For September 2022, I’m trying to read and reflect – briefly – on a Psalm each day. I’ll read the Psalm, pray, and then ponder a few questions:
- What is this Psalm about?
- What does this Psalm teach about God?
- How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I’ll close the post with a simple prayer, trying to draw the themes together.
It’s the 5th of September, so here is Psalm 5:
1 Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
2 Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
3 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
4 For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
5 The arrogant cannot stand
in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;
6 you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
you, Lord, detest.
7 But I, by your great love,
can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
toward your holy temple.
8 Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies—
make your way straight before me.
9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with malice.
Their throat is an open grave;
with their tongues they tell lies.
10 Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 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.
12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
What is this Psalm about?
This Psalm appears to be about the relationship of the Psalmist or Psalm-singer/prayer to God – and the way of life that God would have the Psalmist pursue. There is a particularly interesting contrast between the typically human denigration of foes (verse 6!) and the recognition that it is only God’s love that makes God’s people difference (Verse 7). I wonder whether this Psalm shows us how close we are to our foes, even when we might feel that they are very unlike us.
What does this Psalm teach about God?
As with Psalm 4, we see again that this is a God who can be spoken to, and a God who is involved. We see too that this is a God who will direct and guide, who relates reciprocally to those he loves. Further, we see that God detests some things. The God of Psalm 5 is not a God who doesn’t care, or a God indifferent to evil or wickedness. This is perhaps the most jarring thing in comparison and contrast to the way we might like to think about God – but it’s there in black and white. And this black and white-ness, here, is a good thing – because God hates evil, he will protect his people and do good. There is a plan, and it is God’s.
How does this Psalm connect to God’s people today?
I wonder if there is an important reminder – the Psalm starts small, with prayers in the morning. Do we? Do I? Yet it moves to a bigger picture, of God’s ultimate plan for the good of those who love him. Both in the same Psalm. The big and the small. That inclusion of both in one Psalm seems significant for those of us who can so easily default to either focusing on the small (which is good!) or the big, particularly the end of things (which is also good!). I think that is an important reminder for balance.
A Prayer from Psalm 5