May 20 2007
Note: I’m using the World English Bible for the text of psalm 5. The verse numbering of this bible differ from some other.
We saw that Psalm 4 was characterized as an evening prayer. Psalm 5 is generally held to be a morning prayer (vs 3). Perhaps we are to see a connection between the two psalms (Note the similar openings: Psalm 4:1=Psalm 5:1-3. Also, note that both close with the theme of God providing security: 4:9=5:11-12).
- 5:1 Give ear to my words, Yahweh.
- Consider my meditation.
- 5:2 Listen to the voice of my cry, my King and my God;
- for to you do I pray.
- 5:3 Yahweh, in the morning you shall hear my voice.
- In the morning I will lay my requests before you, and will watch expectantly.
The opening shows that this is a song of lament or, as it is sometimes termed, a song of complaint (see footnote 1, NAB). The Psalmist calls upon God with three imperatives: “give ear“, “consider“, and “listen“. Such imperatives are typical of complaint psalms and serve to highlight the petitioners confidence in God. Such confidence is also seen in his referring to the Lord as “my King and my God.” This confidence and insistent prayer is typical of biblical prayers (see Luke 11:5-13; and 18:1-8. See also CCC 2610 and 2613).
Vs 1 Give ear to my words, Yahweh. Consider my meditation. Because he takes refuge in the Lord who defends and blesses the righteous (vss 11-12), the psalmist is able to call upon God in confidence. He asks God to consider what he has to say. The word consider in the Hebrew text is in the Qal tense and would better be translated as “understand”. What God is to understand is his meditation. The just man, says psalm 1, delights in the law of the Lord, and meditates on the law of the Lord day and night. (see psalm 1:2), but sinners will not stand at the judgment (See psalm 1:6 compare with Psalm 5:5, 10 WEB ).
Vs 2 My king and my God. Personalizes the prayer. In ancient Israel a king wasn’t just a ruler, he was also a judge and defender of those who were in the right regarding legal and religious laws (see 1 Kings 3:18-27; 2 Sam 14:4-24). It appears that the psalmist is engaged in some form of legal contention with his adversaries and expects God to judge the case (see notes on vs 3). My God is the more personal part of the address. It is followed by the words for to you do I pray. Why this emphasis? Are we to understand that his enemies are in the habit of praying to other Gods?.
Vs 3 Yahweh in the morning you shall hear my voice. Both the liturgy and legal proceedings were heard in the morning. Some scholars suggest that the psalmist facing is am unjust legal accustation but is confident that he will receive a favorable judgment and as a result will offer a morning sacrifice in the temple (see 5: 7 WEB).
Cont. Vs 3 In the morning I will lay my request before you, and will watch expectantly. The Psalmist will watch (literally, “look up”) to God for an answer (see Psalm 123). Again the psalmist expresses confidence that God will hear and answer him, because he knows that the Lord watches over the way of the just (see psalm 1:6. Also Psalm 121). This Looking up to God with confidence is based also on the Psalmist’s knowledge of the state of the wicked in God’s sight. (note the word play)
- 5:4 For you are not a God who has pleasure in wickedness.
- Evil can’t live with you.
- cb(5,5); 5:5 The arrogant shall not stand in your sight.
- You hate all workers of iniquity.
- cb(5,6); 5:6 You will destroy those who speak lies.
- Yahweh abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
Vs 4 For- acts as a conjunctive linking up what is said here about God with the confidence expressed by the Psalmist in verse 3. Wickedness- the Hebrew word is resha (reh-shah) which is often used in the Bible to describe those who pervert ethics or civil law. Evil cannot live (dwell, sojourn) with you- This could mean that no evil dwells in God. However, since the word is also used for dwelling in God’s tent (Psalm 15:2; 61:5) the meaning could be that evil men will sooner or later be exposed and cast out from worshiping at the temple (contrast with verse 7).
Vs 5 The arrogant shall not stand in your sight- Forms a nice contrast with the Psalmist’s attitude in verse 3. The Psalmist humbly Lays his requests before the Lord and watches (looks up) expectantly for a response; on the other hand, the arrogant (those who make a spectacle of themselves in relation to God and men) cannot b stand in God’s sight.
You hate all workers on iniquity- See3 Job 31:2-3–”For what is the portion from God above, and the heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not calamity to the unrighteous, and disaster to the workers of iniquity?”
Vs 6 You will destroy those who speak lies- Again, this is probably referring to false accusers or witnesses in a legal (civil or religious) case. The prophets of the OT often condemned perjury and giving false witness, along with other perversions of the legal system (see Amos 5:7, 10; Isa 1:23; 5:18-24).
2476 False witness and perjury. When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity. In court it becomes false witness. 276 When it is under oath, it is perjury. Acts such as these contribute to condemnation of the innocent, exoneration of the guilty, or the increased punishment of the accused. 277 They gravely compromise the exercise of justice and the fairness of judicial decisions. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
5:7 But as for me, in the abundance of your loving kindness I will come into your house. I will bow toward your holy temple in reverence of you.
But as for me- establishes a strong contrast with the preceding verses which described both the sinners state and God’s attitude towards sinners. Because of the Lord’s loving kindness the Psalmist will come into the your (God’s) house, unlike the wicked whom the God of loving kindness is said to take no pleasure in, for evil will not live (dwell) with God. Only those who, like the psalmist, bow toward the holy temple (vs 7) can stand in God’s sight (vs 5)
- 5:8 Lead me, Yahweh, in your righteousness because of my enemies.
- Make your way straight before my face.
- cb(5,9); 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.
- cb(5,10); 5:10 Hold them guilty, God.
- Let them fall by their own counsels;
- Thrust them out in the multitude of their transgressions,
- for they have rebelled against you.
Vs 8 lead me in your righteousness- Having established God’s superiority and power over the unrighteous, the psalmist calls upon God to lead him in the face (before, in the presence of) his enemies for reasons given in verse 9.
Vs 9 heart is destruction…throat…tongue- these references call to mind the bloodthirsty and deceitful whom the Lord abhors (see vs 6)
Vs 10 let them fall by their own counsels; thrust them out..- That those who do evil trap themselves in their wickedness is a very common motif in the wisdom literature. Also, again we think of the words the arrogant shall not stand in your sight (vs 5).
- 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.
- cb(5,12); 5:12 For you will bless the righteous.
- Yahweh, you will surround him with favor as with a shield.
- Vs 11 But let all those who take refuge in you- provides a contrast with the preceding verses, especially the words Let them fall by their own counsels. Those who rejoice in God and are defended by him stand in marked contrast to those who rebel and are thrust out.
- Vs 12 the righteous… you will surround- a contrast is drawn between the righteous whom God surrounds, and the rebels who are (as it were) surrounded by the multitude of their transgressions and whom, as a result, are thrust out from God’s presence since they cannot enjoy his protection (see vs 10).
- File under Bible.