Theme: A Life of Prayer
In this week’s studies David prays that the Lord would show his justice against all who do evil, even as he asks that the Lord’s blessing would rest upon the righteous.
Scripture: Psalm 5:1-12
I have called this psalm “A Prayer for Coming to God’s House” because of verse 7: “But I, by your great mercy will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple.” But we must not think of it as restricted to a formal worship setting. It is actually a generic prayer showing how we must approach God, if we would be heard by him, and what we can expect of him when we do.
The outline is helpful in showing how we should approach the psalm. It consists of five strophes or stanzas. In three of these (the first, third and fifth) the psalmist is standing face-to-face before God with only God in view. In the two alternating stanzas (the second and fourth) he glances sideways at the wicked, as it were, and develops contrasts between God and the wicked (in stanza two) and the righteous and the wicked (in stanza four). It is these interlocking contrasts that give movement and power to the psalm. Here is how Peter C. Craigie describes it: “Psalm 5 illustrates with clarity the polarity and tension which characterize certain dimensions of the life of prayer. On the one side, there is God: on the other, evil human beings. And the thought of the psalmist alternates between these two poles. He begins by asking God to hear him, but recalls that evil persons have no place in God’s presence. He turns back to God again, expressing his desire to worship and his need of guidance, but then is reminded of the human evils of the tongue. Eventually, he concludes in confidence, praying for protection and blessing.” He adds that “the prayer is not only for protection from wicked persons, but also a prayer for protection from becoming like them.”1
Psalm 5 is another morning psalm, like Psalm 3. Since Psalm 6 is another evening psalm, (observed from v. 6), along with Psalm 4, we therefore have prayers for morning and evening, morning and evening in Psalms 3-6. It is a way of saying that our entire day, from the rising to the setting of the sun, should be prayerful. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night. Devotion should be both the morning… and the evening star.”2
Review the outline of the psalm. How does the existence of evil, and the people who carry it out, influence how we pray and what we pray for?
What is the significance of the morning/evening, morning/evening pattern of Psalms 3-6?
Application: Reread the quote by Charles Spurgeon. What would prayer look like when it serves as the “key of the day” and the “lock of the night”?
1Peter C. Craigie, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 19, Psalms 1-50 (Waco, TX: Word, 1983), p. 89.
2C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. la, Psalms 1-26 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 46.