Theme: God Does Not Listen to the Wicked
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
The second stanza (verses 4-6) is a reflection on the wicked, growing out of the psalmist’s approach to God in verses 1-3. Each of the preceding psalms has spoken of the wicked, though differently in each psalm. Psalm 1 considered “the way of the wicked” as opposed to “the way of the righteous” (v. 6). Psalm 2 traced the rebellion of the wicked against God, particularly that of the kings and rulers of the earth (v. 2). In Psalm 3 the psalmist has been attacked by the wicked and asks God for protection from them (v. 7). In Psalm 4 the wicked have slandered the psalmist, and he is asking God for vindication. In the psalm we are studying now, David refers to the wicked as those whose prayers the Lord will not hear and in whom he has no pleasure.
David is distinguishing himself from evil persons, reminding himself that he must be different if he would be heard by God. Later another psalmist will say, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” But since he has not done this the later psalmist adds, “God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer” (Ps. 66:18, 19).
We take sin too lightly. If we did not, we would not sin as grievously or as frequently as we do. Someone told me recently of a lapel button that reads: “How much sin can you get away with and still go to heaven?” Imagine a thought like that! The answer to the question is that you cannot get away with any sin. You must be holy, and the secret to being holy is to see sin as God himself sees it and draw close to him.
This is what David himself does as he prays this second stanza. He does it in two ways. First, he reviews the types of evil doers, moving from terms that are general to those that are stronger and more descriptive: “the wicked” (v. 4), “the arrogant” (v. 5), “all who do wrong” (v. 5), “those who tell lies” (v. 6), “bloodthirsty and deceitful men” (v. 6). We sense that he is growing in his awareness of how sinful sin is in these verses. Second, he reminds himself of how God views sin, and again the words grow in intensity. The first expression is a negative, pointing out that “God does not take pleasure in evil” (v. 4). But this moves to the stronger expression: “you hate all who do wrong” (v. 5) and to the even stronger words: “you destroy all who tell lies” and “bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors” (v. 6).
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.
We need this sensitivity. H. C. Leupold was thinking along these lines when he wrote, “Prayers of this kind may have more value than our age is inclined to admit” because, he explains, “they are surely born out of a deep sense of the sinfulness of sin and out of the conviction that the only one who can stem the tide of sin is the Almighty.”5
Review how the wicked have been described in the first four psalms. How do you see this being done today?
What is an important measure to indicate if one is drawing closer to the Lord?
Application: How does a biblical view of sin shape your prayer life?
Key Point: You must be holy, and the secret to being holy is to see sin as God himself sees it and draw close to him.
5H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 75.