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Psalms 5:1-12. Title. " Nehiloth " is interpreted by some to denote wind-instruments of musick ; and Neginoth, (vi. title,) stringed instruments. Others suppose that " Nehiloth" implies, that the Psalm was sung in parts. But the word occurs no where else in Scripture, and the meaning of it is uncertain.
V. 1 . It is not evident, whether this psalm was composed during Absalom’s rebellion, or while. David was persecuted by Saul : but the latter seems most probable. The word rendered " meditation," appears to denote those inward thoughts, desires, fears, or sorrows, which break forth in earnest prayers, or are relieved by complaining unto God, and by pouring out the heart before him.
V. 2-6. (Notes, Psalms 10:16. Psalms 44:4. Habakkuk 1:12-17. Hebrews 12:14. Revelation 21:22-27.) The word rendered " foolish," signifies insane, or mad ; denoting the infatuation of sinners, when urged on by their unbridled passions, to venture all consequences for the sake of present gratification. (Note, Ecclesiastes 9:1-3.) While men continue impenitent, their characters are abominable in the sight of God, they abide under his wrath, and if they die in that state they must be eternally the objects of his abhorrence. The penitent sinner’s character and state are changed, and he is reconciled to God : but sin is irreconcilably the object of divine hatred. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Revelation 21:5-8
V. 7, 8. (Marg. Ref.} Mine enemies. (8) ’ Those who ’ observe me.’ Marg. My enemies ’ would gladly see me ’ trip, and thej watch for my halting ; therefore . . . order ’ my goings, . . . that I may never . . . fall, and give them any ’ advantage over me. . . . For with what triumph would ’ they blaze abroad my real faults, who now stick not to all manner of lies of me ?’ Bp. Patrick.
V. 9. St. Paul quotes this, among other scriptures, to prove the depravity of both Jews and Gentiles in an unconverted state. (Notes, Romans 3:9-20.) If the Israelites, with all their advantages, manifested such hateful dispositions, in opposing " the man after God’s own heart," and afterwards in their conduct towards their promised Messiah ; it is plain that the whole race must be corrupt and alienated from God; that nothing, except an internal renovation by the Spirit of God can make them holy; and that they can never find acceptance with God, upon the ground of their own obedience to his righteous laws ; but must be saved mercifully, if at all. The flattery, treachery,, and calumny, with which the Israelites behaved towards their anointed king, originated from their hatred to God and holiness ; and the profane and polluting discourse,, springing from the loathsome filthiness of their hearts, resembled the opening ’of a sepulchre, which would both be very noisome and unwholesome. Some, however, consider the open sepulchre as an emblem of rapacity and sensuality. (Note, /Proverbs 30:15-16.)
V. 10, 11. These verses might be rendered as follows: "Deal with them as guilty, O God! Let them fall by " their own counsels. Cast them out in the multitude of " their transgressions ; for they have rebelled against thee.
" But all those who put their trust in thee shall rejoice, " they shall shout for joy for ever, because thou defendest " them. They that love thy name shall be joyful in thee."
The future tense is indeed often used, for the imperative, or the optative mood, in the Hebrew, which has not that precision, as to tenses and moods, which prevails in many other languages. But where the literal rendering contains simply a prediction, and changing the future for the imperative, or optative, implies an imprecation, or; the literal version is frequently preferable. Yet it cannot be denied, that the form of imprecation is often used ; implying that the impenitent enemies of God and Christ will perish, with the approbation of all holy creatures ; and that the very prayers of believers for themselves and the church, will be answered in the destruction of their enemies. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 35:25-28
V. 12. Note, Psalms 3:3-5.
Before we offer our prayers unto the Lord, we should seriously meditate on his perfections and promises, and on our own character and wants ; that our words may be spoken with recollection, from a full heart, in a due sense of our indigence, dependence, and umworthiness, and with fervency and expectation. If we willingly submit to him as our King, and worship him as our God, we may expect every thing from his almighty favour. While many are eagerly presenting their petitions to earthly princes, let us make our requests known to our God and King. It is our privilege that we may come before him as often, and ask as much, as we will : and it must be our sin and folly, if we do not avail ourselves of his condescension and bounty.
We should take care, that he may hear our voice every morning, as the first and best employment of the day, in order that we may find help and comfort from him, in the various events of it : and let us not forget Him, " who " arose a great while before day, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed ; " lest we should yield to sloth, or admit carnal excuses for our negligence. (Note, Luke 6:12. P. O. 1- 19.) In this sacred exercise, our affections should be directed to the Lord, and we should look up to him for help ; expecting an answer from him, as we do to a letter which we have directed to a kind friend. Such prayer will determine the heart against every sin : for though the Lord pities sinners, yet lie " has no pleasure in iniquity ; " nor can we walk or dwell with him, while any sin reigns in our hearts. How great then is the folly and madness of the wicked ! and how will they endure to be driven from his presence, as the objects of his unchangeable and eternal detestation ! Indeed we none of js could come before God, if it were not for his abounding mercy : humility and reverence then become us in all cur worship ; and we must always look unto Jesus Christ, the true Temple, in whom God dwells, as reconciled to the believing sinner. (Note, 1 Kings 8:28-30.) His true worshippers will have many enemies and observers, which will increase their temptations, and render their path more perplexed : but if this excite them to greater watchfulness, and render them more fervent in prayer to be led in the straight way of righteousness, it will be of great service to them. We need not wonder at the cruelty, treachery, hypocrisy, or flattery of mirenemies, when we consider how David and how Christ was treated : but we should remember that we are by nature as depraved as our opposers ; that we may renewedly repent of the sinful thoughts, words, and actions of our past lives ; that we may still watch over our own hearts, and against all polluting or dissembling conversation ; and that we may bless God for restraining or converting grace, and for Jesus Christ and his salvation. We must by no means desire and pray for the destruction of our enemies ; but we may predict the ruin of God’s enemies, who will "fall by their own " counsels, and in the multitude of their iniquities ; " and their enmity to his people will be proved to have sprung from their rebellion against him. But we should earnestly pray for, and help, the joy of the righteous : they trust in the Lord’s mercy, grace, and providence, and desire to love his name and walk in his ways : he is their Shield and Salvation, and his favour shall protect and bless them for ever. Neither their former sins, nor their present defects, temptations, conflicts, or troubles, should be allowed to silence their praises, or prevent their rejoicing. Joy is their privilege, their duty, and their strength ; and they should be exhorted to " rejoice in the Lord always."
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Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 5". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany