Psalm Chapter 5: Prayer of David in Time of Distress

Jan 26th, 2012 | By | Category: Psalms, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Psa. 5:0 To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David.

Psalms 3, 4, and 5 were more or less intended to be grouped together. Relatively sequential, they pertained to an experience in David’s life when the kingship was under siege and he was fleeing from his enemies, particularly Absalom. It is difficult to give a constructive analysis unless the three Psalms are read in their entirety and we try to picture the setting. Psalm 3 was inferentially an evening prayer (Psa. 3:5), Psalm 4 was also an evening prayer (Psa. 4:4), and Psalm 5 was another evening prayer, where David trusted that the answer would come in the morning (Psa. 5:3). In both Old and New Testament times, prayers are an expression of one’s devotion and feelings, or emotions, as the petitioner looks to God as his Guide and Director in all of life’s affairs. The nature and subject matter of the Second Psalm are so distinctly different that there does not seem to be a relationship to the following three mood Psalms, in which David petitioned the Heavenly Father and related his experiences in making his petitions known.

The accompanying music, or sound, for this Fifth Psalm is called “Nehiloth,” which is a wind instrument, as opposed to the stringed instruments (“Neginoth”) of the Fourth Psalm. A wind instrument is a flute or some other kind of pipe instrument.

Psa. 5:1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.

David’s opening petition was that God would hearken to his evening prayer and meditation.

Psa. 5:2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.

Psa. 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

David acknowledged that God was his King. Verses 2 and 3 confirm a continuing coherent prayer theme in Psalms 3, 4, and 5. David directed his prayer to God and looked upward to Him. He looked to his King for leadership, guidance, instruction, and recognition that his voice was heard.

Comment: Meditation and prayer go together. When we thus consider our prayers, God will take to His heart that which comes from our heart.

Reply: Meditation can be a silent prayer, but when we add our audible voice, the prayer becomes a little more meaningful. Voicing our words, as well as being on our knees, is helpful for enhancing our prayers and bringing us more in harmony as a petitioner hoping to get the benefit of being heard.

David was confident that God would hear his opening prayer of the morning. “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; … I [will] direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”

Psa. 5:4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.

Psa. 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Psa. 5:6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

In verses 4-6, David was speaking of the others, who were putting their trust not in God but in receiving material benefits. Their works were not in harmony with righteousness. “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing [falsehood, lies].”

No doubt if we had been there and had known exactly what was happening in Israel at the time of this petition, we would be able to enter more fully into David’s prayer. The wickedness was so disturbing to David that he wished God, who hates such evil, would destroy the workers of iniquity.

Indignities were committed against not only David but also God. Since David was the steward God had appointed as leader, any disrespect shown or any infraction committed against the office of king was a reflection on God. Now David’s enemies were happy, but he knew that in the end, it would not be favorable for them. “The LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.” Those who were rallying support for Absalom showed by their life’s deeds and actions that they were not in harmony with God. David contrasted them with himself and his followers.

Incidentally, those who supported David were strange individuals, but under his tutelage, they became changed individuals as time went on. Not only did they become mighty men of valor, but they began to have principles and like and admire David for his integrity. They tried to imitate him and looked to him for guidance and leadership. Similarly, we look to Jesus and admire his devotion to God, and we take instruction from what he did and preached. The more we meditate on Jesus’ leadership, the more we try to emulate and be like him in order to please the Heavenly Father.

Psa. 5:7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

The pronouns are very meaningful throughout these Psalms, for they give distinctness of understanding. Here David was relying on God. “I will come into thy house in … thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.” This spirit pervaded David’s petitions— he was dependent on the Lord’s strength, mercy, forgiveness, and leadership, whereas his enemies did not rely on God but did their own thing in their own way.

David said, “In thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple,” but when Psalms 3, 4, and 5 were written near the end of his life, the Temple had not yet been built. However, David had been saving up money and materials—his life’s savings, as it were—for the building of the Temple. He had even prepared artifacts to garnish the integral part of the Temple. God gave David all of the plans and measurements, but in the final analysis, it was David’s son Solomon who utilized the materials and followed the pattern to make the Temple a reality. Although the Temple was not constructed in David’s day, it was being built in his mind, for he knew it would become a literal structure. Stated another way, the vision was a reality to David.

David was given to prayer, and the Psalms reveal his motivations and joy. He was unusual in his devotion to God, praying seven times each day. “Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments” (Psa. 119:164). His likely times of prayer were 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m., and bedtime. To pray seven times a day indicates he had habitual fixed hours. Jesus’ nighttime prayers lasted for hours. Sometimes he departed alone at dusk and returned early in the morning, having spent the whole night communing in prayer with his Father. Thus Jesus’ prayers were of greater duration than David’s. Prayer is one of the essential ingredients of a successful Christian.

In later life, David knew that the Temple would be built on the threshing floor of Ornan, so he prayed in that direction. As a result of an experience where a huge angel appeared in heaven directly over Jerusalem, David purchased the threshing floor from Ornan (1 Chron. 21:15-28). “In thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.” Some Christians try to do the same thing in principle by facing north, the direction of the Pleiades, when they pray in the evening.

Psa. 5:8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.

The directness in David’s Psalms suggests that these were the prayers of an archer who had purpose in his devotion. Similarly, the Apostle Paul mentioned that he had one goal, which he likened to a race toward the finish line. He said, “This one thing I do” (Phil. 3:13). Through David’s training with the slingshot and the bow and arrow, there was a directness in the mood frame in which he offered his prayers. And Jesus often looked upward when he prayed.

Q: Was David asking God to make the way plain for him?

A: Yes, he was praying for the Lord’s guidance. He continued in the same spirit that was expressed in verse 2: “Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God.” In other words, “Make the way plain and straight before my face so that I will know what to do this day.” Frequently in our morning prayer, we likewise look for guidance for the day in doing the Father’s will.

For many years, we avoided having a class study on the Book of Psalms because to explain many of them with particularity is very difficult. However, we have studied the Psalms personally to glean golden nuggets and to know the habits of David. Some of the Psalms are very structured and extremely mathematical, but generally speaking, when David was in the type of mood frame of Psalms 3, 4, and 5, it is difficult to extract substantive information and give definition except to see and observe the nature of his prayers.

Psa. 5:9 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.

David used strong denunciatory language in regard to what he considered not only his enemies but also their waywardness toward God. They dishonored Jehovah as well as the office over which David was given charge.

There seems to have been an anomaly or a contradiction in David’s enemies in that their mouth lacked steadfastness, their inward part was utterly wicked, and their throat was an open sepulcher, yet they flattered him with their tongue. In other words, they flattered David to his face but were undependable because of their words and actions behind his back.

Absalom flattered those who proved to be David’s enemies, taking advantage of an audience on several occasions. He used the people to promote himself on the one hand and to denigrate his father on the other hand. In bringing forth what he considered faults and shortcomings of David, Absalom did not fully realize his father’s circumstance or the permission of evil, which, as a test of faith in God, took various forms such as health and honor.

David was having a troublesome experience, yet he maintained his confidence that he was still in God’s favor. David’s triumph and steadfastness were manifest in spite of the turmoil. He felt the discomfiture but received the experiences well and honored God for having favored him.

Psa. 5:10 Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.

David prayed with regard to his enemies, saying in effect, “Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels.” They rebelled against God by siding with Absalom; they favored him as their leader because he winked the eye at their transgressions.

Of course David had a higher standard, as those with him came to recognize and honor. In their association with David in his flight, these castoffs were brought to a higher level.

Comment: With Saul, David would not lift a hand against God’s anointed, but David’s own son was willing to do that.

Reply: David was reluctant to wish ill toward Absalom until Joab, his general, brought him to his senses. Then David realized what Absalom was doing.

Verses 9 and 10 are generalizations. Although we cannot be certain of the specifics, we see the emotions that David was experiencing.

Psa. 5:11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

David was saying to God, “Let all those who put their trust in you rejoice because you support, protect, and defend them.” He had faith that whatever the experience, there was a purpose for it—whether for good or for correction. Here David considered the trials to be a test of his own personal faithfulness, and he was telling the Lord of his love for Him in spite of the treacherous experiences.

Psa. 5:12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

Notice the future tense: “For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous.” In other words, what seemed to be against one who was putting his trust in the Lord would ultimately work out for his good. The temporary experience was not pleasant, but afterward it would yield the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11). “With favour wilt [future tense] thou compass him as with a shield.”




(2004-2006 Study)

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