Christ in Psalms – 5
David’s requests are mentioned in verses 1-3, 8, 10 and 11.
Verses 1-3 are merely repetition of what David is about to do and say. But, there is very important wording here. He is asking and pleading for God to listen to him. This is many times missing in the prayers that we make to our Father. While Jesus says that God listens to His children, He also communicates that we need to go to Him with dependency. The mere fact that David is pleading to God for Him to answer reveals that he is not arrogant in his attitude. He can, in other psalms, boldy say, “Save me, O my God!” and “Arise, O LORD,” but he always asks that on the basis of God’s character – not ultimately on the basis of his own character. David asks humbly and then expectantly looks up to God for an answer.
Verse 8 is a personal request. David says, “Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies.” This is a two-fold request which is summed up nicely at the end of verse 8: “Make Your way straight before my face” (see also Prov. 3:5-6). What this means is that God will bring us to our expected end. David expounds on that here by saying that we will only get to our expected end if the LORD – Yahweh, the covenant-keeping Creator – leads us every step of the way. David is asking that God’s righteousness would be worked through his actions because of David’s enemies. David seems to be asking that the Lord would lead him and work His righteousness through him so that God’s enemies would see that God’s path is right and just and best. In other words, David wants God’s enemies to be put to shame in their sin and to see God’s Truth.
In verse 10, David asks that God would pronounce the wicked guilty, and he asks that a just punishment is given to them. David wants their own sin to be their ruin and he prays that God would cast them away from His people. This theology is also seen in the New Testament in Romans 1.
All this said, David’s requests do not end on punishment. Instead he focuses on God’s design for human beings. Verse 11 gives us David’s final request: let all who trust in Yahweh, rejoice. David emphasizes the word joy three times. When authors in the Old Testament times wanted to reiterate a fact, they would say something three times. They didn’t have punctuation. They didn’t have exclamation points. They could not put a question-mark and an exclamation. Instead, they would say something like, “Rejoice, shout for joy, be joyful!” God desires that we be full of joy. If those who trust in God understand the severity of God’s punishment (which all of us deserve) then we ought to be people who are full of joy.
The next question one may ask is, “What does God’s punishment look like?” That’s another theme David addresses: the consequences of the wicked (vv. 4-6, 9-10). In order to understand the riches of God’s grace, we need to understand the horrors that our sins deserve. David cries out against the wicked because they have turned against the Lord. Since David is confident that God is righteous, he knows that the Lord will act righteously towards those who do not trust in Him. A few points we see in verses 4-6 (which are similar to 9-11) are that 1) God takes no pleasure in wickedness, 2) Evil will not dwell with God, and 3) The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. This does not negate the chance they could repent and receive God’s eternal love. This does not mean that God is not showing mercy to them even today in allowing them to experience many of His blessings. But, the Bible does say that God’s wrath abides on such a one who has not turned to God through Christ. In some mysterious way, God can hate and also display love towards unbelievers for a time.
The promise is that because the people are living this way, they will never dwell with God because evil will not dwell with God. Some argue that God cannot be loving and send people to Hell; however, in the Scriptures, we see a portrait of people in Hell who continue to deny Him. Hence, we can more fully understand a phrase like, “Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions.” Throughout all eternity, if you do not trust in the LORD, your sin will be yours. It will cling to you and you will waste away in that sin for eternity – always being tormented, never finding relief because you cling to your sin.
This is justice. And, as we see clearly in the Scriptures, this is what we all deserve because we are sinners, all our words are like a grave (see Rom. 3 where part of this Psalm is quoted). Our most inward part of our being is destruction because we are sinners – hence Hell is our destination if we have not turned to Yahweh.
Is there any hope? Yes, definitely! The final piece of this Psalm that we need to see is the blessing of the righteous. Again, since God is righteous in His very being, He will act righteously towards the wicked and also towards the righteous. But, there is none righteous, no, not one! Thankfully, as we saw in our study of Psalm 1, only Jesus could be considered righteous, and it is on the basis of His righteousness that we, too, can be declared righteous. All blessings are given to Jesus, and we receive them by trusting in Him – the LORD. As a result, we experience an infinite number of blessings from the eternal God. “For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.”
What are a few of the blessings this psalm tells us that we receive through the Messiah? First, God hears the prayers of the righteous. Even if we cannot come up with the words and we can only groan, God will answer us (note: “meditation” means “to groan”). Second, unlike the wicked, the righteous enter into God’s house. Third, those who trust in God have His steadfast, forever faithful, love. In spite of our disobedience, God showers down a love that never wavers. Fourth, believers can truly worship God because of His forgiveness. David realizes that he deserves to be punished, yet he says, “But as for me. . . .”
Ultimately, it is God’s character and actions that matter – not ours. We need Him. David makes this more clear even in the names he uses to reference God: 1) O LORD, 2) My King, 3) My God.
He recognizes God is the covenant-keeping God of steadfast love towards His children. He recognizes that He can’t solve all of life issues and can’t bring about true righteousness – only the King can do that as He reigns from His throne on high at the present time. He realizes that this God is not just a God off in the distance but He is his God. One commentator pointed out that in Hebrew, to call God, “my God” was the greek equivalent to saying, “Abba” (Longman, Tremper & David Garland, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, p. 115). It is no wonder that Jesus prays that way and we even find Paul calling God “Abba.”
So, what do we see of Jesus in this psalm? Obviously, there could be a myriad of pictures of Jesus here. I will touch on a few. First, we see David, the anointed one, praying on behalf of those who trust in God. In John 17, we see Jesus, the Anointed One, praying on behalf of all who will trust in Him. Second, we see that the LORD also refers to Jesus. Salvation belongs to Him. Through Jesus, we are saved. He is the way, the truth and the life. Third, we see that Jesus is also the King. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah talks of God in the temple on the throne with the train of His robe filling the temple. Then in John 12:41, the Scriptures say that Isaiah’s revelation was of Jesus’ glory. Jesus is King. In this King, we can bring all of our cares – knowing that He will take care of us. Fourth, we receive blessings through Jesus. The last two lines can also be translated, “You will crown them with favor as with a shield.” One commentator said, “From one hand the Lord extends his protection and favor, likened to a ‘shield’. . .; from the other hand he bestows his royal glory on the godly. . .” (Longman, Tremper & David E. Garland, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 119).
It is very true what the psalmist says. Those who trust in the Lord are immeasurably blessed and have eternal blessing in store for them.
Rejoice, all those who trust in Him!