Verses 1–6

The title of this psalm has nothing in it peculiar but that it is said to be upon Nehiloth, a word nowhere else used. It is conjectured (and it is but a conjecture) that is signifies wind—instruments, with which this psalm was sung, as Neginoth was supposed to signify the stringed—instruments. In Ps. 5:1-6 David had an eye to God,

I. As a prayer-hearing God; such he has always been ever since men began to call upon the name of the Lord, and yet is still as ready to hear prayer as ever. Observe how David here styles him: O Lord (Ps. 5:1, 3), Jehovah, a self-existent, self-sufficient, Being, whom we are bound to adore, and, “my King and my God (Ps. 5:2), whom I have avouched for my God, to whom I have sworn allegiance, and under whose protection I have put myself as my King.” We believe that the God we pray to is a King, and a God. King of kings and God of gods; but that is not enough: the most commanding encouraging principle of prayer, and the most powerful or prevailing plea in prayer, is to look upon him as our King and our God, to whom we lie under peculiar obligations and from whom we have peculiar expectations. Now observe,

1. What David here prays for, which may encourage our faith and hopes in all our addresses to God. If we pray fervently, and in faith, we have reason to hope, (1.) That God will take cognizance of our case, the representation we make of it and the requests we make upon it; for so he prays here: Give ear to my words, O Lord! Though God is in heaven, he has an ear open to his people’s prayers, and it is not heavy, that he cannot hear. Men perhaps will not or cannot hear us; our enemies are so haughty that they will not, our friends at such a distance that they cannot; but God, though high, though in heaven, can, and will. (2.) That he will take it into his wise and compassionate consideration, and will not slight it, or turn it off with a cursory answer; for so he prays: Consider my meditation. David’s prayers were not his words only, but his meditations; as meditation is the best preparative for prayer, so prayer is the best issue of meditation. Meditation and prayer should go together, Ps. 19:14. It is when we thus consider our prayers, and then only, that we may expect that God will consider them, and take that to his heart which comes from ours. (3.) That he will, in due time, return a gracious answer of peace; for so he prays (Ps. 5:2): Hearken to the voice of my cry. His prayer was a cry; it was the voice of his cry, which denotes fervency of affection and importunity of expression; and such effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man avail much and do wonders.

2. What David here promises, as the condition on his part to be performed, fulfilled, and kept, that he might obtain this gracious acceptance; this may guide and govern us in our addresses to God, that we may present them aright, for we ask, and have not, if we ask amiss. Four things David here promises, and so must we:—(1.) That he will pray, that he will make conscience of praying, and make a business of it: Unto thee will I pray. “Others live without prayer, but I will pray.” Kings on their own thrones (so David was) must be beggars at God’s throne. “Others pray to strange gods, and expect relief from them, but to thee, to thee only, will I pray.” The assurances God has given us of his readiness to hear prayer should confirm our resolution to live and die praying. (2.) That he will pray in the morning. His praying voice shall be heard then, and then shall his prayer be directed; that shall be the date of his letters to heaven, not that only (“Morning, and evening, and at noon, will I pray, nay, seven times a day, will I praise thee”), but that certainly. Morning prayer is our duty; we are the fittest for prayer when we are in the most fresh, and lively, and composed frame, got clear of the slumbers of the night, revived by them, and not yet filled with the business of the day. We have then most need of prayer, considering the dangers and temptations of the day to which we are exposed, and against which we are concerned; by faith and prayer, to fetch in fresh supplies of grace. (3.) That he will have his eye single and his heart intent in the duty: I will direct my prayer, as a marksman directs his arrow to the white; with such a fixedness and steadiness of mind should we address ourselves to God. Or as we direct a letter to a friend at such a place so must we direct our prayers to God as our Father in heaven; and let us always send them by the Lord Jesus, the great Mediator, and then they will be sure not to miscarry. All our prayers must be directed to God; his honour and glory must be aimed at as our highest end in all our prayers. Let our first petition be, Hallowed, glorified, by thy name, and then we may be sure of the same gracious answer to it that was given to Christ himself: I have glorified it, and I will glorify it yet again. (4.) That he will patiently wait for an answer of peace: “I will look up, will look after my prayers, and hear what God the Lord will speak (Ps. 85:8; Hab. 2:1), that, if he grant what I asked, I may be thankful—if he deny, I may be patient—if he defer, I may continue to pray and wait and may not faint.” We must look up, or look out, as he that has shot an arrow looks to see how near it has come to the mark. We lose much of the comfort of our prayers for want of observing the returns of them. Thus praying, thus waiting, as the lame man looked stedfastly on Peter and John (Acts 3:4), we may expect that God will give ear to our words and consider them, and to him we may refer ourselves, as David here, who does not pray, “Lord, do this, or the other, for me;” but, “Hearken to me, consider my case, and do in it as seemeth good unto thee.”

II. As a sin-hating God, Ps. 5:4-6. David takes notice of this, 1. As a warning to himself, and all other praying people, to remember that, as the God with whom we have to do is gracious and merciful, so he is pure and holy; though he is ready to hear prayer, yet, if we regard iniquity in our heart, he will not hear our prayers, Ps. 66:18. 2. As an encouragement to his prayers against his enemies; they were wicked men, and therefore enemies to God, and such as he had not pleasure in. See here. (1.) The holiness of God’s nature. When he says, Thou art not a God that has pleasure in wickedness, he means, “Thou art a God that hates it, as directly contrary to thy infinite purity and rectitude, and holy will.” Though the workers of iniquity prosper, let none thence infer that God has pleasure in wickedness, no, not in that by which men pretend to honour him, as those do that hate their brethren, and cast them out, and say, Let the Lord be glorified. God has no pleasure in wickedness, though covered with a cloak of religion. Let those therefore who delight in sin know that God has no delight in them; nor let any say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God is not the author of sin, neither shall evil dwell with him, that is, it shall not always be countenanced and suffered to prosper. Dr. Hammond thinks this refers to that law of Moses which would not permit strangers, who persisted in their idolatry, to dwell in the land of Israel. (2.) The justice of his government. The foolish shall not stand in his sight, that is, shall not be smiled upon by him, nor admitted to attend upon him, nor shall they be acquitted in the judgment of the great day. The workers of iniquity are very foolish. Sin is folly, and sinners are the greatest of all fools; not fools of God’s making (those are to be pitied), for he hates nothing that he has made, but fools of their own making, and those he hates. Wicked people hate God; justly therefore are they hated of him, and it will be their endless misery and ruin. “Those whom thou hatest thou shalt destroy;” particularly two sorts of sinners, who are here marked for destruction:—[1.] Those that are fools, that speak leasing or lying, and that are deceitful. There is a particular emphasis laid on these sinners (Rev. 21:8), All liars, and (Ps. 22:15), Whosoever loves and makes a lie; nothing is more contrary than this, and therefore nothing more hateful to the God of truth. [2.] Those that are cruel: Thou wilt abhor the bloody man; for inhumanity is no less contrary, no less hateful, to the God of mercy, whom mercy pleases. Liars and murderers are in a particular manner said to resemble the devil and to be his children, and therefore it may well be expected that God should abhor them. These were the characters of David’s enemies; and such as these are still the enemies of Christ and his church, men perfectly lost to all virtue and honour; and the worse they are the surer we may be of their ruin in due time.

In singing Ps. 5:1-6, and praying them over, we must engage and stir up ourselves to the duty of prayer, and encourage ourselves in it, because we shall not seek the Lord in vain; and must express our detestation of sin, and our awful expectation of that day of Christ’s appearing which will be the day of the perdition of ungodly men.