Psalm 5:1

This psalm seems to have been written for, or handed to the leader of a special choir, that he might adapt music for its use in sanctuary worship; not necessarily that of the temple - for its composition was probably anterior to the erection of that building - but for use in the services of that temporary structure which preceded it, and which, though but temporary, and even fragile in a material sense, was nevertheless in a high and holy sense the dwelling-place of God, yea, "the palace of the great King." Note: No material splendours of gold, silver, and precious stones can make a temple without the Real Presence; but however humble the structure, the Real Presence therein will make it a temple of God. Whether David was actually the penman of this psalm or no, matters not. It is evidently the composition of a true saint of God, and reflects in its several verses the spirit of the time and circumstances under which it was written. And not only so. But it shows us that the saints of olden time were wont to regard the house of God as a house of prayer, and to let their prayers be an unburdening of the heart to God on every matter of immediate and pressing concern. Note: In our prayers in God's house we have no need to include everything in one service. Nor are we bound to use the words of another's prayers, except as far as they suit our case at the line. Still less need we rack and tear such a psalm as this to find in it the whole gospel. That would not only be a strange anachronism, but we should even lose very much by missing the historic setting and aim of the psalm. Who cannot find comfort in the obvious fact that the Old Testament saints, in their prayers, used to tell God everything, just as it seemed to them, and as they felt about it? There is no greater boon in life than to have a friend who will never misunderstand us, and to whom we can tell anything, knowing that he will hide all our folly in his loving forgetfulness, and sympathize with all our cares. Such perfection of friendship is found in God alone. And we have in this psalm a beautiful illustration of the use which the psalmist made thereof.

I. THE PSALMIST LAYS THE ENTIRE SITUATION BEFORE GOD. (Vers. 8, 9, "mine enemies," equivalent to" those that lie in wait for me.") The whole of the ninth verse shows the treachery and hollowness that mark the hostile bands, and the consequent peril in which the people of God were on that account. (This verse is one of those quoted by the Apostle Paul in proof of human depravity. Nor is there any contrariety to reason in his so doing. For while the psalm speaks of all this wickedness in its relation to society, St. Paul speaks of similar wickedness in its relation to the Law of God and to the God of law. And it is because the psalmist knows how foreign to the nature of God all this iniquity is, that he brings it before God in prayer, and asks him to put it to shame.) Note: Let us learn to pray minutely, and not to lose ourselves in generalities.

II. IN DOING THIS HE RECOGNIZES AN ENDEARING RELATION. (Ver. 2.) "My King," "my God." God was not a far-distant Being, only remotely related. The name "Jehovah" brought him near as Israel's redeeming God; and that very name, which removes us infinitely from anthropomorphism, was the one in which the saints of old found their joy and glory. They could call God flair God. Under the New Testament our thoughts of God may be more sweet and endearing still.

III. HE OBSERVES A DEVOUT AND WISE METHOD IN HIS PRAYER. "In the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. The meaning is - I will order it accurately, and then look out to see whether it has sped, and when the answer will come. (Many of the old divines are very felicitous in their treatment of these two words.) Sometimes, indeed, the yearning Godward is too deep for outward expression (see ver. 1, "consider my meditation," i.e. understand my murmuring). "Lord, read the desires of my heart by thine all-piercing eye - and interpret my petitions in thine own loving-kindness before they rise to my lips." Happy they who know that they have a God with whom they can thus plead, and who have learned the blessed art of thus pleading with God!

IV. HE SETS HIS APPLICATION ON SUBSTANTIAL GROUNDS. (Vers. 4-6.) The psalmist knows the character of God, and the righteousness of his administration; and in these verses he shows us how real was the revelation on these great themes which God had given in his Law (see Psalm 103:6, 7). All these glorious disclosures of the holiness of God are reiterated and confirmed in the teaching and redemption of the Son of God. (For the specific phrases, see the Exposition; also Perowne and Cheyne.) It is because we know what God is, and the principles of his government, that we can under all circumstances commend ourselves, the Church, and the world to him.


1. For himself. (Ver. 8.) Beautiful! He wants

(1) to go along God's way, not his own;

(2) to be shown clearly what that way is; and then

(3) to be led along that way.

He who thus puts himself into God's hand, wanting only to be led aright, shall never be put to shame.

2. For the people of God. (Ver. 11.) He prays that in the midst of the whirl and tumult which surround them, the righteous may ever ring out a peal of joy because of God's protecting care and love.

3. For evil ones. (Ver. 10.) He prays that they may be

(1) held guilty and condemned for their transgressions. Yea

(2) rejected by God, even as they had themselves rejected God.

We are not bound to imitate the psalmist in such petitions. Jesus Christ tells us that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than the greatest of Old Testament prophets. They could not rise above the level of their inspiration, nor advance in prayer beyond the point their understanding had reached in those days. For us it would be far more appropriate to pray for the conversion of God's enemies by the power of his love and grace.

VI. THERE IS HERE A CONFIDENT ASSURANCE EXPRESSED. (Ver. 12, "Thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous... as with a shield.") The word means, not a small shield which may be held out to ward off a dart, but a large buckler which can cover one around as with armour. So effective are the Divine protection and care with which he guards his own. May such protection ever be ours!

VII. IT IS WORTHY OF NOTE AT WHAT HOUR OF THE DAY THIS PRAYER IS OFFERED. We are twice told in the third verse, "in the morning." The early morn, when the frame is freshest and the spirit freest, is the best time for devotion. The early hours, when sanctified by prayer, will help us to sanctify the whole day for God. Before ever we look upon the face of man, let us catch a morning smile from our Father in heaven; and we shall find how true it is that -

"His morning smiles bless all the day." C.

For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever.

1. Of its powers.

2. Of its affections.

3. Of its duration.


III. THE PERIOD OF ITS ACCOMPLISHMENT. It is limited; "it ceaseth for ever." How precious is time! what eternal results binge upon its right employment or neglect!

(D. M'Allum, M. D.)

I. THE SUBJECT OF REDEEMING LOVE — THE SOUL. We cannot question its existence. Reflect upon —

1. Its origin.

2. Its prodigious faculties.

3. Its duration. The soul is a flower that always blooms, a fountain which ever flows, a seed which never dies, a plant which never withers; that mysterious flame which, once kindled, nought can ever quench.

4. Its last and rescued state.

II. THE VALUE OF THIS REDEMPTION. It is "precious." For consider —

1. From what the soul of man is redeemed.

2. To what the soul is redeemed. Some of you have already tasted something of the pleasure which arises to the soul that has been sensibly freed from the trammels of sin and of Satan, and which anticipates the blessedness reserved in heaven for those who love God.

3. By what the soul is redeemed — the precious blood of Christ.

III. THE LIMITS within which alone the benefits of this redemption are to be obtained. "It ceaseth for ever." Consider, then —

1. The uncertainty of life.

2. How this world deceives us.

3. And Satan also deceives.

4. The positive evil which springs from delay.

(John Gasken, M. A.)


1. How high was the origin of the soul. See the history of its creation.

2. How vast its capacities. Small is the power of the human body, but the soul of man gives him a might and mastery all his own.

3. How eternal its duration.


1. See the greatness of the Author of Redemption.

2. The price that was paid to redeem us.

3. The stupendous nature of its results. These may affect the whole intelligent universe, and not this world alone. We are brought into a new relationship with God. Eternal woe is escaped and eternal blessedness gained. All this will be seen fully when the whole work of redemption is accomplished. How precious, then, must this work be. How important not to neglect it.

(Hugh Stowell, M. A.)

I. THE WORTH OF THE SOUL. The soul is precious to God, for it is His own workmanship — the end of creation, for which all earthly things were made, which received His blessing and obtained dominion over everything below. It is precious to the angels, for "there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth." It is precious to all Christians upon earth. How fervently and with what an undying flame did the love of it burn in the hearts of the apostles; and in how many forms did it show itself — in preaching, in writing, in continual prayer. And are not our souls precious to ourselves? If we find the soul to be precious, let us act as if it were so: if we discover that it is valueless, let us snatch the pleasures of life while they last. But the soul is precious. It must be so —

1. From the statements of God's Word;

2. From its nature;

3. From the value of that which has been given for it;

4. From the means used to save it.

II. THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF RECOVERING THE SOUL WHEN IT IS LOST. Our conduct in this world will determine our fate in the next.

1. The soul may be lost.

2. The soul must be lost, unless it be redeemed.

3. When once lost, the soul can never be regained.

4. The soul may be soon lost. It well becomes us, then, to improve our brief existence by endeavouring to secure the salvation of our souls; for in the future all is uncertainty but this one thing, that "the wicked are driven away in their wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death."

(W. Dickson.)

When Sir John Franklin was lost, the most extraordinary measures were set on foot to recover him and his party. The British and American governments combined together to save him if he should be yet living. Nearly a million pounds were spent in the search. Besides money, good and fearless men were ready to expose their life in the distant hope of finding, and relieving their missing brothers. The exceeding value of man's soul is seen in what Jesus has done for it. Men often put forth great efforts for very insignificant objects; but when we think of Christ leaving His bright throne in the heavens, and becoming a homeless wanderer upon the earth, that He might save lost souls, we are able to form some estimate of the soul's value. This was the life, the spiritual being, the deathless power breathed into man by the breath of God when he was made. It is our greatest gift, and that over which we should exercise the most sacred care,

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