Psalm 5:1-2

1. Give ear unto my words, O Jehovah; attend to my speech. 2. Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King and my God:for unto thee will I pray.


I presume not positively to determine whether David, in this psalm, bewails the wrongs which he suffered from his enemies at some particular time, or whether he complains generally of the various persecutions with which, for a long time, he was harassed under Saul. Some of the Jewish commentators apply the psalm even to Absalom; because, by the bloody and deceitful man, they think Doeg and Ahithophel are pointed out. To me, however, it appears more probable, that when David, after the death of Saul, had got peaceable possession of the kingdoms he committed to writing the prayers which he had meditated in his afflictions and dangers. But to come to the words:-- First, he expresses one thing in three different ways; and this repetition denotes the strength of his affection, and his long perseverance in prayer. For he was not so fond of many words as to employ different forms of expression, which had no meaning; but being deeply engaged in prayer, he represented, by these various expressions, the variety of his complaints.1 It therefore signifies, that he prayed neither coldly nor only in few words; but that, according as the vehemence of his grief urged him, he was earnest in bewailing his calamities before God; and that since it did not immediately appear what would be their issue, he persevered in repeating the same complaints. Again, he does not expressly state what he desires to ask from God:2 but there is a greater force in this kind of suppression, than if he had spoken distinctly. By not uttering the desires of his heart, he shows more emphatically that his inward feelings, which he brought with him before God, were such that language was insufficient to express them. Again, the word cry, which signifies a loud and sonorous utterance of the voice, serves to mark the earnestness of his desire. David did not cry out as it were into the ears of one who was deaf; but the vehemence of his grief and his inward anguish, burst forth into this cry. The verb hgh hagah, from which the noun gygh, hagig, speech, which the prophet here uses, is derived, means both to speak distinctly, and to whisper or to mutter. But the second sense seems better suited to this passage.3 After David has said in general, that God hears his words, he seems, immediately after, for the purpose of being more specific, to divide them into two kinds, calling the one obscure or indistinct moanings, and the other loud crying.4 By the first he means a confused muttering, such as is described in the Song of Hezekiah, when sorrow hindered him from speaking distinctly, and making his voice to be heard. "Like a crane, or a swallow, so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove," (Isaiah 38:14.)5 If, then, at any time we are either backward to pray, or our devout affections begin to lose their fervor, we must here seek for arguments to quicken and urge us forward. And as by calling God his King and his God, he intended to stir up himself to entertain more lively and favorable hopes with respect to the issue of his afflictions, let us learn to apply these titles to a similar use, namely, for the purpose of making ourselves more familiar with God. At the close, he testifies that he does not sullenly gnaw the bit, as unbelievers are accustomed to do; but directs his groaning to God:for they who, disregarding God, either fret inwardly or utter their complaints to men, are not worthy of being regarded by him. Some translate the last clause thus, When I pray to thee; but to me it seems rather to be the reason which David assigns for what he had said immediately before, and that his purpose is, to encourage himself to trust in God, by assuming this as a general principle that whoever call upon God in their calamities never meet with a repulse from him.

1 "Il a aussi represente et exprime ses gemissemens qui estoyent en grand nombre et de beaucoup de sortes." -- Fr.

2 "Ce qu'il vent requerir a Dieu." --Fr.

3 Bishop Horne beautifully renders the word, "dove-like mournings," and Bishop Horsley, "sighing." "The word," says Hammond, "regularly signifies sighing or cry, not a loud, sonorous voice, but such as complaints are made in."

4 "Il semble que puis apres, pour mieux specifier, it en met deux sortes appelant les unes Complaintes obscures, et les autres Cri." -- Fr.

5 "Quand la douleur l'empesche de parler distinctement et faire entendre sa voix." -- Fr.