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Psalm 5

Trust in God for Deliverance from Enemies

To the leader: for the flutes. A Psalm of David.


Give ear to my words, O L ord;

give heed to my sighing.


Listen to the sound of my cry,

my King and my God,

for to you I pray.


O L ord, in the morning you hear my voice;

in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.



For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;

evil will not sojourn with you.


The boastful will not stand before your eyes;

you hate all evildoers.


You destroy those who speak lies;

the L ord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.



But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,

will enter your house,

I will bow down toward your holy temple

in awe of you.


Lead me, O L ord, in your righteousness

because of my enemies;

make your way straight before me.



For there is no truth in their mouths;

their hearts are destruction;

their throats are open graves;

they flatter with their tongues.


Make them bear their guilt, O God;

let them fall by their own counsels;

because of their many transgressions cast them out,

for they have rebelled against you.



But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;

let them ever sing for joy.

Spread your protection over them,

so that those who love your name may exult in you.


For you bless the righteous, O L ord;

you cover them with favor as with a shield.

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. 6666     “Il a aussi represente et exprime ses gemissemens qui estoyent en grand nombre et de beaucoup de sortes.” — Fr. 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: 6767     “Ce qu’il vent requerir a Dieu.” —Fr. 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 הגהhagah, from which the noun הגיג, 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. 6868     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.” 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. 6969     “Il semble que puis apres, pour mieux specifier, it en met deux sortes appelant les unes Complaintes obscures, et les autres Cri.” — Fr. 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.) 7070     “Quand la douleur l’empesche de parler distinctement et faire entendre sa voix.” — Fr. 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.

Psalm 5:3

3. O that thou wouldst hear my voice in the morning; O Jehovah, in the morning will I direct unto thee, and I will keep watch.


The first sentence may also be read in the future tense of the indicative mood, Thou shalt hear my prayer. But, in my opinion, the verb is rather in the optative mood, as I have translated it. Having besought God to grant his requests, he now entreats him to make haste. Some think he alludes to the morning prayers which were wont to be joined with the daily sacrifices in the temple, according to the appointment of the law. Although I do not disapprove of this opinion, yet I have no doubt but that, constrained by the weariness of a somewhat lengthened delay, he wishes his deliverance to be hastened; as if he had said, “As soon as I awaken this will be the first subject of my thoughts. Therefore, O Lord, delay no longer the help of which I stand in need, but grant immediately my desires.” The expression, To direct unto God, I take to signify the same thing as directly to approach to God. Many, as if the language were elliptical, supply the words, my prayer. But in my judgment, David rather intends to declare that he was not turned hither and thither, nor drawn different ways by the temptations to which he was exposed, but that to betake himself to God was the settled order of his life. There is, in the words, an implied contrast between the rambling and uncertain movements of those who look around them for worldly helps, or depend on their own counsels and the direct leading of faith, by which all the godly are withdrawn from the vain allurements of the world, and have recourse to God alone. The Hebrew word ערך, arac, signifies to set in order or dispose, and sometimes to dress or make fit. This sense is very suitable to the passage, in which David plainly declares it to be his determination not to be drawn away in any degree from his orderly course into the indirect and circuitous paths of error and sin, but to come directly to God. By the word, watch, he conveys the idea of hope and patience as well as of anxiety. As צפה, tsapah, in Hebrew means, to wait for, as well as to look for, David, I have no doubt, intended to say, that after he had disburdened his cares into the bosom of God, he would, with an anxious mind, look out, as it were, like a sentinel, until it should appear, that in very deed God had heard him. No doubt, in the exercise of longing, there is always implied some degree of uneasiness; but he who is looking out for the grace of God with anxious desire, will patiently wait for it. This passages therefore, teaches us the uselessness of those prayers to which there is not added that hope which may be said to elevate the minds of the petitioners into a watch-tower.

Here David makes the malice and wickedness of his enemies an argument to enforce his prayer for the divine favor towards him. The language is indeed abrupt, as the saints in prayer will often stammer; but this stammering is more acceptable to God than all the figures of rhetoric, be they ever so fine and glittering. Besides, the great object which David has in view, is to show, that since the cruelty and treachery of his enemies had reached their utmost height, it was impossible but that God would soon arrest them in their course. His reasoning is grounded upon the nature of God. Since righteousness and upright dealing are pleasing to him, David, from this, concludes that he will take vengeance on all the unjust and wicked. And how is it possible for them to escape from his hand unpunished, seeing he is the judge of the world? The passage is worthy of our most special attention. For we know how greatly we are discouraged by the unbounded insolence of the wicked. If God does not immediately restrain it, we are either stupified and dismayed, or cast down into despair. But David, from this, rather finds matter of encouragement and confi-dence. The greater the lawlessness with which his enemies proceeded against him, the more earnestly did he supplicate preservation from God, whose office it is to destroy all the wicked, because he hates all wickedness. Let all the godly, therefore, learn, as often as they have to contend against violence, deceit, and injustice, to raise their thoughts to God in order to encourage themselves in the certain hope of deliverance, according as Paul also exhorts them in 2 Thessalonians 1:5, “Which is,” says he, “a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest with us.” And assuredly he would not be the judge of the world if there were not laid up in store with him a recompense for all the ungodly. One use, then, which may be made of this doctrine is this, — when we see the wicked indulging themselves in their lusts, and when, in consequence, doubts steal into our minds as to whether God takes any care of us, we should learn to satisfy ourselves with the consideration that God, who hates and abhors all iniquity, will not permit them to pass unpunished, and although he bear with them for a time, he will at length ascend into the judgment-seat, and show himself an avenger, as he is the protector and defender of his people. 7373     “Comme il est protecteur et defenseur des siens.” — Fr. Again, we may infer from this passage the common doctrine, that God, although he works by Satan and by the ungodly, and makes use of their malice for executing his judgments, is not, on this account, the author of sin, nor is pleased with it because the end which he purposes is always righteous; and he justly condemns and punishes those who, by his mysterious providence, are driven whithersoever he pleases.

In the 4th verse some take רע, ra, in the masculine gender, for a wicked man; but I understand it rather of wickedness itself David declares simply, that there is no agreement between God and unrighteousness. He immediately after proceeds to speak of the men themselves, saying, the foolish shall not stand in thy sight; and it is a very just inference from this, that iniquity its hateful to God, and that, therefore, he will execute just punishment upon all the wicked. He calls those fools, according to a frequent use of the term in Scripture, who, impelled by blind passion, rush headlong into sin. Nothing is more foolish, than for the ungodly to cast away the fear of God, and suffer the desire of doing mischief to be their ruling principle; yea, there is no madness worse than the contempt of God, under the influence of which men pervert all right. David sets this truth before himself for his own comfort; but we also may draw from it doctrine very useful in training us to the fear of God; for the Holy Spirit, by declaring God to be the avenger of wickedness, puts a bridle upon us, to restrain us from committing sin, in the vain hope of escaping with impunity.

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