Psalm 5: The Morning Prayer For Protection
The Psalms are full of narrator, of story, of pros, of lyric, of what we would call a Hebrew rhyme in that they are structural, not necessarily a rhyme, like we would sing a song. Many of the songs Marty sang are metered, they’re cadenced,they rhyme, they have structural repetitions. Hymns of course, are full of these types of devices. Why? Because when you sing a song that rhymes or has a lilt to it or a cadence, you what? You remember it. You can hear a song on the radio if you can understand the lyrics and in a very short while, you will have most of it committed to memory.
The Hebrews of course, learned the same way we do. Most of your Psalms are broken into structures: two, three, five parts, all types of structural devices. I’ll show you just a few of them, but I hope to get you started. These texts were the Hebrew hymnbook. We’ll talk tomorrow a little bit more about some of the labeling of your Psalter, but I want to jump right into Psalm chapter 5. You follow, I’ll read. I’ll be using the New American Standard this weekend. It is in the handbook, if you don’t have that right copy of the Word of God.
The Cry For Help
That may be what some of these superscriptions mean because the Hebrew did not depend upon memorization by rhyme. They depended upon structure and it was the parallels, the repetitions, and what we’ll talk about later: chiasms, which are devices that bring a point, all sorts of clever super intended pieces of poetry that helped the Hebrew mind learn. My estimation is the pias Jew had most of the Psalter committed to memory, not because they were just brilliant, but they had no television, no internet, no Presidential debates, nothing to distract them and the pias Jew would sing. It is not unrealistic to think that many of these were not the top forty, but the top one hundred and fifty tunes, and some of them may have been similar the way our hymnals are penned.
When we started with the Psalter, we need to remember that all the emotion of David or Asaph or whoever wrote them, the emotion is on the sleeve. Some of these are individual lament, some of them are corporate meant for public worship, some are complicated to identify how they fit and what they mean.
This particular Psalm is going to talk about a number of themes. It’s going to talk about on the one hand the prayer that God should hear and listen to our cries, that evil people don’t harm us or come in and hurt us, and of course we live in a culture where we’re fearful of people and we live in fear as a people. The Psalmist is going to talk about his desire to worship and he longs to worship. He’s going to pray for the wicked to be destroyed and he’s going to pray for protection.
Psalm 5:1-3 Hear Me
Let’s look at the cry for help in verses 1-3, Hear me. Technically, this prayer is God be just; technically, the author is saying, You’re God, you’re sovereign. Why aren’t you acting in a just way? Implication: there are injustices going on. If you look at verse 3, you’ll see twice the phrase, In the morning. We call this a morning Psalm. I think it’s more than just, he’s going to be disciplined and devoted each morning to get up and pray. I think he’s waking up with a preoccupation on his mind. He can’t not think about it. He awakes and it hurasses him from the moment he opens from his slumber. This is consuming him.
Look at verse 1: Give ear. There’s two strophe in verse 1. Give ear to my words, O Lord. The second strophe: Consider my groaning. Give ear is parallel to the word, what? Consider. He’s saying, “Give ear to me.” It’s almost the same thing. Consider. So the word, words are parallel to the term groaning. The parallel continues: Give ear, consider and heed are all parallel thought.
The word groaning, my cry, and my words are all parallel thoughts. So where we would expect a rhyme, Blessed assurance Jesus is mine, oh what a fortune, all the words that we’d remember, the structure and the repetitions and the parallels are how the Hebrews would remember things. The cries underscored with a list of imperatives. These are terms that stick out in our verbal vocabulary. Hear the words: Groaning is a very interesting word. It is an inarticulate expression. The word has a hint of the word “burn.” Lord, I’m groaning to you; I’m consumed with this thing and he’s addressing Him with these parallels.
My Lord, My King, My God
Notice verses 1 and 3, He says, “Oh, Lord, and my king and my God. Now the word King in Hebrew is malec, Melchizedek, which we’ll see in another Psalm, and Elohim is the second word. For the Psalmist to say “my” in a first person pronoun is more than possession. This is a very unusual phrase. In fact, as the Old Testament develops to the careful student, you don’t talk about Yahweh as “my God.” You say the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. David is not being familiar or casual. He’s being intimate. He’s my King. This is my God. Over against the cultures gods, and idolatrous natures, and propensity for multiple gods unlike those, He’s my King and my God. Whenever you read the word King, remember it is the King of Israel, David, writing this Psalm is saying, (the king is saying,) “My King.”
If this is used in a corporate worship setting, the king valiantly is putting the attention on, not himself as king, but on my King. He’s leading Israel to remember: I’m just a chosen servant of Yahweh. He’s my King and my God. It’s one thing to be intimate and personal in our approach, but I fear we’ve become too casual.
The Reverent Approach to Christ
There needs to be a holy approach to Christ. There needs to be a worshipful response, even though He’s my King and my God because I trusted Christ and Christ alone. I’ve put my faith in Christ to do for me what I cannot do for myself. There’s nothing I can bring to my salvation. I’ve trusted by faith; I’ve believed in Him and it’s His work on calvary who forgives me of my sin, that gives me a relationship with Him. I don’t deserve it, I don’t earn it, but I can live to say thank you to Him, but He’s not my pal; He’s my Saviour; He’s my God.
I think we need to recast a humility toward the King of Israel. When you and I pray to Father, through the Spirit, through Jesus Christ, we are speaking to the very King of the universe. I suspect based on what I know of Scripture, if we were to see Him, it would pretty well undo us. We wouldn’t give Him a high five and slap Him on the back. I don’t think we’d run and get a cup of coffee with Him. In fact, it’s very contrary in the Scripture, when we see Him.
Well this cry for help is a picture of a cadence, Hear my cry. Hear my prayer. Hear my groanings, consider my words. He’s asking God to listen to him and then this powerful, intimate, but reverential, my King and my God. He’s asking God for His attention.
Rest is Key For a Spiritual Life
No matter how anxious, or busy we become, how important we feel by accomplishing a lot, there’ll be more work tomorrow. Learning to rest, which is a big part of the Psalter; learning to rest is key for the spiritual life. Morning by morning when you wake up, what’s the first thing you do? My hope, my prayer, my plea, for you is that you get your nose in the Book. That you’re able to take a deep breath, to rest, and to read His Word. I often say, we all need two things every morning. We need oxygen and caffeine. By oxygen, I don’t mean what we’re breathing, I mean the Word of God, because it is the oxygen of our life.
Apart from an intimate relationship with God, He would be that impersonal being, that far away construct, somehow out of reach God, whose holy and I don’t know how to approach Him. Well if you have a Bible, and you have a quiet place, there’s nothing keeping you from approaching Him. So I want to encourage you, perhaps today, perhaps in this broadcast, when you listen to this when it’s over, that you sit down and read Psalm 5 a couple of times.
Look for some parallel structures; rest in what He is doing in His Word; know that He’s God; know that He loves you; know that even though He may feel out of reach, or out of touch, He is a very present God. He cares about you intimately; He loves you completely; He’s not mad at you and He wants you to linger in His Word; He wants you to spend time with Him.