Jean’s Gospel: Psalm 5: Lead Me, O Lord – Part 2
This is Part 2 of a 4-part series on Psalm 5.
Psalm 5 is a prayer, which alternates between complaint and supplication. It is a complaint against the ungodly (i.e., unbelievers), who under the name of God, afflict the saints (i.e., believers) through lies, deceit and other wickedness; and it is a supplication for the Word of God, that it may prevail both to judge the ungodly and preserve the saints in faith, hope and love.
“To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David.
1 Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.”
In Part 1, we read David’s invocation, in which he addresses the Lord as his King and his God.
The sacrifice that is pleasing to God is “a broken and contrite heart” (Ps 51:17) which trusts, not in one’s own righteousness or works, but in the abundant mercy and steadfast love of the Lord. Prayers which originate from this kind of heart rise as incense before the Lord (see Ps 141:2). David is confident that the Lord will hear his prayer and will watch attentively for His answer.
This week we pick up Psalm 5 at verse 4:
“4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”
The church has always been a mix of believers and unbelievers. In the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds (see Matt 13:24-30), Jesus compares the church to a “field,” in which Christ plants seeds with faith, while Satan plants seeds with unbelief. God permits both types of people to grow up side by side in the church out of mercy for the unbelievers, that they might one day hear the Gospel and be turned from their unbelief to faith in Jesus. Jesus promises that He will return for a final harvest, at which time He will separate the saints for eternal life and the ungodly for eternal death.
If the saints always knew who the unbelievers in the church were they could easily ignore and/or rebuke them. However Jesus warns that if we judge by the wisdom of the world or by outward appearances, unbelievers, like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, may dupe the saints into following the ways of unbelief. Jesus said to the Pharisees: “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke l6:15)
The Apostle Paul was equally blunt: “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” (2 Cor 11:14-15)
Since the saints cannot read the hearts of men, the Lord has given the church His Word with which she may test every teacher and every teaching. That which conforms to the Word should be approved, but that which does not conform to the Word should be rejected.
In verses 4-6, David shows us the progression that unbelief may take and its ultimate futility.
“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.” (Ps 5:4)
To a certain extent, verse 4 applies to all people. All people are conceived in sin (Ps 51:5); and sin dwells in the flesh of every person (Rom 7:23). The only difference between the saints and the ungodly in any congregation is that the saints believe God’s Word, whereas the ungodly do not.
When God’s Law and His displeasure with wickedness are preached in the congregation, the ungodly separate themselves spiritually from the saints. The saints feel the accusations of the Law, but in faith confess their sins and trust in the mercy of God their Father, who forgives them their sins for the sake of Christ who paid for them in full. Whereas, the ungodly disbelieve God’s Word, so they either reject His justice whereby they judge themselves righteous, or they reject His grace whereby they reject His mercy.
The ungodly may fool the saints, but they never fool God. He takes no pleasure in them, and they do not dwell with Him, even though they and others may think they do.
“The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” (Ps 5:5)
Jesus said: “the diseased tree bears bad fruit” (Matt 7:17); and “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt 15:19).
The “boastful” and “evildoers” are those who the bear the fruit of their unbelief. The boastful use the gifts that God has given them to covet His glory. They will not stand before the Lord. As it is written: “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other” (Isa 42:8). Evildoers are those who under the name of God commit evil acts. God hates the evildoer.
“You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.” (Ps 5:6)
Jesus warns the saints: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt 7:15); and “Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues” (Matt 10:17); and “the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God” (John 16:2)
“Those who speak lies” are those who seat themselves as false prophets and teachers who pervert the Word of God. If they do not repent of their unbelief, God will destroy them. The bloodthirsty and deceitful men are those who under the name of God crucified Christ and who throughout time persecute or martyr the saints. God abhors (i.e., detests) them.
The ungodly may give a good show and appear outwardly as the wisest and godliest of all men, and for a short time may seat themselves as leaders and teachers in the church. Meanwhile, the saints may for a short time suffer the reproach or condemnation of the ungodly.
However, Jesus declared that He alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6); whereas “Satan is “a murder…a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). Christ has ransomed His saints from sin, death and the power of Satan by shedding His blood for us on the cross and three days later rising from the dead, declaring His victory over sin, death and Satan.
Therefore, Jesus has given the saints these promises: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18); and “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Let us pray for the Word of God, for the Church and for all faithful preachers and teachers, that, through this living and active Word, the Holy Spirit would open our ears to hear the Word, grant us hearts to believe in Jesus, strengthen us with hope to endure our personal trials, and fill us with love for our neighbors who likewise suffer many trials. Amen.
Thank you for reading. Next week we will pick up Psalm 5 at verse 7 in which David prays for the Word of God, that it would lead him in righteousness and make his path straight in the midst of his enemies. Amen.