Thursday, November 3, 2011

Psalm 5

Psalm 5
A psalm and prayer for guidance

"Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You will I pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up." (verses 1-3)

       David was a man who brought his troubles to God; many were his troubles and often were his prayers. Rarely was David not in need of God's deliverance, and we have the large collection of psalms in the Bible as evidence of this. 
      In Psalm five, David begins with a fervent plea in the early morning hours, a prayer that had begun before he ever even mouthed the first words. David knew that God had heard his countless inner contemplations and had been listening to his weeping for many days. Now as he comes before Him early, to seek Him in his distress, David calls to God's remembrance his previous words, meditations, and cries before he lays out his desperate request. This is a short prayer, based on the depth of understanding he knows the Lord already has of his situation. Many words are not needed. 
      Occasionally I find myself explaining the particulars of a situation to God, and telling Him what is happening, as if this were new and necessary information for Him to make a correct decision on my behalf!  David trusts in God's omniscience and comes before Him already assured that God is aware of all he is about to ask. 
     What confidence we can have before the Lord in prayer when we take this truth to heart! He knows us; He knows our weaknesses, our desires, and our exact situation; and He invites us to ask Him for whatever it is we need. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) 
      Oh, and look up! David raised his eyes in expectancy of God's answer to his prayer. "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." (Matthew 21:22)

"For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man." (verses 4-6)

      David recalls God's character of holiness and contrasts it with that of his own adversaries. God does not find wickedness pleasurable, but by implication, they do. No evil dwells with God, but they invite it into their very homes. Proud and arrogant, they gain the audience of men, but they will one day fall before the presence of a holy God. Both their works and their words condemn them.

"But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; in fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face." (verses 7-8)

      David now contrasts his own life with that of the "workers of iniquity." Notice that he does not boast in his righteousness, good works, or innocence; his contrast is not one of actions or even hidden motives. David is different from the condemned in one way only: he relies upon the mercy of the LORD. He brazenly enters the sanctuary of God, the holy tabernacle, and falls down before Him in worship. David casts himself at God's feet in humble confidence that God's imputed righteousness is his by simple faith alone. 
      David was a sinner, just like us all, and his only claim to goodness was in the goodness of God given freely to him by faith. This is the same "good news" that Jesus proclaimed in Himself. Righteousness is a gift offered by God to those who trust Him to make them righteous.
      David, now before the mercy seat of God, makes his petition. He needs guidance. He needs God's supernatural guidance. If he makes the wrong turn, he may die. One false move, and his life could be over. David has many enemies, and they all want his blood. David asks God to make the right way so clear to him that it is like a very obvious road directly in front of him. 
      While we may not face such dire consequences in the choices we make, David's prayer is deeply relevant to our lives as well. God wants to guide us. He has a plan, a highly specialized plan, for each of our lives. He made you just the way you are, strengths and weakness both, for a specific purpose that He designed just for you. 
      As you rely on Him to guide you each day, He will lead you into all that He has for you. "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11) Ephesians 2:10 also says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." 
      May He make His way straight before your face and lead you into all the good things He has planned for you!

"For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is destruction; their throat is an open tomb; they flatter with their tongue. Pronounce them guilty, O God! Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You." (verses 9-10)

      David's thoughts seemingly return to his troubles at this point. He is relying upon the LORD's mercy, laying his burden before Him, and expecting God to answer him. Yet, his thoughts again stray to his enemies. He recalls their lies and flattery, and rages inside himself. "Oh God, condemn them!" he cries. 
      Its so easy to fall into the trap of replaying a situation over and over in your head, or dwelling on just exactly how you were hurt by someone in the past. The true enemy of our souls would seek to ensnare us with bitterness and unforgiveness towards those who have wronged us. I once heard said that bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping the other guy dies. When you have been hurt, give that hurt to Jesus and come before Him in the multitude of His mercy. 
      You yourself have been forgiven much, and only in humility before God is forgiveness of others possible. While we yet feel we are owed an apology, or maybe even vengeance, we are in a state of pride that prevents us from truly forgiving, and leaves us vulnerable to the deadly grip of bitterness. 
      When we, conversely, grasp how much we don't deserve anything but death ourselves, and grasp the magnitude of God's grace in granting us forgiveness, the ability to release the debt of another towards us becomes not only possible, but delightful. Oh the freedom of forgiveness!  
      David asks God to show no mercy to his enemies in their rebellion against God, but Jesus taught us to love our enemies, and to pray for those who spitefully use us. Leave vengeance in God's hands and come to Him in the multitude of His mercy, for we, too, were once enemies of God... saved by God's undeserved grace. 
      "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless, and above reproach in His sight." (Colossians 1:21,22)

"But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love your name be joyful in You. For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield." (verses 11-12)

       David does not continue to dwell on his enemies, however, and turns his mind towards the LORD once again. Rather than rage, he rejoices.  God is his trust, and God will deliver him this time as well. 
      The words rejoice, joy, joyful fill these verses with a sense of expectancy and hope. God is going to take him through even this; David will live to praise the LORD yet another day. He has placed all his eggs in one basket, so to speak, in trusting God, and is banking upon God's promises to deliver those who thus place their trust in Him. 
      It says in II Chronicles 16:9 that the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth searching for one heart that is loyal to Him, that He can show Himself strong on behalf of. He found that heart in David, whose life was lived in complete dependence upon His grace. He is still seeking today for all who would make the LORD their trust, that He might defend them and bless them.
         The word 'blessed' means "happy", and thus again we find an emphasis on joy in the conclusion of this psalm and prayer. David does not need to defend himself before his adversaries; God will defend him. That is indeed cause for rejoicing! God shows His favour to those who trust in His mercy with the blessings of joy and protection. Our enemies may speak boastfully and deceitfully against us (vs.5,9), but we need not answer them in self defense. God will be our defense. 
      Speaking of Jesus in Acts 8:32 it says,  "As a lamb before it's shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth." In the face of accusation or slander, it is natural to defend our character and actions, but in light this passage, and so many others in the Word of God, we would do better to say nothing. Let God be your defense. Let His blessings of joy and protection prove his favour towards you, and rest in His grace, His undeserved favour. 
      Our righteousness is completely tied up in His righteousness, thus when ours is unjustly slandered, it is but for Him to set the record straight... not me. As for me, I will come into Your house, O LORD, in the multitude of Your mercy and worship. Thank You, Jesus!

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