The Treasury of David

Psalm 5

Singing psalms

Title. “To the Chief Musician upon Nehiloth, a Psalm of David.” The Hebrew word Nehiloth is taken from another word, signifying “to perforate;” “to bore through,” whence it comes to mean a pipe or a flute; so that this song was probably intended to be sung with an accompaniment of wind instruments, such as the horn, the trumpet, flute, or cornet. However, it is proper to remark that we are not sure of the interpretation of these ancient titles, for the Septuagint translates it, “For him who shall obtain inheritance,” and Aben Ezra thinks it denotes some old and well known melody to which this Psalm was to be played. The best scholars confess that great darkness hangs over the precise interpretation of the title; nor is this much to be regretted, for it furnishes an internal evidence of the great antiquity of the Book. Throughout the first, second, third, and forth Psalms, you will have noticed that the subject is a contrast between the position, the character, and the prospects of the righteous and of the wicked. In this Psalm you will note the same. The Psalmist carries out a contrast between himself made righteous by God’s grace, and the wicked who opposed him. To the devout mind there is here presented a precious view of the Lord Jesus, of whom it is said that in the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears.

Division. The Psalm should be divided into two parts, from the first to the seventh verse, and then from the eighth to the twelfth. In the first part of the Psalm David most vehemently beseeches the Lord to hearken to his prayer, and in the second part he retraces the same ground.
The Treasury of David.

Psalm 5:2

Exposition

The voice of my cry. In another Psalm we find the expression, “The voice of my weeping.” Weeping has a voice—a melting, plaintive tone, an ear-piercing shrillness, which reaches the very heart of God; and crying hath a voice—a soul-moving eloquence; coming from our heart it reaches God’s heart. Ah! my brothers and sisters, sometimes we cannot put our prayers into words: they are nothing but a cry: but the Lord can comprehend the meaning, for he hears a voice in our cry. To a loving father his children’s cries are music, and they have a magic influence which his heart cannot resist.

My King, and my God. Observe carefully these little pronouns, “my King, and my God.” They are the pith and marrow of the plea. Here is a grand argument why God should answer prayer—because he is our King and our God. We are not aliens to him: he is the King of our country. Kings are expected to hear the appeals of their own people. We are not strangers to him; we are his worshippers, and he is our God: ours by covenant, by promise, by oath, by blood.

For unto thee will I pray. Here David expresses his declaration that he will seek to God, and to God alone. God is to be the only object of worship: the only resource of our soul in times of need. Leave broken cisterns to the godless, and let the godly drink from the Divine fountain alone. “Unto thee will I pray.” He makes a resolution, that as long as he lived he would pray. He would never cease to supplicate, even though the answer should not come.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

Ver. 1-2. Observe the order and force of the words, my cry, the voice of my prayer; and also, give ear, consider, hearken. These expressions all evidence the urgency and energy of David’s feelings and petitions. First we have, “give ear;” that is, hear me. But it is of little service for the words to be heard, unless the “cry,” or the roaring, or the meditation, be considered. As if he had said, in a common way of expression, I speak with deep anxiety and concern, but with a failing utterance; and I cannot express myself, nor make myself understood as I wish. Do thou, therefore, understand from my feelings more than I am able to express in words. And, therefore, I add my “cry;” that what I cannot express in words for thee to hear, I may by my “cry” signify to thine understanding. And when thou hast understood me, then, O Lord, Hearken unto the voice of my prayer, and despise not what thou hast thus heard and understood. We are not, however, to understand that hearing, understanding, and hearkening, are all different acts in God, in the same way as they are in us; but that our feelings towards God are to be thus varied and increased; that is, that we are first to desire to be heard, and then, that our prayers which are heard may be understood; and then, that being understood, they may be hearkened unto, that is, not disregarded.—Martin Luther.

Hints to the Village Preacher

Ver. 1-2. Prayer in its threefold form. Words, meditation, cry. Showing how utterance is of no avail without heart, but that fervent longings and silent desires are accepted, even when unexpressed.
The Treasury of David.

Ver. 1-2. Prayer in its threefold form. Words, meditation, cry. Showing how utterance is of no avail without heart, but that fervent longings and silent desires are accepted, even when unexpressed.
The Treasury of David.

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