This psalm is one of a group of psalms called a “lament” psalm. About 1/3rd of the psalms (approx. 50) are laments. Much of the book of Job is a lament; a lot of Jeremiah would be considered a lament. Then there is the book of Lamentations.
A lament is a deep pain, sorrow or grief over something. From a physical perspective, when we have physical issues in our body we cry out in pain. When we are hurting in our soul, we cry out to God in lament. Grief is a good example of a deep lament.
From a biblical perspective a lament could be considered something that we are grieving over, such as, the adherence, or lack of, to God and His law.
Many times in David’s writings, we see that he is lamenting that people are not following God, they are not holding to God’s law or they are breaking the law that God has set in place. In addition, we saw in Psalm 4, that David was lamenting the fact that people were against him personally.
In our own lives it isn’t unusual that holding fast to the righteousness of God can bring us face to face with our enemy. If righteousness is the cause for our distress, then we should probably rejoice! Cry out to God (lament) for strength and perseverance. Do not grow weary in doing good.
There are times however, when it seems the enemy is overtaking us, and we cannot seem to get an answer from God…this is when we would lament in prayer. Have you ever cried out to God and said…I don’t know what is going on Lord? This isn’t a cry for information, this is a cry of distress to God. Paul said in 2 Cor 4 that he was perplexed, but not in despair. David is certainly crying out to the Father.
[Psa 5:1-2 ESV] 1Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
David is praying to God. He is praying something very interesting…He is first praying that God will hear him when he is praying. David had confidence that God was hearing him and answering prayer. How do we know this?
[Psa 5:3 ESV] 3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Devout Jews would pray at least 3 times per day…morning prayer, midday prayer, and evening prayer. David says something here that is extremely important for us to understand. The word ‘watch’ in Hebrew word is va atsape, from tsaphah, a verb that conveys the idea of being fully aware of circumstances in order to obtain something. Quite literally, this phrase reads, “and look up.”
Every Hebrew in King Davids court would have known and understood the implication of using this word.
Readers of the original text knew that “looking up” was the equivalent of expecting a response. If you were asking for something in front of the king, you would bow low, face to the floor. If he said to you, “Look at me,” the act of raising your eyes would indicate anticipation of his answer.
David had plenty of experience with people coming before him, bowing low, then raising their eyes. David uses the same concept before God. When he would look up, he expected that the answer was on its way.
No one would ever look up at the king unless the king had granted permission.
David tells us that in prayer he makes his requests to the Lord. He would bow his face low before the Most High. But then he is able to look up. The answer has been given.
The important part of this verse is something that isn’t immediately evident. I can’t look up until the Father permits, but David certainly had confidence that the Almighty God would hear him. How many times have you cried out to God and you didn’t feel like looking up?
Do you pray knowing that His answer is on the way? Or do you pray and walk away with your head still hung low?
If you are going to wait in eager expectation, you must first hear the King say, “Look up.” That’s when you stop praying and raise your eyes to look confidently at the King…one who has heard your prayer. The One who has all the ability to change the circumstances, and if changing the circumstance is not His will for that situation, He has the power to give you the strength to walk through it.
[Psa 5:4 ESV] 4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.
As you get closer to God, there are many things about Him that become increasingly clear. One notable fact is that God is holy and in our natural state we are so unlike Him. This fact may seem elementary, however, this should make us more grateful and thankful for the enduring mercy of God.
Without the acceptance of that mercy, we have no hope of ever dwelling with God. David certainly knew the character of God…the fact that without humility; we cannot stand before His eyes.
[Psa 5:5-6 ESV] 5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. 6 You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
This would seem like a very harsh attribute of God. Doesn’t God love us, even before we are His children?
How is it that David, a man who had been an adulterer and a murderer, say through the Holy Spirit, that God hates all evildoers and abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful? Wasn’t David an evildoer at points in his life? Have we not been bloodthirsty or deceitful at times?
Theses are questions that have to be dealt with if we are to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” as Paul told Timothy.
David gives us a glimpse into those answers in the next verse.
[Psa 5:7 ESV] 7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.
David knew that it started with “steadfast love” which is the MERCY of God. David says that he bows down toward Gods holy temple in the “fear of You (God)”. If Gods temple is holy, how much more so is God whom that temple represents?
We will need to reconcile the hatred of God for evildoers and His steadfast love and mercy. Next week we will learn some truth about the nature of God that maybe we haven’t considered before.
This is important not only for us to reconcile in our own mind, but we also need to be prepared to give a defense about the hope that we have, as it says in 1 Peter 3.
Just so you know that we always need to keep things in context, Peter is talking about suffering for doing good, and how can we have hope in that context? Next week we will gain some understanding about God and the words of this text in 1 Peter 3.
Homework assignment-Read 1 Peter 3 and see what that has to do with evildoers.
Have you ever ‘lamented’ to God in prayer?
Do you look up after praying…expecting God to answer?
Are you an ‘evildoer’?