Starting the Day on the Right Path: Psalm 5

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Psalm 5 (NIV)

Listen to my words, Lord,
    consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help,
    my King and my God,
    for to you I pray.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
    with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand
    in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
    let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

If Psalm 4 (last week’s daily text) sets forth the basic framework for evening prayer, Psalm 5 is the pattern for morning prayer: “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (v. 3). Morning prayer is essential for setting ourselves on the path of the way of righteousness. As the day begins, we draw the line and put ourselves on the right side of righteousness. Before the day begins to unfold and we have even the first opportunity to squander our time, engage in evil thoughts and conversations, do any evil deed, or, in general, lose our moral courage to stand in the way of righteousness, this morning prayer sets us on the right path. We remind ourselves at the outset that God takes no “pleasure in evil” (v. 4). He does not dwell with the wicked, and in the end, the “arrogant cannot stand in [his] presence” (v. 5).

Today, Christians are inundated with a domesticated, overly sentimentalized view of God. This psalm shakes us awake and calls us to realign our thinking about God according to Scripture, not popular sentiments and cultural trends that can easily crowd out a biblical perspective on life. One of the biggest surprises comes in verse 5, where the psalmist declares that God hates “all who do wrong.” It is important to remember that when the Bible refers to love and hate, it does not correspond particularly well with the ways those two words are used today. For example, the word hate does not refer to any kind of angry emotion God has toward someone, as might be reflected in the phrase, “I hate you.” Rather, when the Bible says God “hates” something, it means that he stands covenantally opposed to it. He stands with a drawn sword in the way of sin; he does not go along with it. To “hate” all those who do wrong is to “stand against” all those who oppose God’s righteous reign and rule in the world.

We need this daily reminder that God will someday return to judge the world and establish his reign. Indeed, Psalm 5 is one of the key passages that Paul quotes in Romans 3 to establish the captivating sinfulness of the world: “Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit” (v. 9; see Rom. 3:13). The only hope we have of escaping God’s righteous judgment is to “take refuge” in the Lord (v. 11). The “shield” (v. 12), which the psalmist promises will protect the people of God, is in fact brought back to us in the book of Ephesians. Paul tells us to “take up the shield of faith,” which is to cast ourselves upon the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. This, in turn, enables us to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). It is through Christ that we are finally established as the people of righteousness.

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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