sense the dwelling-place of God, yea, "the palace of the great King." £ Note: No material splendours of gold, silver, and precious stones can make a temple without the Real Presence; but however humble the structure, the Real Presence therein will make it a temple of God. Whether David was actually the penman of this psalm or no, matters not. It is evidently the composition of a true saint of God, and reflects in its several verses the spirit of the time and circumstances under which it was written. And not only so. But it shows us that the saints of olden time were wont to regard the house of God as a house of prayer, and to let their prayers be an unburdening of the heart to God on every matter of immediate and pressing concern. Note: In our prayers in God's house we have no need to include everything in one service. Nor are we bound to use the words of another's prayers, except as far as they suit our case at the line. Still less need we rack and tear such a psalm as this to find in it the whole gospel. That would not only be a strange anachronism, £ but we should even lose very much by missing the historic setting and aim of the psalm. Who cannot find comfort in the obvious fact that the Old Testament saints, in their prayers, used to tell God everything, just as it seemed to them, and as they felt about it? There is no greater boon in life than to have a friend who will never misunderstand us, and to whom we can tell anything, knowing that he will hide all our folly in his loving forgetfulness, and sympathize with all our cares. Such perfection of friendship is found in God alone. And we have in this psalm a beautiful illustration of the use which the psalmist made thereof.

I. THE PSALMIST LAYS THE ENTIRE SITUATION BEFORE GOD. (Psalms 5:8, Psalms 5:9, "mine enemies," equivalent to" those that lie in wait for me.") The whole of the ninth verse shows the treachery and hollowness that mark the hostile bands, and the consequent peril in which the people of God were on that account. (This verse is one of those quoted by the Apostle Paul in proof of human depravity. Nor is there any contrariety to reason in his so doing. For while the psalm speaks of all this wickedness in its relation to society, St. Paul speaks of similar wickedness in its relation to the Law of God and to the God of law. And it is because the psalmist knows how foreign to the nature of God all this iniquity is, that he brings it before God in prayer, and asks him to put it to shame.) Note: Let us learn to pray minutely, and not to lose ourselves in generalities.

II. IN DOING THIS HE RECOGNIZES AN ENDEARING RELATION. (Psalms 5:2.) "My King," "my God." God was not a far-distant Being, only remotely related. The name "Jehovah" brought him near as Israel's redeeming God; and that very name, which removes us infinitely from anthropomorphism, was the one in which the saints of old found their joy and glory. They could call God flair God. Under the New Testament our thoughts of God may be more sweet and endearing still.

III. HE OBSERVES A DEVOUT AND WISE METHOD IN HIS PRAYER. "In the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. The meaning is—I will order it accurately, £ and then look out to see whether it has sped, and when the answer will come. (Many of the old divines are very felicitous in their treatment of these two words.) Sometimes, indeed, the yearning Godward is too deep for outward expression (see Psalms 5:1, "consider my meditation," i.e. understand my murmuring). "Lord, read the desires of my heart by thine all-piercing eye—and interpret my petitions in thine own loving-kindness before they rise to my lips." Happy they who know that they have a God with whom they can thus plead, and who have learned the blessed art of thus pleading with God!

IV. HE SETS HIS APPLICATION ON SUBSTANTIAL GROUNDS. (Psalms 5:4-6.) The psalmist knows the character of God, and the righteousness of his administration; and in these verses he shows us how real was the revelation on these great themes which God had given in his Law (see Psalms 103:6, Psalms 103:7). All these glorious disclosures of the holiness of God are reiterated and confirmed in the teaching and redemption of the Son of God. (For the specific phrases, see the Exposition; also Perowne and Cheyne.) It is because we know what God is, and the principles of his government, that we can under all circumstances commend ourselves, the Church, and the world to him.


1. For himself. (Psalms 5:8.) Beautiful! He wants

(1) to go along God's way, not his own;

(2) to be shown clearly what that way is; and then

(3) to be led along that way.

He who thus puts himself into God's hand, wanting only to be led aright, shall never be put to shame.

2. For the people of God. (Psalms 5:11.) He prays that in the midst of the whirl and tumult which surround them, the righteous may ever ring out a peal of joy because of God's protecting care and love.

3. For evil ones. (Psalms 5:10.) He prays that they may be

(1) held guilty and condemned for their transgressions. Yea

(2) rejected by God, even as they had themselves rejected God.

We are not bound to imitate the psalmist in such petitions. Jesus Christ tells us that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than the greatest of Old Testament prophets. They could not rise above the level of their inspiration, nor advance in prayer beyond the point their understanding had reached in those days. £ For us it would be far more appropriate to pray for the conversion of God's enemies by the power of his love and grace.

VI. THERE IS HERE A CONFIDENT ASSURANCE EXPRESSED. (Psalms 5:12, "Thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous … as with a shield.") The word means, not a small shield which may be held out to ward off a dart, but a large buckler which can cover one around as with armour. So effective are the Divine protection and care with which he guards his own. May such protection ever be ours!

VII. IT IS WORTHY OF NOTE AT WHAT HOUR OF THE DAY THIS PRAYER IS OFFERED. We are twice told in the third verse, "in the morning." The early morn, when the frame is freshest and the spirit freest, is the best time for devotion. The early hours, when sanctified by prayer, will help us to sanctify the whole day for God. Before ever we look upon the face of man, let us catch a morning smile from our Father in heaven; and we shall find how true it is that—

"His morning smiles bless all the day."



Psalms 5:1-12

A morning prayer.

Every new day the priests began anew the service of God in the temple. The altar was set in order, the lamb was made ready, and as soon as the sign of day was given the morning sacrifice was offered (Le Psalms 6:5; Numbers 28:4). In this there was a lesson for all times. Every new day calls for a fresh consecration of ourselves to God. "When first thine eyes unveil, give thy soul leave to do the like" (Vaughan). In this morning prayer we find

I. FAITH IN GOD'S FATHERLY CHARACTER. The cry, "Give ear," is that of a child to its father. The priests stood for others. They offered sacrifices not only for themselves, but for the people. But for us there is but one Priest and one Sacrifice. Through Christ we have access to God as our Father, and can cry to him for help in every time of need (Ephesians 2:16; Hebrews 4:16).

II. CONFIDENCE IN GOD'S HOLY RULE. (Psalms 5:3-7.) The psalmist speaks of what he knows. God is just and holy. The more we think, the more will our confidence grow. We rise from the faith that God is our Father, to the grand belief that he is "King," and that he will defend the right. But let us keep in mind what sin is. Some in these days make light of sin. It is an inherited weakness, a necessary evil for which circumstances are to be blamed more than the sinner. These and such-like excuses are made, and, if this is not enough, it is said, "Somehow things will come right. If not here, yet in the future world all will be well. To such the "wrath" of God is but a figure of speech, and "hell" the invention of our slavish fears. Against all such dangerous teaching, let us place the wholesome doctrine of the psalmist and of our Lord.

III. EXPECTATION OF GOD'S GRACIOUS INTERPOSITION. (Psalms 5:8-10.) Help is needed, and earnestly implored. The cry is not for mere personal ease or comfort, but for such deliverance as shall be for God's glory. The soul is in sympathy with God, and can not only pray, but "look up" with the patience of hope.

1. Guidance. (Psalms 5:9.) We confess our weakness; hut we east ourselves on God for help. He is our Shepherd. We trust his love, and surrender ourselves to his leading. It is for him to go before; it is for us as his sheep to hear his voice and follow him.

2. Defence. (Psalms 5:11.) When Luther was asked at Augsburg where he should find shelter if his patron, the Elector of Saxony, deserted him, his answer was, "Under the shield of Heaven" This shield is for all. Other defences may fail; but here we are safe from all the assaults of the enemy.

3. Blessedness. (Psalms 5:12.) God is pledged to his people by his character as well as by his covenant. Trust in him awakens joy—pure, ardent, comforting, not like the joy of the fool (Ecclesiastes 7:6), but real and abiding, as God's Name. Trust also calls forth praise. What Jeremiah said in the pit, God's people say in the sunshine, O Lord, there is none like unto thee. They are as Naphtali, "satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 33:23). Therefore they sing, "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy Refuge" (Deuteronomy 33:26, Deuteronomy 33:27).—W.F.


Psalms 5:1-7

Prayer for deliverance from wicked men.

The psalmist prays to be delivered from, not open persecution, but the scoff and scourge of the tongue at all goodness and service to God. When irreligion prevails, it is difficult to resist it and stand firm in our allegiance to God.


1. He prays God as the Highest to hearken to his meditations, his words, and his cry. All true prayer begins in thought or meditation, goes on to express itself in uttered words, and rises at last into an earnest cry. Not till we muse on our own needs and difficulties does the fire of devotion burn; then do we break into earnest pleading, and deep, if not loud, cries.

2. The urgency and eagerness of his suit. In the morning, at the earliest opportunity, at the time of the morning sacrifice in the temple, do I wait upon thee with my prayer. Urgent matters take precedence of all others, and we cannot rest till we set about them.

3. He waited expectant for the answer to his prayer. (Psalms 5:3.) "Watched"—or looked out, not "up"—to see what came of it, and how it would be answered. This is both natural and reasonable; for God has promised to answer true prayer.

II. THE GROUND OF HIS PRAYER. God is the righteous God, and as such:

1. He has no sympathy with the ways of the wicked. (Psalms 5:4.) Not when they seem to prosper—in trade, politics, or open irreligion. And they seem to prosper only for a time.

2. God has no fellowship with the irreligious. (Psalms 5:5.) "The foolish shall not stand in thy sight;' or before thee, as favoured courtiers stand in the presence of a king. God has no gracious intercourse or communion with wicked men. Therefore I can ask for his help with confidence; for he is gracious to the righteous.

3. The false and the cruel are doomed to perish. (Psalms 5:6.) Their own devices destroy them; that is God's appointment. God's action is commonly by law, anti not by personal interference; he abhors and destroys men by the opposition of his laws to all deceit and cruelty.

III. THE FREEDOM AND AWE OF THE PSALMIST IN DRAWING NIGH TO GOD. (Psalms 5:7, "I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy loving-kindness.") The wicked cannot stand in thy sight; but I can. Note:

1. The freedom and confidence of trite worship. He feels the infinite mercy and privilege of enjoying access to God.

2. The arm of God felt in all true worship. "In thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." When freedom and reverence are blended, then is our worship the truest and most acceptable.—S.

Psalms 5:8-12

The righteousness of God.

This second strophe of the psalm is very much like the first in substance, the matter running parallel with Psalms 5:3-7. The fundamental thought on which all is based is that of the righteousness of God. The whole prayer is framed on that conception.


1. For righteous guidance. "Lead me in thy righteousness; make thy way [the right way] plain to me."

2. For righteous deliverance. The unrighteous lay in wait for him—threatened his safety. There was "no faithfulness in their mouth;" they used slander and treachery when they dared not use open violence. Their inward part, their souls. were full of evil designs and purposes. "Their throat is like an open sepulchre," which yawns for his destruction. Their speech, fair and smooth, to flatter and put him off his guard and lure him on. With them, mouth, heart, throat, and tongue are all instruments of evil; and their malice was such that he needed the care and guidance of the righteous power above.

II. A PRAYER FOR RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION. (Psalms 5:10.) Punish. "The word properly signifies such a decision and judgment as would show and manifest what sort of neighbours they are when their ungodly dispositions are disclosed and every one is made known." Show them guilty. Let them fall through or because of their own counsels. Their counsels are of such an evil nature that they must in the end ensure their destruction. By means of their transgressions thrust them away—the same thought in substance as the last. But the great argument for retribution is—they have rebelled against thee. The enemies of the psalmist are the enemies of God. God's cause and that of his people are the same. Whoso toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye; "Saul, Saul, why porsecutest thou me?"

III. PRAYER FOR THE REALIZATION OF A RIGHTEOUS JOY. ("Psalms 5:11, Psalms 5:12.) This joy proceeds:

1. From the sense of refuge and defence we have in God.

2. From the love we have to God, for his goodness and righteousness.

3. From the knowledge we have that God does assuredly bless the righteous.—S.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Psalms 5". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/psalms-5.html. 1897.
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