John T. Willis

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Psalmist Pleads for Protection from Enemies--Psalm 5

The superscription of Psalm 5 reads: "To the leader: for the flutes. A Psalm of David." Evidence suggests that all the superscriptions are later additions to the original psalm. Nothing in the content of Psalm 5 favors or opposes the idea that David originally wrote this psalm. It is safest to consider Psalm 5 as a poem written in a circumstance in which the composer faced problems with enemies. Psalm 5 naturally falls into four parts based on the "persons" emphasized.

I. The psalmist beseeches Yahweh to answer his prayer. Psalm 5:1-3.
    a. The dominant pronoun in verses 1-3 is "I" and "my." This indicates that the psalmist is greatly concerned about his own personal situation at this point in his life.
    b. The psalmist beseeches Yahweh to "give ear to" his words, "give heed to" his sighing," "listen to" the sound of his cry. These are powerful terms for "pleading" or "begging" or "entreating." 5:1-2a.
    c. The psalmist refers to his "words," "sighing," "cry," "prayer," "voice," and "case," "plea," and "watch." The poet clearly thinks he has a "legal case" which Yahweh should address. By implication, others have made charges or accusations against him. 5:1-3.
    d. The composer owns Yahweh as "my King and my God." This might imply that the speaker is an earthly king, and he is emphasizing that he is subservient to Yahweh, the real king. 5:2.

II. The psalmist praises Yahweh for who he is. Psalm 5:4-8.
     a. After emphasizing his own critical situation, the psalmist turns to Yahweh to stress the nature and importance of Yahweh. First, he emphasizes the striking difference between Yahweh and the psalmist's enemies. Yahweh is a God who does not delight in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with him; the boastful will not stand before his eyes; Yahweh hates all evildoers; Yahweh destroys those who speak lies; Yahweh abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful. The liars, bloodthirsty, and deceitful are apparently the psalmist's enemies who have sought to destroy him. 5:4-6.
     b. For protection from his enemies, the psalmist resolves to enter Yahweh's house, that is, Yahweh's holy temple in Jerusalem, through the abundance of Yahweh's steadfast love; and then bow down toward the temple in awe of Yahweh. He beseeches Yahweh to LEAD him in Yahweh's righteousness and MAKE Yahweh's way STRAIGHT before him. 5:7-8.

III. The psalmist describes the sinfulness of his enemies. Psalm 5:9-10.
      a. After approaching Yahweh, the psalmist turn to describe his enemies. He emphasizes FOUR of their features: (1) there is no truth in their mouths, implying that they had made false charges against the psalmist; (2) their hearts are destructions, implying that the real problem is their sinful heart; (3) their throats are open graves, showing that their intention is to destroy other people, including the psalmist; (4) they flatter with their tongues, indicating that they attempt to entrap innocent people to destroy them. 5:9.
      b. Because of their nature and actions, the psalmist entreats Yahweh to punish his enemies. He beseeches Yahweh to make his enemies bear their guilt, and let them fall by their own counsels. This is the same principle as Galatians 6:7: "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow." The psalmist beseeches Yahweh to cast out his enemies because of their transgressions, because actually they have rebelled against God. 5:10.

IV. The psalmist intercedes in behalf of others who have experienced the same problem as the psalmist. Psalm 5:11-12.
      a. The psalmist implores Yahweh to let all who take refuge in Yahweh will rejoice and ever sing for joy, to spread Yahweh's protection over them so that those who love Yahweh's name may exult in Yahweh. 5:11.
      b. The psalmist concludes that praises Yahweh because Yahweh blesses the righteous and covers them with favor as with a "shield." The Bible often uses the metaphor of "shield" as a symbol of Yahweh's protection. 5:12.

Share YOUR insights and thoughts and shortcomings and experiences and fears with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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