I think it’s becoming increasingly more common to teach something “offensive” as we make our way through Scripture. You don’t even have to TRY and find something “offensive” to teach in Scripture. It used to be that the topic of Sin, was a common one, seeing as how the Bible is the actual unfolding plan of redemption for mankind. Or on the topic of Hell. Well, that’s just “verboten” nowadays. Or God’s attributes, especially when it comes to His Holiness or His Wrath. Or here today with Psalm 5; a Psalm containing some strong language about how God actually hates evildoers.
This then begs the question: who gets to dictate WHO the God of the Bible is? It seems clear that our culture has created a “designer God”. One that has been created in OUR own image instead of the other way around.
Maybe we’ve been placed in this time and culture by God’s will, perhaps FOR such a time as this. A time where we, as Christ-bearers, are to uphold the truth of God’s Word. Because as we examine Psalm 5 and the truths that the Holy Spirit gives us, we find things that might challenge our thinking in terms of God’s attributes, His character and nature, as He’s revealed them to us in His Word.
You might say, “God is unknowable. How could we as finite human beings ever know the infinite God?”. We can’t know Him as He is completely, but we can know Him as He’s revealed Himself in His Word to us! We get to look forward to an eternity of knowing more and more of Him. Even in our completed, glorified state, it will take an eternity to know Him as He really is. But we are CALLED to know Him HERE, NOW as He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. Remember the 2 objectives of the Christian’s life as we had learned while studying 2 Peter with Pastor Dale:
- To KNOW Him, and
- To be TRANSFORMED INTO HIS LIKENESS.
So with that, we begin our journey into Psalm 5
- One of 73 Psalms attributed to King David.
- David contrasts the character and nature between the godly and that of the wicked
- This Psalm is a solemn prayer to God.
(READING OF PSALM 5)
Looking at the overall flavor of his particular Psalm, we see a pattern. David cries out to God like this: “Help me! And while you’re at it, harm them!”. It’s both a supplication to God for David’s own trouble and a Curse upon those who have come against him. I want us to see that when David prays to God saying (effectively), “Help me and harm them”, that although David prays this way, the NEW Covenant tells us (Christians) that we are NOT to adopt that same prayer. David indeed DOES cry out for God for Divine Justice against his enemies.
How do WE apply that? Jesus Himself, in accordance with the NEW Covenant, told us that we are to PRAY FOR our enemies, and even to do good to them. So what’s the commonality there between the way David prays and the way we apply this? It’s this: that we, LIKE David, ARE to put our enemies into the hands of the Lord. Under the Old Covenant, for David, it was Justice, but for us, under the New Covenant, it is to be Mercy. The same kind of Mercy that we, who are in Christ, have received.
David’s prayer begins, “Give ear to my words, O Lord;…”. We pray to a God who hears our prayers. Scripture affirms this throughout. He heard your prayer when you were still His enemy. He heard you when you called out to Him to save you. If He heard you when you were His enemy, do you think He suddenly stopped hearing you now that you’re one of His kids? If you’re going through something right now and you wonder whether He hears your cries in the night… you perish that thought. He hears you. He heard you before you even began to pray. So be encouraged, your prayers have reached His ears.
We continue to the second part of Verse 1 here, we read, “…consider my groaning.”. Our God not only hears our prayers but takes our cries, our groanings, into His wise consideration. Remember that Scripture is God-breathed, it is Inspired. That David writes, seeking God to consider his groanings was by design of the Holy Spirit. It is, among others things, to inform us that God indeed DOES consider our groanings, our meditations, our cries, and our prayers. See, David’s prayers were not words only. His words in prayer, as ours should be, are merely the clothes that hang upon our deepest groanings, our greatest meditations in prayer. That is to say, that prayer is not some rote, mechanical exercise by which we spit out some formulaic set of words, hoping to plug that into the Cosmic Vending Machine, expecting some move of God because we said the right words or uttered the right formula. I’m sick and tired of people in this country reducing the All-Consuming Fire, the Alpha and the Omega, The Beginning and The End, The One Who called all things into existence into nothing more than a spiritual butler who exists for no other reason than to satisfy our every wish, or our every desire.
The point I’m driving at here is two-fold: Number 1, that God doesn’t just hear our words, He considers our hearts, our meditations, our groanings. And Number 2, He Who calls the stars by name, He Who laid the foundations of the Earth, He Who’s name alone causes the demons to shake in terror – HE wisely and lovingly considers our groanings, our meditations that give flight to our prayers. Amazing! What an encouragement.
In looking at the end of Verse 1 here, we want to be cognizant to join our meditations with our prayers. They aren’t to be separated from one another. There have been times in my own life that I’ve found myself praying before a meal, and I’m just running through the prayer so that I can hurry up and eat. No surprise there, by looking at me right? I’m praying without any feeling or meaning. But then I become aware of the lack of it and the rote nature of the prayer I just uttered and I actually start over. I intentionally mean every single word. And once satisfied that my heart was involved, I conclude my prayer. Our prayers and our hearts, our prayers ALONG WITH our meditations and groanings are to be married.
And we see David continuing with his plea to God in Verse 2, where in a very similar manner he says, “Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.”. Firstly, where David is petitioning God to give attention to the “sound of [his] cry” we are reminded that cries do indeed carry sound. Within the context of prayer, this speaks to the sound of a cry that reaches the very heart of God Himself. I’m talking about a soul-moving sound, that comes from our heart and reaches God’s heart. Most of us can relate to times where our prayers lacked words and contained only cries. Be encouraged friends, the Lord can understand full-well the meanings of His children’s cries. How many of you know that there’s a difference in praying to God and crying out to God?
We also see something else here in Verse 2 that we need to pay careful attention to. The pronoun “my” when David says “My King and my God”. Now, we who are in Christ, believe that God is both King as well as God. But Verse 2 offers us this encouragement: That He isn’t just God of Gods and King of Kings. He is OUR God and He is OUR King. So let your faith and your hope be encouraged by this truth about our Heavenly Father: He hears you. As long as we pray fervently and in faith, we have all assurances that God has heard our case. We are after all, His people upon this earth and His ears are ever open to us. We are not foreign to Him. He is indeed our King and our God.
David concludes Verse 2 with the words, “…for to you do I pray”. This is David’s clear declaration that he prays to God alone. He is the very object of our worship. Even if an answer doesn’t come (or an answer to his prayer isn’t the answer David would hope for), he made this resolution: that as long as he lived, He would pray. And that he would pray to God alone. Throughout his life, David learned that it was God’s sufficiency alone, not David’s, that could be relied upon. And we are well to remember the same. And be encouraged by it.
In addition to David’s declaration in Verse 2 that he will pray to God alone, here in Verse 3 we observe a resolution where David writes “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.”. He says “…you hear my voice”. He is resolute in his faith that indeed God WILL hear his prayers. Here in Verse 3, he stands on what he knows to be true about God to comfort him in his time of trouble. Do you follow that? When we pray, it’s helpful to be sure to stand on the truth of Who God is to bookend our prayers. In this case, the assurance that you are NOT ignored in your prayer.
David also makes mention of the morning here, that “…in the morning you hear my voice”. When does the Lord hear your voice?
- I’ve never been a morning person.
- “An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening”. And, “Before we see the face of man, we should first see the face of God.”
- We are to give God the best part of our day.
David finishes this verse using something of the language of an archer. He says “…in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch”. He’s saying that he’s going to direct his prayers to God and then watch them hit their mark. David is taking careful aim in his prayers. He directs his prayers heavenward and watches expectantly. When you pray, cause your heart to look up and watch, keeping the stream of your meditations ever-flowing. We must guard against allowing our prayers to be like brief flashes of heat and instead be more like the constant smoldering of a well-kindled fire.
David changes focus a bit here in Verse 4 where He underlines the Holiness of God. David writes, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you”. He pleads “against” his wicked and evil enemies. It’s an interesting plea because he’s arguing for God to take them away from David because God is displeased with such people and that God Himself will have no parlay with evil and wickedness. In other words, he’s sort of saying, “God, YOU hate evil – so I beg you to deliver ME from it”.
And this brings us to a solemn and often uncomfortable truth of the hatred that our Just God harbors against sin. It’s no small thing that required the very blood of Christ to pay the ransom for sinners. God won’t afford any shelter to sin. Somehow we have come to accept this notion that it’s okay to look like and live like the world and profess to be “Spirit-filled Christians” and be okay with that. Take a look at our culture to see how far we’ve gone. Especially churches. How many “churches” today are more like Six Flags or Cirque du Soleil or some Vegas show, rather than preaching Christ crucified?
Many modern American Christians hold this view that Jesus is just some “Cosmic Hippie” where He floats around and loves everything, tolerates every manner of sin and respects every culture or expression of fallen mankind. But let’s look at the reality of it: Everybody wants to talk about how God is love, but nobody wants to talk about the biblical definition of God’s love. You’ve no doubt heard it said, and you may even say this yourself, “God is love. God doesn’t hate anybody”. No, my friends. “We must understand something: The Lord Jesus taught us, the Apostles taught us, the Prophets of God taught us this: that apart from the saving Grace of God revealed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ our Lord, the only thing left for us is the Wrath, the fierce anger of God because of our rebellion and our sin” [Paul Washer].
Verse 5 highlights that truth. David writes, “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.”. Those of us who are truly in Christ Jesus have never known God’s hatred. What an absolutely terrifying thing to fall into the very hatred of the Living God. To be hated by God is a most awful thing. If this fact alone doesn’t cause us to be more evangelistic, more prayerful for those who are lost, more prayerful on behalf of our enemies, then we’re asleep.
And just as much as God hates those who are described as “evilDOERS” are those who SPEAK evil. In Verse 6, David continues, saying “You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”. Again, this is a reiteration of God’s Holy character. He is Holy and because He is Holy, He is Just. God destroys liars? We read in Revelation 21:8 that liars will have their portion in the lake of fire. The Lord “abhors” the bloodthirsty and deceitful man? Friends, that is terrifying language.
I want to make two quick points:
- First: If you are truly in Christ, you have no part in God’s wrath. Jesus Christ Himself bore the wrath of God that was due to you and I. Christ truly is the Passover Lamb. God’s wrath passed over you and I who bear the blood of Christ upon us. Praise God for that truth. And, if you find yourself foreign to Christ, don’t let the sun go down before you cry out for the Mercy of God upon you.
- Second: If you truly knew and understood the wrath and hatred of the Living God, you wouldn’t want your WORST enemies to face Him in that condition. So let us pray that God causes those in rebellion against Him to come to the Cross and find their salvation in Him before the end.
In the first part of this Psalm, David went from petitioning the Lord to consider his groaning and cries and then he moved on to describing the character, and ultimately the fate, of the wicked as an argument for his own rescue. But now, David contrasts that with the condition of the righteous. David writes, “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house…”.
- He’s declaring that he won’t stand at a distance from God.
- Look at the condition by which he can boldly walk in: through the ABUNDANCE OF [HIS] STEADFAST LOVE he will enter the presence of God.
David continues in Verse 7 saying, “…I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.”. David declares that he will fix his eyes toward the temple of God in Heaven. And we, like David, are therefore to turn our own eyes Heavenward, and fix them upon the object of our worship, the Lord Jesus Christ and the beauty of His Holiness.
In Verse 8, David goes back over familiar territory when writes, “Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.”. Notice that David doesn’t say, “Make MY way straight”. He says, “Make YOUR way straight before me”. He doesn’t want his own way. What a model for our own lives.
David then describes the condition of the wicked here in Verse 9 where he writes, “For there is no truth in their mouth;…”. WHY are we surprised when the world talks like the world and says the things that they do? Why are we so dumbfounded that they act according to the flesh?
David continues, “…their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.”. An open grave, yikes. This is a figure of speech that provides a barrage of imagery: ugliness, evil, poison, and death. And the worst part is that it’s an OPEN grave. That the noxious gases of ugliness, evil, poison, and death spread themselves all around with great destructive power. We may recoil at the horrors of God’s wrath in His Justice against sin but… wouldn’t we (in Christ) count it a mercy if He were to close those graves forever? All of that wickedness, all of that evil that is breathed out from the hearts of the unregenerate world in its rebellion against God. How dangerous is our fellowship with such a system? How can we be near it and not be affected? Turn off the news. Stop arguing on social media. Christ will ALWAYS be on the Throne and He is UNMOVED. All the time spent in proximity to the noxious gases of the world’s system and its talking heads, is time spent NOT in communion with Christ.
David speaks in Verse 10 saying, “Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.”. Notice David says “rebelled against YOU” not “rebelled against ME”. Remember that earlier, we were careful to note that WE are to forgive our enemies. But WE don’t have the power to forgive GOD’S enemies. We can’t pronounce forgiveness and redemption upon another in God’s place. Salvation belongs to the Lord. Here in Verse 10, David is sort of speaking as God’s mouth. You might say that David is warning sinners of the impending penalty for rebellion against the Most High.
By contrast, Joy belongs to the believer. Consider this reality: when sinners are destroyed on the final day, our rejoicing will be full. Why? Because now they laugh … but will weep forevermore. Whereas now WE weep, but we will rejoice forevermore. What a joy, what a mercy that ONE DAY, all the evil of the world and those who hate God will be shut away forever. In Verse 11, David writes, “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.”. Our Joy has a firm foundation and lies in the Most High God. We love God and we delight in Him. When we feed on His Word, we eat a sumptuous meal indeed because we eat with HIM.
And now we come to the close of this Psalm where David concludes with these words in Verse 12: “For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.”. Let our great enemy come. Let him fire his fiery arrows. What can prevail against us if God girds us about and covers us with favor as with a shield? God disarms our enemy, God empties the hands of our tempter and restrains his evil against us. We could never wrestle with our enemy under our own sufficiency and strength. Be encouraged: Christ has overcome the world and no weapon formed against you shall prosper. If God be for us, who can be against us? Where can we go for shelter but to God our Maker? Let us never pretend to stand upon our own strength or skill. Let us stay nearer to God, keep intimate in our prayers, and let us remember that if Christ, who now intercedes for us, is praying for us, that we cannot fail.