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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 5

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David.

This psalm properly classes with the two preceding. It is a morning prayer (Psalms 5:3) of one who is hard pressed by enemies, wicked and false. In general, it is a prayer against the success of wicked men, and for the vindication of the persecuted righteous. It is ascribed to David, and partakes of his spirit and style, suiting well his circumstances while at Mahanaim. 2 Samuel 17:24. Psalms 5:7 (see note there) is no valid objection to this. Psalms 5:1-3 are a morning invocation; Psalms 5:4-6, an expression of confidence that God will defeat and punish wicked doers; Psalms 5:7-8, a vow of devotion to God, and a prayer for divine guidance; Psalms 5:9-11, a prayer against the wicked, and for the success of the righteous; Psalms 5:12 closes the whole with a confident assurance of God’s interposition and blessing. A pensive tone pervades the whole, while faith in God gives a silver lining to the dark cloud of the psalmist’s trials.


Nehiloth The word is in the plural feminine, and is more commonly supposed to denote the instruments on which the psalm was to be performed, namely: pipes, flutes. Furst takes it as the name of a musical choir residing at a city of similar name, as Hilen, (1 Chronicles 6:58,) or Holon, (Joshua 21:15,) a root form of nehiloth. The Septuagint and Vulgate take it, enigmatically, as denoting the object of the psalm; so, also, Luther, Hengstenberg, and others, translating, for an inheritance, or, concerning her who inherits, namely, the Church, or people of God, which inherits his blessing; for God will punish the wicked and reward his people with righteousness, which is the burden of the psalm. It is better, however, to take it literally, as a musical designation.

Verse 1

1. Meditation Literally, my deep sighing or moaning, such as one in profound thought and trouble would make hence meditation. But it is here the meditation of a soul in distress and perplexity talking to itself in sighs, and is in contrast to words in the previous hemistich. To his words David asks God to “give ear;” to his meditations, a discriminating attention, in order to know his thoughts. See Romans 8:27

Verse 2

2. Voice of my cry My loud cry, or my outcry. There is a rising in the description words, meditation, outcry. The last is the loud and earnest call for help of one who is ready to perish.

Verse 3

3. In the morning Showing that this is an early morning prayer, and that prayer is now his first business and sole reliance.

Will I direct my prayer The word prayer is not in the original. The word translated, “I will direct,” means to arrange, to set in order, and, in its ritualistic sense, to prepare or arrange in order for sacrifice, as Genesis 22:9; Leviticus 1:7-8; Leviticus 1:12. David had prepared himself unto the Lord by prayer and watchfulness, laying open his whole heart and life, and the pending cause of his kingdom.

Will look up Literally, will watch, wait. Having set every thing in order before God, he now waits watchfully. See Genesis 15:9-12; Ephesians 6:18

Verse 4

4. For Because. He now states the ground or cause of his trusting in prayer, which he gives in Psalms 5:4-6, namely, the fact that God cannot approve or allow wickedness, and that he is “my God and my King,” (Psalms 5:2.)

Neither shall evil dwell with thee Shall not inhabit or abide with thee. Evil men shall not live with God in the same house, (Psalms 15:1,) nor in any relations of favour or friendliness. In Psalms 5:4-6 seven designations are given to the wicked, all abhorrent to God. In the wicked God does not delight. There is no agreeableness in them. The evil man shall not dwell with him.

Verse 5

5. The foolish A term for proud, vain boasters, godless. These shall not stand in his sight, or before his eyes, as the Hebrew has it. They shall not be honoured to come into his presence.

Iniquity A general term for emptiness, vanity, and hence sorrow, sinfulness, evil of any sort. Such workers God hateth.

Verse 6

6. Leasing Lying, falsehood. Here applying to speech.

Bloody and deceitful Deceit here specially applies to treachery, bad faith, treason, as 2 Kings 9:23; Psalms 55:11; Jeremiah 9:6. Whether the lying and deceit consist in words or acts, such as practice them God will destroy.

Verse 7

7. But as for me A sudden transition from the vile and abhorrent character of his enemies to the beautiful unfoldings of a true piety.

Thy house The habit of devout and sincere worship is here placed foremost, as the representative virtue of his life, comprehending all others. True piety is the source of human righteousness.

In the multitude of thy mercy Not in the spirit of vainglory does he contrast himself with his enemies, as did the Pharisee mentioned Luke 18:11; but humbly, and in conscious rectitude, he ascribes all his goodness to God’s mercy.

Temple Same as house, preceding. Not necessarily the temple of Solomon, if it were already standing, but tabernacle, or consecrated place of worship. See 1 Samuel 1:9; 2 Samuel 22:7; Psalms 18:6; and notes on Psalms 19:9; Psalms 84:10; Psalms 116:19

Verse 8

8. In thy righteousness It was not in human counsels and cognitions of right, but in Jehovah’s, that he was safe and might securely walk.

Mine enemies Strictly, my observers, those who watch for me waylayers. No human wisdom could cope with these trained and wily politicians, these ambushed “sharp shooters;” and hence it was not in cunning, but righteousness, the righteousness of God that he trusted. See Proverbs 10:9; 1 Peter 3:13-16.

Thy way straight The clearly revealed will of God is always a blessing, as it enables men to walk safely if they be obedient.

Verse 9

9. For there is no faithfulness The particle “for” gives the reason for the prayer in Psalms 5:8, namely, the character of his enemies. They have, first, no faithfulness, no fixedness or stability, in their mouth. There is no reliance upon their words, because they seek not truth, and have no settled principles.

In their mouth Literally, in his mouth; that is, in the month of any one of them.

Their inward part The word קרב , ( kereb,) inward part, when used psychologically, as here, is one of the strongest words in Hebrew to denote inwardness, internality. The word לב , ( lebh,) heart, is more local, but not more intensely inward in signification. In the text “inward part” denotes the seat of thought, volition, and desire, which is “wickedness:” Hebrew, wickednesses, the plural used for intensity; hence our Version, “very wickedness.” Here, then, the fountain head, the inmost origin of moral action, is called thorough wickedness, or corruption.

Throat is an open sepulchre As if ready to receive its victim. Also within is the seat of corruption from which the fumes of death proceed. Matthew 23:27. One more touch of the pencil finishes the picture.

They flatter with their tongue This is the lure to draw unwary souls through the open doorway of the sepulchre into the pit of death.

Verse 10

10. Destroy thou them Literally, charge them with guilt; that is, visit upon them the consequences of their sin. And so the next line: “Let them fall by [or through] their own counsels.”

Against thee The enemies of David were the enemies of God, and it was against his purposes that the rebellion was aimed.

Verse 11

11. But let all… rejoice In this and the following verse the opposite character and treatment of the righteous are set forth, so that both the protection of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked which latter, under the moral government of God, is equally necessary for the vindication of the divine character and the salvation of those who trust in him shall be cause of eternal joy to all holy beings.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 5". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-5.html. 1874-1909.
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