The notes this week have been provided by Tudor and today we are looking at Psalm 5.
Once again, David reminds us that we can live our lives in one of two ways, the life of the righteous or the life of the wicked. As we were reminded at the end of last week’s readings, the message bears a strong resemblance to the picture of the wide and narrow gates. As Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14:
‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’
In many ways, this psalm expands upon the teaching, distinguishing between the wicked and righteous, and asking how we can enter into God’s house, into his presence.
Picking up on the seriousness of the matter David pleas with God to ‘Give ear’, ‘consider my sighing’, and ‘listen to my cry for help’ (v1,2). He speaks of laying his requests before God and waiting in expectation (v3). And David could wait in expectation because he knew that God would hear him. As Paul writes,
‘continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.’ (Php 2:12-13).
We also are asked to recognise the seriousness of the subject and call out to God, trusting that He will also act.
As the psalm continues it sheds light on the seriousness of sin, ultimately showing that God can’t have anything to do with sin. God is so holy and righteous beyond our human standards that while we find pleasure in sin, God takes no pleasure in it. In fact, the wicked cannot dwell with Him. Yet David words are yet stronger as ‘The arrogant cannot stand in your presence, you hate all who do wrong.’ (v5). The language sounds extreme, but it perhaps shows how lightly we treat sin and how separate God is from it, how much He hates it. As John writes,
‘God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.’ (1 Jn 1:5-6).
The psalm actually challenges the distinction between the wicked and righteous as we see that we do not match the standards of the righteous. After all, verse 6 tells us that God will destroy those who tell lies, and verse 9 tells us that their hearts are filled with destruction. The psalm supports the words of Romans, that we are in fact enemies of God and rotten to the core.
However, David was able to enter God’s house and come into His presence because of God’s ‘great mercy’ (v7). David came in humility to God and asked God to lead him ‘in your righteousness’, to ‘make straight your way before me.’ (v8). The psalm reminds me of the shamefulness and evil of my own sin, but also reminds me that the only way it can be dealt with and I can go on to live a righteous life is by His mercy and in His righteousness, allowing Him to lead me. As David took refuge in God he could be glad, rejoice and find protection and favour in God.
‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.
Let the water and the blood from your wounded side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from its guilt and power.’
From ‘Rock of Ages’, by A. M. Toplady, rev. and adp. By Graham Kendrick (2001)