To the chief Musician upon Ne’-hi-loth,
A Psalm of David
Christian, Pray the Psalms
1 Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation.
A High View of God
2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.
Praying in Faith
3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
The Character of God
4For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. 5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. 6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.
What David will Do
7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.
A Petition for Divine Guidance
8 Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.
Why Divine Guidance is Needed
Because Evil is so Militant
9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.
An Imprecatory Prayer
(To Invoke Evil Upon, or Curse)
10 Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.
A Contrast to the Wicked
11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. 12 For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield”.
In Psalm 5 David was directed to the chief Musician, who was to sing the Psalm with a musical wind instrument called a Nehiloth (nekh-ee-law’), which may have been a pipe or a flute. The principle is established that good music and good musical instruments are to be enjoyed in the worship of God.
Unfortunately, the use of instruments in worship has been made an issue in some churches. The Church of Christ forbids musical instruments in a worship service. However, they will use a Jew’s harp to find the pitch to start the song. When I was in college, and not preaching on the weekend, I would sometimes attend a Reformed Presbyterian Church and enjoy the music of the non-instrumental congregation. At times, the singing seemed angelic in sound. Charles Spurgeon did not allow musical instruments to be used in the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
While good people are not united on this point, it is enough for us to say with David, “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. 2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. 3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. 4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. 5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 150:1-6).
As Psalm 5 unfolds, we find David considering, and contrasting his own righteousness with the wicked who opposed him. David has looked into his own heart regarding a desperate situation he was facing, and he reached a conclusion. He perceived he was innocent of sin, and therefore more righteous than those who oppose him.
The concept of self-examination is a Biblical teaching. Before taking communion a person is to examine himself (1 Cor. 11:28). The Bible says that “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31). A realistic self-evaluation has to take place because it is the nature of sin to make those who are righteous appear to be wrong. This is a great tactic of Satan, and one of his most effective tools.
Adam and Eve first manifested this line of reasoning when held accountable for their sin. They both acted in a treacherous manner. Both were willful in doing wrong, and then acted as if God were more guilty than they were. Their sin was His fault. It is the nature of evil to manipulate others, and try and make them look unreasonable, and wrong.
The prophets of God and the apostles, faced this reversal of reality. These individuals were consistently persecuted when they pricked the conscience of their fellowmen. The world asked, “Why are you stirring up trouble?” “Paul, why did you cause a riot by preaching against idolatry? You are causing social unrest!”
The scribes and the Pharisees became angry at Jesus. They said He was causing so much political unrest that Rome was concerned another Jewish insurrection was about to take place. The High Priest concluded that it was better for one Man to die than that the whole nation perish.
Of course, the real trouble in society was sin, not the Saviour, and not His servants. Human nature has not changed. Let anyone take a stand for righteousness, and the wicked charges will be launched. “Christian, you are causing trouble! You are responsible for the unhappiness of the moment!” The reason for this hostility against the righteous can be summarized. The heart of the wicked says in essence, “I don’t want to be lectured! I don’t want to be judged! I don’t want to be made to feel guilty. You have no right to condemn what I say or do!”
What is lost to the ungodly is the origin of their sin. What has been distorted by the wicked is their rebellion against God and His order for life. What is forgotten is that sin is an emotional revolt in the soul against the Sovereign of the Universe. But all this is obscured in the frantic search for peace at any price. The world wants to do wrong, and have peace about it. But there is no peace, saith my God, for the wicked (Isa. 48:22).
In a desperate attempt to find peace, the world will try to silence the voice of righteousness and reason. Winston Churchill, for a time, just prior to September 1, 1939, was banned from speaking on the BBC. Why? Because he dared to tell the English people that there was a madman in Germany who was trying to destroy Europe. A multitude of people stood up to declare that Churchill was the one causing all the problem, but he wasn’t. Mr. Churchill was simply trying to stop the mindless, self-destructive, and other destructive tendency of the real culprit, Adolf Hitler. But many people did not understand. They did not have all the facts at their disposal. The people in England had been told by trusted leaders that Churchill was wrong. Had they been more inquiring, and more discerning, they would not have come to that conclusion. But men, like Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, told the people non truths about Churchill for his own private, political reasons.
There is a lesson to learn from history regarding the voice of the many in assessing a serious situation. They have a tendency to be wrong most of the time. Political and spiritual leaders have often had to stand alone, and even apart from those who should have known better.
Moses had to stand against the collective leadership of Israel, represented in Nathan and Abiram. Elijah opposed the prophets of Baal by himself. Daniel refused to eat the king’s meat that had been offered to idols. Esther challenged the political intrigues of Haman at great personal risk. It is not easy to stand up, and stand alone, against a wicked society, and powerful individuals. But it is the will of God.
As David looked at his situation, as David examined his own heart, as David assessed the behavior of those who were acting wickedly, he objectively came to believe that God was on his side, and not on the side of those acting against him. David would not accept a verdict of guilt from the mouth of the wicked. The world must not be turned upside down. Truth and justice must prevail. For David, the issue was not error in judgment, but sin to be dealt with. Those who are guilty of inappropriate behavior always want the focus of attention to be diverted from truth, and focused upon some peripheral issue so that the real evil can go unopposed.
The strategy of shifting the focus of attention from what is morally right or wrong, to something else, is a clever tactic. The world would rather talk about pro- choice than deal with the reality of the slaughter of an innocent child in the womb of a woman. The world would much rather talk about racism, than deal with broken homes, unwed mothers, and government dependency. The world would rather speak about homophobia, than consider the destructive behavior of homosexuality. The satanic strategy of division works in the world, and it works in the church, and we need to be aware of it. The apostle tells Christians not to be ignorant of the wiles, or tricks of the Devil. But we often are, and justice is not served. When David faced the critics of injustice in his life, he did what can only be done in his situation. He began to pray.
There are two sorts of prayers. Some prayers are expressed in words. Words are not the essence of prayer, but the garments, and the garments can be beautiful, or they can be very plain. No matter, the message gets through. Some of the loveliest prayers in the Bible are very plainly clothed.
“Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!”
“Lord, save me!”
“Lord, be merciful to me the sinner!”
While some prayers are expressed in words, other prayers are expressed without words, in the form of meditation. Moses at the Red Sea cried to God, though he said nothing. David used both types of prayer. He cultivated the spirit of prayer, as well as the habit of prayer.
In his prayer time David asked the Lord to consider what he had to say. David was not afraid to bring his situations before God and allow Him to judge the matter. To David, God was a sovereign King with infinite wisdom, the ability to perceive truth and falsehood, and the power to render a righteous verdict. There were a number of factors which gave David this holy boldness in the Lord.
First, David knew something about the character of God. David knew that God takes no pleasure in wickedness (5:4) whether it is wickedness of speech, moral conduct, or disposition of the heart. David knew that evil would not be allowed to dwell in God’s presence. One reason why some people leave the church, is that God will not let them dwell in His presence. They feel uncomfortable, and out of place, and they are out of place. The church is a called out assembly. Therefore, the foolish will not be allowed to stand forever in God’s sight (5:5).
Second, David knew that justice demands action. God has given to mankind many forms of government to protect truth and righteousness, such as, parents in the home, elders (pastors) in the church, presidents in government, and professionals, such as teachers in the classroom. Yet, at times, all of the forms of government can fail. When the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on Friday, June 26, 2015 that gay marriage is a Constitutional right, it failed.
What can be done? Part of the answer might include, civil disobedience. At times, civil disobedience is justified, for men ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
The ultimate answer to human injustice is divine intervention. At times like these, God alone must come to do something, and He will come. The history of Israel serves as an example. There were periods in Jewish history when the whole nation was in a state of apostasy. Homes were in chaos. False prophets cried “Peace! Peace!”, but there was no peace. Government officials took bribes, while oppressing the widows and orphans. False weights were being used in the market place, as business men cheated the public. Finally, God had to intervene to destroy those that were speaking lies without repentance.
Sometimes, when all forms of accountability fails, and justice is not served, the only thing that can be done is to stand back, and see the deliverance of the Lord. Divine deliverance will come, because God will destroy those who lie (5:6). God will destroy the wicked that are not faithful (5:9), including those in America by way of warning and application, for such people have a mouth as a grave yard. Death is in their hearts. While they flatter with their tongue, in the end, they will be destroyed by their own counsel. This happened to Absalom. In the same field where Absalom raised an army against his father, there stood an oak tree that became his hanging tree. The mule Absalom rode on became his hangman (5:6, 10). His own counsel of rebellion destroyed him.
Bad counsel is still prevalent today. There is the counsel of the world, the flesh, and the devil. The counsel of the wicked declares that rebellion is alright, apostasy is normal, and if a big enough lie is told, and a person backtracks fast enough, and covers up quick enough, and misrepresents the truth well enough, anything can be gotten away with! There is no reason to fear God (5:10).
As David assessed the thinking, and techniques of the wicked, he declared what he would do in contrast. Notice what David will do. David will pray (5:2). David will go to the place of worship (5:7). David will fear God (5:7). David will ask to be different (5:8). David will plead for the wicked to be destroyed (5:10). David will encourage the righteous to rejoice, and be happy in the Lord (5:11). David will bless the righteous who will enjoy Divine protection.
Like David, let the church pray to our King, and our God. Let us say, “unto thee, O Lord, will I pray”. I will pray a prayer rooted in the knowledge of the character of God. I will pray an imprecatory prayer if necessary. I will pray a prayer for blessing, but I will pray.
One final note.
It is possible to be self-righteous. It is also possible to be righteous concerning self. David was not self-righteous, but he was confident that in some matters he was on God’s side, and God was on his side. And so David prayed.