Psalm 5

Notes (NET Translation)

For the music director, to be accompanied by wind instruments; a psalm of David.

The meaning of the Hebrew term nechiylah (“wind instruments”) is uncertain.

1 Listen to what I say, Lord! Carefully consider my complaint!

The Hebrew word (hagiyg) translated “complaint” by the NET may be better translated as “sighing”, “murmuring”, “muttering” or “groaning”.

2 Pay attention to my cry for help, my king and my God, for I am praying to you!

The Lord of all can still be addressed with personal terms: my king and my God.

3 Lord, in the morning you will hear me; in the morning I will present my case to you and then wait expectantly for an answer.

The Hebrew term (`arak) translated “I will present” has no object. The implied object could be a sacrifice, a case, a request, or a prayer.

4 Certainly you are not a God who approves of evil; evil people cannot dwell with you.

5 Arrogant people cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who behave wickedly.

6 You destroy liars; the Lord despises violent and deceitful people.

7 But as for me, because of your great faithfulness I will enter your house; I will bow down toward your holy temple as I worship you.

The psalmist can enter the house of the Lord because of God’s grace and covenant love (“faithfulness”), not by virtue of his own goodness. If the “temple” is a reference to the Jerusalem Temple then this psalm could not have been written by David (see the commentary on the title of Psalm 3 for the ambiguity of the psalm titles). However, the Hebrew term heykal is ambiguous enough to apply to the Tabernacle or the heavenly temple.

Whatever the initial sense of these verses, there is a deeper thrust contained within them. The earthly temple of God was merely a symbol of God’s heavenly dwelling and presence; the worshiper sought ultimately to enter not simply a building, but a living presence. And the psalm gives expression for that desire of the worshiper to enter the living presence of God, not for a temporary act of worship, but as a perpetual estate; the one perpetually in God’s presence would experience God’s guidance and the straight path throughout all the experience of living. (Craigie 2004, p. 87)

8 Lord, lead me in your righteousness because of those who wait to ambush me, remove the obstacles in the way in which you are guiding me!

9 For they do not speak the truth; their stomachs are like the place of destruction, their throats like an open grave, their tongues like a steep slope leading into it.

10 Condemn them, O God! May their own schemes be their downfall! Drive them away because of their many acts of insurrection, for they have rebelled against you.

The call for God to condemn the enemies is a call for God to both declare the enemies guilty and to judge them with the appropriate sentence (VanGemeren 2008, p. 118). Ultimately, the enemies are rebelling against God.

11 But may all who take shelter in you be happy! May they continually shout for joy! Shelter them so that those who are loyal to you may rejoice!

12 Certainly you reward the godly, Lord. Like a shield you protect them in your good favor.

[T]he last word in the Hebrew, thou dost cover him (‘compass him’, AV, RV), is one whose only other occurrence is in 1 Samuel 23:26, where it describes a hostile force ‘closing in’ on David, only to find itself quietly deflected by God’s encircling, providential care of him. (Kidner 2008, p. 77)


Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.


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