Psalms 1 - 50by Mike Raiter
A woman once shared with me that the betrayal of a loved one had made her life hell for years. Few things hurt more, or do more emotional damage, than the unkind or untrue words of others. The book of Psalms reflects, and expresses, how painful this can be. Psalms of lament form the largest category: there are 47 full psalms of lament, while many others contain some lament.
David knew the pain of being a victim of wickedness. In this lament he cries out to God, then waits expectantly for deliverance (Psalm 5:2-3). David is confident God will hear him because He hates evildoers, especially those who hurt others through bloodshed, deceit, and lies (vv. 5-6). You often hear that ″God hates the sin but loves the sinner″, but it's not that simple. Certainly we confess, ″for God so loved the world″ (John 3:16), but God does not separate a person from his behaviour. God holds people accountable for their wickedness.
Unlike the wicked, David can enter God's presence. However, he recognises that this privilege comes not from his godly conduct, but out of God's steadfast love, or grace (Psalm 5:7).
David knows the pain of being a victim of enemies whose ″throat is an open grave″; lies bring death, not life (v. 9). He calls on God to ″declare them guilty″ (v. 10). The apostle Paul quotes Psalm 5:9 in Romans 3:13 as he demonstrates that ″the whole world [is] accountable to God″ (v. 19). But Paul also proceeds to describe how Jesus has atoned for sin so that, by faith, those who were once wicked can be justified and reckoned among the righteous (vv. 21-26).
Like Psalms 3:8 and 4:7-8, Psalm 5 closes with David affirming that the righteous will always be blessed by God and live under His protection (5:11-12). This truth is so wonderful that they will burst out in songs of joy (v. 11).
The woman in my opening story lamented that she was the victim of malice and betrayal. Hurt made her bitter and miserable. She could have trusted God for healing. Those who love and trust God, like David, may still lament, but they can be confident that God will ultimately hear their prayers, bring justice, and turn their cries for help into songs of joy.
Jesus said, ″By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned″ (Matthew 12:37). Why does God take so seriously the words that we say?
Psalm 5 is a morning prayer (v. 3). What does this fact teach us about the prayer life of God's people?