By Diane Caston
I didn’t realize when I chose this study that it would be the first of a new year! A new year is always a time of reflection, a time for looking back at the last year, and a time of looking forward – wondering what the new year will hold.
Most of the things that will happen in the coming year are out of our control. They just happen, but there are some things we have total control over. People usually make resolutions around this time, because let’s face it, we all have things we’d like to change about our lives!
Statistically, from a popular news source, only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are ever kept.
The top 5 are:
Stay fit and healthy 37%
Lose weight 32%
Enjoy life to the fullest 28%
Spend less, save more 25%
Spend more time with family and friends 19%
No where on that top 5 list does it even mention improving our spiritual lives. Sadly, fewer and fewer people even care about their spiritual lives.
But this Psalm is the perfect place to begin our year. I don’t know if you are anything like me, but life seems to be getting more and more difficult as the years pass. Disappointments, family issues, financial issues, natural disasters that affect friends and family, divisive politics, wars and famines and displaced people, disappointed expectation; the list goes on.
So Psalms 5 gives us a remedy. Go to the Lord with your resolutions, your worries, your cares, your heartbreak, your concerns. Too many times we run to friends; we complain to associates; we worry, but our friends often don’t get it. They can’t, because they don’t know the things we know or feel the things we are feeling. So we should be going to the One who made us, the One who truly understands, because He knows us from the inside out. He also understands every detail of the struggles we’re having and just how He is going to use them to strengthen us.
Psalms 5 is a prayer of distress because the malice of David’s enemies. He comes to God for direction because of the confusion of the actions of others.
Read Psalm 5
David gives God the glory, and takes to himself the comfort, of God's holiness.
1. For himself, that God would guide him,
2. Against his enemies, that God would destroy them
3. For all the people of God, that God would give them joy, and keep them safe
Vs. 1 Give ear to my words oh Lord – we want the Lord to hear us when we pray. We want Him to Give us His ear. We call out to him to listen to me.
Consider my meditation – the things I’ve been contemplating, the worries and concerns of my heart, the things running around in our thoughts, look on them Lord!
Vs. 2 Hearken – (listen) to the voice of my cry, don’t let me be just talking to the air, listen to me, I’m crying out, my King and my God! We must remember when we pray Who we are praying to, the King of the Universe, the Creator of all things.
For unto to thee will I pray – we are seeking Him, not anything or anyone else to come to our aid, to be our help.
(RA Torrey) "Very much of so-called prayer, both public and private, is not unto God. In order that a prayer should be really unto God, there must be a definite and conscious approach to God when we pray; we must have a definite and vivid realization that God is bending over us and listening as we pray."
Vs. 3 My voice you will hear in the morning, you don’t even start the day w/o coming to Him, exalting Him, confessing your sin, asking for His help and protection for the trials of the day. Asking for the infilling of His Holy Spirit. Not waiting until calamity comes to seek His face.
Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary to China, (one of my heroes) had trouble finding time alone with God. He began to wake himself up at 2:00 in the morning and using those quiet hours when everyone else slept to commune with God. Thankfully most of us don’t need to do that. When I was first born again, my favorite time was during the middle of the night feeding of my baby with my Good News for Modern Man on my lap discovering the Word of God as a brand new thing! I couldn’t get enough! Sometimes we just wake up in the night for no reason that we can figure out. Take advantage of this time! Seek the Lord. Maybe He is trying to get your attention and speak to you about something.
" An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening. While the dew is on the grass, let grace drop upon the soul." (Spurgeon)
Oh Lord in the morning will I direct my prayer – The idea behind direct is not "to aim" but "to order, to arrange."
(Spurgeon) "It is the word that is used for the laying in order of the wood and pieces of the victim upon the altar, and it is used also for the putting of the shewbread upon the table. It means just this: 'I will arrange my prayer before thee;' I will lay it out upon the altar in the morning, just as the priest lays out the morning sacrifice."
There is a price to pay for the sacrifice of prayer. We must be willing to be the sacrifice, to lay ourselves, our desires on the altar before the Lord. Rom 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Where do we direct our prayers?
Unto thee, And will look up – as a result of seeking Him, our whole perspective can be changed, what is worrying us can be lifted, what we planned to do with the day can be changed. We look to Him. Our focus is changed from our short sightedness to the miraculous things He can do. We remember to trust and commit all of your cares into His capable hands. During the difficult times we have to keep coming back, keep putting the sacrifice on the altar, altering our thinking, looking up.
Col. 3:2 “Set your mind on things above, not on things of this earth.”
Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
2 Corinthians 10: 4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
This is a discipline we do well to practice! Learn that our weaknesses begin in our thoughts. Disciple them! Don’t let them run away with you and bring up emotions that pull you down and seek to destroy you! This will save you an incredible amount of pain and frustration.
(Spurgeon) "Do we not miss very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by a want of careful meditation before it, and of hopeful expectation after it? Let holy preparation link hands with patient expectation, and we shall have far larger answers to our prayers."
Maybe this is why David wrote and sang His prayers. He was contemplating on God, he was arranging what he wants to say to him. He is reminding himself of who God is. He was making his personal sacrifice. He was battling the devil. He was looking up!
Vs. 4 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. 5 The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.6 You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man .
When David sees the wickedness of his enemies he reminds the Lord, but really himself, what God is really like, that He doesn’t forget the wickedness of man, that He sees the evil others do to us, and that for the unrepentant, there is judgement. He doesn’t have to worry that they’ll get away with their evil plans.
As David drew closer to God he became more aware of God's holiness and man's sinfulness.
(Boice) "This is a good way to measure how well you are praying and whether, as you pray, you are drawing close to God or are merely mouthing words. If you are drawing close to God, you will become increasingly sensitive to sin, which is inevitable since the God you are approaching is a holy God."
Vs.7 But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. 8 Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face.
David knew where He needed to go, into the house of the Lord, to worship before the Lord, to get instruction from the Lord. When our enemies come against us, have you ever noticed, it doesn’t bring out the best in us, quite the opposite. So, so that we don’t become just like our enemies, we need to get an attitude adjustment. We need to go to the presence of the Lord and bring our troubles to Him, to remember who He is and what He is capable of, and to get specific instruction from Him and keep our hearts in the right place.
This is David's confidence. It isn't that he is righteous and all others are sinners; his ground of confidence is the mercy of God.
This also reflects David's constant reliance on God. He needs God to lead him and to make the way straight. David's contrast between the wicked and the godly is to be humble, and he knows it is only God's power and work in him that can keep him from the way of the wicked.
Vs. 9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth;
There is no faithfulness in their mouth: David focuses on what the wicked say as evidence of their wickedness. David knew what Jesus said later in Matthew 12:34: ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’. Our righteousness or wickedness will sooner or later show up in our speech.
Their inward part is destruction; Their throat is an open tomb; They flatter with their tongue.
The wicked are good at what they do, because they are tools of the wicked one. Inside they desire to destroy you; outside they flatter you! But the Lord knows who they are and how to deal with them.
10 Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, For they have rebelled against You.
Let them fall by their own counsels: David prays that the wicked will come to their deserved end. As rebels against God, they deserve the "guilty" sentence.
After his lament David adds a sharp contrast of the righteous of those who love the Lord.
Vs.11 But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You
Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You: The righteous aren't made righteous by their words. The righteous are those who trust the LORD and love His name. But their righteousness is evident in their words. They rejoice, they shout for joy, and they are joyful in the LORD.
; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Imagine that – the Lord of the universe defends you, because He loves you!
"A touch of enthusiasm would be the salvation of many a man's religion. Some Christians are good enough people: they are like wax candles, but they are not lighted. Oh, for a touch of flame! Then would they scatter light, and thus become of service to their families. 'Let them shout for joy.' Why not? Let not orderly folks object. One said to me the other day, 'When I hear you preach I feel as if I must have a shout!' My friend, shout if you feel forced to do so. (Here a hearer cried, 'Glory!') Our brother cries, 'Glory!' and I say so too. 'Glory!' The shouting need not always be done in a public service, or it might hinder devout hearing; but there are times and places where a glorious outburst of enthusiastic joy would quicken life in all around. The ungodly are not half so restrained in their blasphemy as we are in our praise."
Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You.
Joy is the reward for those who love the Lord. “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Neh 8:10 When the storms swirl around us, when no one understands, we can come to the Lord, and He can make us full of joy in the middle of our trial. He can lift us into the heavens above the anxiety, frustration and care and we can become full of joy, because we are joyful in Him, not the circumstances!
12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield. And then He makes all things right, because He blesses the righteous, He protects us, He fights the fight for us, so that we can rest in Him.
In conclusion Matthew Henry states – “And this is all of great use to direct us in prayer to God whom I have affirmed for my God, to whom I have sworn allegiance, and under whose protection I have put myself as my King.
We believe that the God we pray to is a King, and a God. King of kings and God of gods; but that is not enough: the most commanding encouraging principle of prayer, and the most powerful or prevailing plea in prayer, is to look upon him as our King and our God, to whom we lie under peculiar obligations and from whom we have peculiar expectations.
Although God is in heaven, he has an ear open to his people's prayers, and it is not heavy, that he cannot hear. Men perhaps will not or cannot hear us; our enemies are so haughty that they will not, our friends at such a distance that they cannot; but God, though high, though in heaven, can, and will.
He will, in due time, return a gracious answer of peace; for so David prays: Hearken to the voice of my cry. His prayer was a cry; it was the voice of his cry, which denotes fervency of affection and persistance of expression; and such effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man avail much and do wonders.”
I think we sometimes stay His miraculous works by our worry and concern and our lack of faith in what He wants to do. Let’s take this Psalm to heart and meet our Lord daily with our prayers.