Series on the Psalms, Text: Psalm 5, Title: Remedy for Christian Doubt


In this Psalm like the four preceding Psalms there is portrayed the great divide between the righteous and the wicked. One wonders sometimes why there should ever be a question as to what side we are on. Alas, such is the nature of indwelling sin, that in spite of the clear delineation, we often stumble into doubt. One of the purposes of Psalms like this is to guide us in the right way!  There are three pleas which are made in this Psalm representing the cause of the righteous over against evil and unbelieving  men. They may be summed up in the three requests: Hear me, “Give ear O Lord”, Help me, “lead me, O Lord”, and Hold me, “Let all who take refuge in you be glad.” These three things are the inheritance of the saints of God, but that does not mean we don’t need to pray for them. There isn’t any doubt that a merciful God has all of these intentions. Just as when we pray the Lord’s prayer, we are confident of his promises, so here we give expression to the leading of the Spirit of God in order that God may be glorified for who He is and we may be helped by reminding ourselves of the source of our blessing.

I Hear Me

Does the Psalmist doubt this? No! but he will doubt it if he does not remind himself daily. Morning by morning he prays. With crying and sighing he prays, verses 1-3, Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. This is no formality. But the key thing is the manner in which he comes before God. It is not hidden from us at all, but it might be easily overlooked. Focus hard on verse 7, But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. There are two aspects to the approach. It is an approach of access or acceptance and it is an approach of awe. Verse 3 illustrates the idea of acceptance. The psalmist comes by God’s great mercies. He dare not approach any other way except in the multitude of God’s mercies. The language of verse three in the Hebrew employs a word which is used throughout the Old Testament to speak of arranging the wood and the sacrifice upon the altar. It describes the activity of the priest on arranging the consecrated bread upon the table in the sanctuary, It suggests great care in one’s approach to God. The heart of this approach is sacrifice offered according to divine prescription so that the worshipper may come into God’s presence not with the filthy rags of his own righteousness, but in the multitude of God's mercies. This is also an approach of awe and reverence. Though God is merciful David does not enter his presence carelessly. Verses 4-6 remind us of what is at stake here, You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors. Note the increasing intensity of judgment The wicked cannot dwell, they cannot stand, they will be destroyed. God hates sin. He abhors wickedness and we are full of it. Thus as we come we recognize that we would have no right at all apart from his forgiveness. It is undeserved and therefore awesome.

II Help Me

A proper understanding of the approach to God focuses David’s prayer. As the Lord taught us to pray Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, so prays the king in verses 8-10, Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies-make straight your way before me. Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit. Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. The first movement of our mind in approaching a holy God is to realize the danger to which we are exposed. David says lead me in your righteousness. In Psalm 4 he spoke of God my righteousness, but the focus here is not on  the provision of righteousness, but on the practice of it. Thy righteousness is the standard. Thy way is the path. David does not want to become like those whom God abhors. He therefore describes them graphically in verse 9.  Then he reiterates his plea that they be condemned. I wonder if we understand the abhorrence David had for that lifestyle of deceit and intrigue which totally envelops an ungodly culture?  It was an abhorrence powerful enough to make him pray that he would avoid such deceitful ways.  We know the world lies in the power of the wicked one, and we know he is the Father of lies but the sentiment of David here is echoed later by Jeremiah when he says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. The sinner is not capable of the truth. Listen to Jesus in Matthew 23 as he condemns the Pharisees. Vs.25 and 26, Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Check out Paul’s indictment in Romans 3:9-18 where he quotes this verse along with several others in describing man apart from God. Spurgeon says, "When the lion licks the lamb it isn’t a sign of affection." Is it any wonder that David calls for God’s judgment upon the unrepentant? But remember his first concern is to be preserved from their ways. Help me!

III Hold Me

In verses 11 and 12 David prays for the protection of the righteous, including himself so that they may be joyful, But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. He affirms God’s promise which is both abiding and adequate. You surround them with your favor. We are accustomed to thinking of a shield as a rather small thing, but there were ancient  curved shields as tall as a man’s body which surrounded him with protection.  I remind you that David did not see this as mere physical or material protection. If he had, he would not be able to affirm the reality of God’s protection because he was slandered and persecuted as well as hunted. Rather it was an assurance of God’s favor that would bring true joy into every situation. As Isaiah says in Isaiah 12, The Lord, the Lord is my strength and my Song. He also has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water out of the wells of salvation.

Summary of Psalm 5

In this Psalm David asserts that God hears his prayer and will help him, but he abhors the wicked and will destroy them. On the ground of God’s mercy toward sinners he asks to be kept pure from the pit of deceit and intrigue which he abhors and which characterizes those who are arrogant and unrepentant. He pleads the promised protection of the Lord which brings a song of joy to the heart of every suffering saint.