New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Psa 5:1 For the Chief Musician, with the flutes. A Psalm by David.
Give ear to my words, Yahweh. Consider my meditation-
Who we are as persons is effectively our prayer and plea to God. This conception of prayer explains why often weeping, crying, waiting, meditating etc. are spoken of as "prayer" , although there was no specific verbalizing of requests (Ps. 5:1,2; 6:8; 18:1,2,3,6; 40:1; 42:8; 64:1 Heb.; 65:1,2; 66:17-20; Zech. 8:22). The association between prayer and weeping is especially common: 1 Sam. 1:10; Ps. 39:12; 55:1,2; Jn. 11:41,42; Heb. 5:7, especially in the Lord's life and the Messianic Psalms. "The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer" (Ps. 6:8,9) crystallizes the point.

Psa 5:2 Listen to the voice of my cry, my King and my God; for to You do I pray-
The surrounding culture assumed that the louder one cried, the more likely God was to hear. We think of the prophets of Baal on Carmel. But David broke that paradigm; he knew that his internal "meditation" (:1) was seen by God as his "cry". David the king repeatedly calls God his "king". His exaltation didn't lead him to pride, as he was always under the deep impression that he was not the ultimate king (Ps. 5:2; 10:16; 29:10; 44:4; 47:6).

Psa 5:3 Yahweh, in the morning You shall hear my voice; in the morning I will lay my requests before You-
Ps. 5 has similarities with Psalms 3 and 4, both of which I have shown were relevant to Absalom's rebellion. Here the connection is to how David laid down in peace and slept as he fled from Absalom, so confident of his good conscience with God and that God would ultimately save him (see on Ps. 3:5; 4:4). David's first waking moments were naturally of prayer to God. And this is our pattern. He often mentions his habit of regular prayer morning and evening (Ps. 5:3; 55:17; 59:16; 88:3; 119:147). This  should not have to be enforced upon us, but rather the natural outcome of a life lived in constant connection with God. David perceived that the Mosaic ritual of morning and evening sacrifice taught the sacrifice of prayer should be made in daily life, even though at the time of many of the Psalms, David was exiled from the sanctuary. This exile from organized religion led him to make this connection, as it can for us too.

And will watch expectantly- We must be careful what we pray for. Because we will likely receive it in some form. If indeed the context of this Psalm is that of Absalom's rebellion, then we have to note that this same word for 'watching expectantly' is used repeatedly of the expectant watching for news of the battle with Absalom (2 Sam. 18:24-27); and the news was not what David wanted to hear. Absalom had been slain. But he had asked God to save him from Absalom's rebellion, and promised to "watch expectantly" for the answer.

Psa 5:4 For You are not a God who has pleasure in wickedness, evil can’t live with You-
Although this Psalm has relevance to Absalom's rebellion, it is a reworking of David's feelings when persecuted by Saul and likewise on the run from him. For circumstances repeat in our lives, and it would be natural for David to reconsider Psalms written at the time of one exile and apply them to another, just as these Psalms were also used for others in their times of exile. "Wickedness" is the word used about Saul's persecution in 1 Sam. 24:13.

Psa 5:5 The arrogant shall not stand in Your sight; you hate all workers of iniquity-
To stand in God's sight means at times to be His representative. David is saying that the wicked like Saul or Absalom cannot continue as kings, ultimately. The essential problem with them David perceived, was their pride.


Psa 5:6 You will destroy those who speak lies-
"Lies" is the word used in Ps. 4:2 about the men in Absalom's conspiracy. David saw the telling of lies as the epitome of sin (Ps. 58:3 s.w.).

Yahweh abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man- But this is not to say there can be no salvation for such a person; for Jacob and his sons were "deceitful" (s.w. Gen. 27:35; 34:13) but were patiently led to better ways. If as suggested this Psalm originated at the time of Absalom's rebellion, then we can note that Shimei at that time had called David a "bloodthirsty man" (2 Sam. 16:7,8 s.w.). And the same words are used by God about David (1 Chron. 28:3). So we can wonder whether David was too quick here to assume that the 'man of blood' was hated by God and was of course not him. If he has Absalom in view, then his imprecation against Absalom was answered, and he then regretted it. Just as Jeremiah in Lamentations laments the very things which he had prophesied against his own people. We really have to be careful what we pray for, for in essence we shall usually receive it.

Psa 5:7 But as for me, in the abundance of Your grace I will come into Your house. I will bow toward Your holy temple in reverence of You-
David had fled Jerusalem and the "holy hill" of the temple mount (Ps. 3:4), which was now under Absalom's control. But he believes Yahweh is still there, present as it were in the temple, and answering his prayer; he prayed toward the sanctuary which he believed he would return to, by grace. He perhaps alludes to the promises that if Israel sinned and were exiled, they could always pray to God and hope for regathering to His holy hill (Dt. 30:1-4; Neh. 1:9). Solomon develops these thoughts further, in teaching that Israel in their dispersion were to pray to God toward Jerusalem, His "holy hill" of Zion (1 Kings 8:48,49). We see therefore how Solomon would have reflected upon his father David's experience; David had prayed towards God's "holy hill" when in exile from it, and had been heard. Solomon may well have been in David's retinue at the time, and would have experienced the wonder of return to Zion because of his father's prayer towards God in Zion. We note the usage of "holy temple", which didn't exist in David's time. This is a typical example of how the Psalms were rewritten under Divine inspiration. David's faith and hope that he would return to the sanctuary was reapplied to the exiles, who were likewise to believe that they would be regathered to the temple.

Psa 5:8 Lead me, Yahweh, in Your righteousness because of my enemies. Make Your way straight before my face-
David was fleeing from Absalom, not clear where exactly he was going. And he asks to be led, in a straight way; and to realize which way he should take. And whatever the path, he wishes it to be that of righteousness. The "straight" path recalls the language used in Ezekiel about the way of the cherubim (Ez. 1:7), who were to regather Judah to their land and the temple (:7)- if they wished to follow them. David's feelings and faith as he was in exile as a consequence for his sins were to be those of the exiles, in a similar position.

Psa 5:9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth. Their heart is destruction. Their throat is an open tomb. They flatter with their tongue-
We may well enquire how David thought he knew the state of heart [AV "inward part"] of his enemies (Ps. 5:9; 36:1; 49:11; 62:4; 64:6). Perhaps it was a result of his reflection upon how he had only had a right spirit or heart given by God "within" him as a result of his repentance (Ps. 51:10 s.w.). His enemies were impenitent, and so perhaps on that basis he knew what was in their hearts. But perhaps David was too hasty to judge. For these words are quoted in Rom. 3:13 about all humanity, including the believers who are saved by grace alone. It's as if the Spirit through Paul is somewhat correcting David's idea that only some 'very wicked' people are like this.

Psa 5:10 Hold them guilty, God. Let them fall by their own advice; thrust them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You-
The rebellion of Absalom was against David, but he rightly perceives it as being essentially against God. Perhaps Ahithophel is particularly in view; he fell by his own advice (2 Sam. 17:23). Whilst his suicide was completely his decision, it was also an answer to David's prayer at this point.

Psa 5:11 But let all those who take refuge in You rejoice, let them always shout for joy, because You defend them. Let them also who love Your name be joyful in You-
David has in mind the loyal ones who remained faithful to him at the time of Absalom's rebellion. Eternal or "always" shouting for joy is the phrase only used elsewhere about the returned exiles (Is. 61:7). Again we see how David's joy upon returning to Zion from exile was intended to be that of the restored exiles- if they followed David's path of penitence.

Psa 5:12 For You will bless the righteous. Yahweh, You will surround him with favour as with a shield
As in Ps. 3:3, clearly written at the time of Absalom's rebellion (Ps. 3:1). David is appealing to the promises to Abraham, that God would be a shield to Abraham and his true seed (Gen. 15:1). Such appeal to the promises which form the basis for the new covenant is common in the Psalms, and can just as legitimately be made by us.