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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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PSALM 5

PRAYER FOR PROTECTION FROM THE WICKED

(FOR THE CHIEF MUSICIAN; WITH THE NEHILOTH. A PSALM OF DAVID)

This psalm is also called a "Morning Prayer" because of the statement in Ps. 5:3. Any connection the psalm has with the life of David is unknown, because the prayer is appropriate for any individual at any time, especially when one is threatened by enemies.


 
Verses 1-3
Give ear to my words, O Jehovah, Consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God; For unto thee do I pray. O Jehovah, in the morning shalt thou hear my voice; In the morning will I order [my prayer] unto thee, and will keep watch.
This word has no certain meaning at all for us. It evidently referred to something connected with the music, but just what is meant is unknown. Delitzsch believed that it signified inheritances, the same being a reference to some traditional tune familiar to the people of that generation.F1 Others think it refers to some kind of a wind instrument, such as a flute.F2

Ps. 5:1-3

Give ear to my words, O Jehovah,

Consider my meditation.

Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God.

For unto thee do I pray.

O Jehovah, in the morning shalt thou hear my voice;

In the morning will I order my prayer unto thee, and will keep watch."

A great wealth of information about prayer appears in these brief lines.

(1) There must be "words" in which prayers are offered. It is not sufficient merely to sit silently as if in some inner communion with God, such as was characteristic of the Quakers. Prayers are presented in words and sentences.

(2) Prayer is personal. The prayers of my preacher, or of my friends or parents, cannot suffice. Note the words: `my words,' `my meditation,' `my cry,' `my voice,' `my prayer,' `my King,' and `my God.' Prayer is the breathing of spiritual life; and where there is no prayer that life is either threatened or deceased altogether.

(3) The words at the end of Ps. 5:3, "will keep watch," indicate that true prayer involves the expectancy of God's answer, and of the worshipper's earnestly watching to receive it. As Jesus himself stated it, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive it." (Matthew 21:22).

I will order my prayer before thee…
Some have labored to find in this a reference to the way ancient Jewish priests prepared the fire and placed the wood and the pieces of the sacrifice upon the altar; but to us, it appears that the simple meaning is that prayer is not a sporadic or occasional thing at all.

(4) It is regular, continual, persistent and unceasing. The text here mentions prayer "in the morning." What morning? Every morning of course. It is proper to begin every day with the worship of God and earnest prayers for his help and guidance. Our Lord had a certain place in which to pray; and it is scarcely possible to believe that he did not also have a certain time in which to engage in prayer.

For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness:

Evil shall not sojourn with thee.

The arrogant shall not stand in thy sight;

Thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Thou wilt destroy them that speak lies:

Jehovah abhorrest the bloodthirsty and deceitful man."

There are a number of interesting synonyms for wickedness in these verses: `evil,' `arrogant,' `workers of iniquity,' `liars,' `murderers,' and `deceivers.' "The arrogant" here were identified by Delitzsch as "foolish boasters."F3


 
Verses 4-6
For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: Evil shall not sojourn with thee. The arrogant shall not stand in thy sight: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou wilt destroy them that speak lies: Jehovah abhorreth the blood-thirsty and deceitful man.
This contrasts the true Deity with the pagan gods and goddesses who were represented by their advocates as being pleased with licentiousness and other forms of evil.

The wicked in this passage regardless of their many names have one thing in common. "God hates them." "Alas, what a portion have the wicked. God hates them"!F4 But does not God love all men? Yes indeed. God's love potentially belongs to every man who was ever born, but the practice of wickedness alienates that love and changes it into hatred. Some would make it out that Jesus Christ has changed all of that; but the New Testament indicates no such change.

God will destroy. them that speak lies ... the bloodthirsty…
Lying and murder appear to be specially hated by the Heavenly Father, as indicated by Jesus in John 8:14ff, where Satan himself is designated as the father of these very sins.

Regarding murderers, modern society is reaping the very violence and bloodshed that would have been prevented if human society had heeded God's commandment in Gen. 9:6, in which there stands the Divine Commandment to put murderers to death. That is not permission to do so, or a suggestion to that effect, it is a heavenly order! Let people see in our own nation this very day the result of society's failure to obey God in this particular.

But as for me, in the abundance of thy lovingkindness will I come into thy house:

In thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

Lead me, O Jehovah, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies;

Make thy way straight before my face."


 
Verses 7, 8
But as for me, in the abundance of thy lovingkindness will I come into thy house: In thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple. Lead me, O Jehovah, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; Make thy way straight before my face.
The temple, of course, had not been built in the days of David; and it can be alleged that this casts a reflection upon the ancient tradition that attributes the psalm to David. However, as Maclaren pointed out, The Hebrew word for temple used here is also used of the tabernacle in Shiloh (1 Sam. 1:9; 3:3).F5

The word for "worship" in this passage is actually a reference to one's prostrating himself before God.F6

The comment of Adam Clarke on Ps. 5:7 was that, "David considered it an inexpressible privilege to be permitted to attend public worship."F7 Note that the psalmist attributed the privilege of such worship to the "abundance of the lovingkindness of God." Even in our own times, it is a mark of God's blessing and lovingkindness that men are permitted to live in a location where the attendance of public worship is possible. Furthermore, no man who has the spirit of the author of this Psalm will ever be absent willingly from the public worship of God.

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.

Hold them guilty, O God;

Let them fall by their own counsels;

Thrust them out in the multitude of their transgressions;

For they have rebelled against thee."

Gaebelein called these lines the "first imprecatory prayer recorded in the Psalms."F8 Maclaren wrote, "Let us be thankful that we dare not pray such prayers;"F9 however, it is my personal conviction that such views are not justified. The prayers of the Saints in Heaven itself is represented as a cry for God to avenge their blood upon earth's wicked men (Revelation 6:10); and in that light, I cannot find anything wrong with the so-called imprecatory Psalms. God indeed hates and abhors those who have rebelled against him; and it is evident that a prayer for the destruction of the rebellious enemies of God should not be condemned as "un Christian." There are a great many learned people who just do not know anything about the true Spirit of Christ. A glance at Luke 19:27 reveals the mind of Christ himself against his rebellious enemies.

But let all those that take refuge in thee rejoice,

Let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them:

Let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

For thou wilt bless the righteous;

O Jehovah, thou wilt compass him with favor as with a shield."

There is infinite trust and confidence in such a passage as this. It is the inalienable right of every true child of God to accept this passage and many others like it as his very own inheritance.

Notice that the joyful confidence here is not limited to the one offering the prayer, but it is the blessing of all who "love the name" of the Lord and truly serve him.

Kidner pointed out that the last clause here, "Thou wilt compass him," etc. is a word, "Whose only other occurrence is in 1 Sam. 23:26, where it describes a hostile force closing in on David, only to find itself quietly deflected by God's encircling, providential care of David."F10


Footnotes for Psalms 5
1: F. Delitzsch, Commentary on Old Testament, Vol. V (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), p. 120.
2: Arno C. Gaebelein, Psalms (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1939), p. 32.
3: F. Delitzsch, Ibid., p. 122.
4: Adam Clarke, On Old Testament, Vol. 3 (New York: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1937), p. 230.
5: Alexander Maclaren, Psalms, Vol. 1 (New York: Eaton and Mains, 1892), p. 38.
6: Ibid., p. 44.
7: Adam Clarke, On the Old Testament, Vol. 3 (New York: T. Mason and G. Lane, 1837), p. 230.
8: Alexander Maclaren, Ibid., p. 47.
9: Ibid., p. 47.
10: Derek Kidner, Psalms (London: InterVarsity Press, 1973), p. 60.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalm 5". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=ps&chapter=005>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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