Psalm 5: Joy Amid Liars

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Sun, Feb 08, 2015

Psalm 5:1-12; 7, 11

"But I enter Your house by the abundance of Your faithful love; I bow down toward Your holy temple in reverential awe of You" (Ps 5:7, HCSB). "But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy" (Ps 5:11, NLT).

Theme: Enter God's presence by the abundance of his mercy, love and grace, and tell God your honest feelings.

Cry out to God in your distress. Psalm 5 is a lament and a prayer petitioning the Lord in the midst of distress. Why was the psalmist distressed? The psalmist's inner angst was caused by liars and deceitful speech (Ps 4:2; 5:6, 9; 31:13, 18). However, during his morning prayer (Ps 5:3), the psalmist found joy, refuge and favor in the Lord's protection (Ps 5:11-12).

Lies hurt. The devil is the father of lies (Jn 8:44). The destiny of all liars is the second death (Rev 21:8). James understood how destructive lying words can be (Jas 3:5-6). We have all experienced that when lies are spread about you, it hammers, wounds, disheartens and devastates you. David experienced devastating lies said about him (Ps 4:2; 5:6, 9; 31:13, 18). If he allowed the words of liars to get to him he would become bitter and crushed. He would have retaliated in anger and rage (Ps 4:4). But when he entered God's presence and took refuge in the Lord, he found joy amidst the scathing lies (Ps 5:11).

The following Psalms have so far been considered:

  1. Happiness (Ps 1:1-2): A happy person delights and meditates on the Lord's instructions day and night (Ps 1:2).
  2. Sovereignty (Ps 2:6): God's sovereign rule can never be thwarted, despite the foolish constant opposition from ego-driven rulers and the nations (Ps 2:1-3).
  3. Confidence (Ps 3:6): The psalmist was remarkably confident and fearless, despite having heavy odds stacked against him.
  4. Peace (Ps 4:7-8): Despite being discouraged by liars, angry people and fatalistic people, the psalmist found joy, peace, good sleep and deep rest through prayer.

Lamenting, sighing, groaning. The context of Psalms 3, 4 and 5 could well have been David's lament during the time of Absolom's rebellion. David had to live with the emotion of the son he loved wanting to kill his father and take over his kingdom. How would he deal with such an agony? As with Psalm 3 and 4, Psalm 5 begins with a groaning lament (Ps 5:1) and ends with singing and joy in God's refuge (Ps 5:11-12).

Five strophes (sections or divisions in a poem) in Psalm 5:

  1. Groaning in the Morning (1-3): Morning prayer. Tell God your honest feelings.
  2. Affirming God's Justice (4-6): God is just. Don't fret over the wicked.
  3. Entering God's Presence (7-8): Experiencing God. Led on a straight path in righteousness.
  4. Smeared by Lies (9-10): Gossip and slander hurt. But they never prevail.
  5. Rejoicing in God's favor (11-12): Take refuge in God. Sing and rejoice.

How do we enter God's presence? We often brood in our sins. But when we do, we feel rottenness seeping deeper and deeper into our bones (Ps 32:3). The psalmist understood that he could not enter God's presence by his own will, effort or desire, but only by the abundance of God's faithful and steadfast love (Ps 5:7; Dt 7:6-9; Jer 31:3; Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 3:19; 4:8, 16).

Unfailing love. The Hebrew word translated as "great love" (Ps 5:7, NIV), "steadfast love" (Ps 5:7, KJV), "lovingkindness" (Ps 5:7, NASB), "faithful love" (Ps 5:7, HCSB), "unfailing love" (Ps 5:7, NLT) is "chesed" or "hesed" (חֶסֶד). It is clear that there is not a single English word that can convey the full meaning of this word. It is the love that only God has primarily expressed to us. He showed it best through the cross. When Jesus died and at his moment of greatest agony, God the Father turned His face away. It would seem that God forsook his innocent Son to a cruel, unjust and excruciating death on the cross. It would seem that God no longer loved His Son. But in doing so, God showed us just how much He loves us! May God bless you to enter God's presence by remembering just how great the Father's love for us is (1 Jn 3:1, 16)!

Questions:

  1. How did the psalmist feel (1)? What did he do (2)? When (Ps 5:3; 3:5; 4:8; Mk 1:35)? Can you tell God your honest feelings (Job 7:11)?
  2. What does the psalmist know about God (4a, 5b)? Who will not be able to come before God (4b, 5a)? What is God's attitude toward those who lie and are deceitful (6)? What should our attitude be toward liars and the wicked?
  3. What is the basis by which the psalmist comes to God (7; Dt 7:6-9; Jer 31:3; Jn 6:39, 44)? What does he ask of God (8)? What does it mean to be led on a straight smooth path in righteousness (Prov 3:6; Isa 42:16)?
  4. What are liars and lies like (9; Ps 31:13, 18;  Rom 3:13)? Their origin (Jn 8:44)? What is their destiny and why (10; Rev 21:8)?
  5. How does one experience joy (11-12; Jn 15:11; Gal 5:22)?

References:

  1. Motyer, J Alec. The Psalms. New Bible Commentary. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1994. Psalm 5 - The moral context of prevailing prayer:
    1. Confidence in the Lord (1-3)
    2. The Lord's rejection of the wicked (4-6)
    3. Commitment to the Lord's righteous way (7-8)
    4. The Lord's banishment of rebels (9-10)
    5. Joy in the Lord (11-12)
  2. Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1 - 72: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1973. Psalm 5 - Clouded dawn:
    1. The morning watch (1-3)
    2. The Champion of right (4-6)
    3. The pilgrim spirit (7-8)
    4. The campaign of lies (9-10)
    5. The sure defence (11-12)
  3. Zemek, George. Road Maps for the Psalms: Inductive Preaching Outlines Based on the Hebrew Text. Valencia, CA: The Master's Academy International, 2006. Psalm 5: Help Me and Harm Them!!:
    1. David's prayer for intervention (1-8)
    2. David's prayer of imprecation (9-12)
  4. ESV Study Bible:
    1. Asking for God's attention (1-3).
    2. The God who loves justice (4-6).
    3. Confidence of the pious (7-8).
    4. Prayer against the evil doers (9-10).
    5. Confidence for all the godly (11-12).
  5. A Morning Prayer (a study guide for Psalm 5). David Guzik.

Misc:

Five strophes (sections or divisions in a poem) in Psalm 5:

  1. Coming to God (1-3): Morning prayer.
  2. Affirming God's Character (4-6): God is just.
  3. Experiencing Reconciliation (7-8): Enter God's presence.
  4. Explaining Liars (9-10): Liars never prevail.
  5. Finding Refuge (11-12): Take refuge in God.

Possible titles for Psalm 5: Feeling Bad. Tell God Your Feelings. Meet God in the Morning.

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