In Ps. 5:7-12 David gives three characters—of himself, of his enemies, and of all the people of God, and subjoins a prayer to each of them.
I. He gives an account of himself and prays for himself, Ps. 5:7, 8.
1. He is stedfastly resolved to keep closely to God and to his worship. Sinners go away from God, and so make themselves odious to his holiness and obnoxious to his justice: “But, as for me, that shall not keep me from thee.” God’s holiness and justice are so far from being a terror to the upright in heart, to drive them from God, that they are rather by them invited to cleave to him. David resolves, (1.) To worship God, to pay his homage to him, and give unto God the glory due unto his name. (2.) To worship him publicly: “I will come into thy house, the courts of thy house, to worship there with other faithful worshippers.” David was much in secret worship, prayed often alone (Ps. 5:2, 3), and yet was very constant and devout in his attendance on the sanctuary. The duties of the closet are designed to prepare us for, not to excuse us from, public ordinances. (3.) To worship him reverently and with a due sense of the infinite distance there is between God and man: “In thy fear will I worship, with a holy awe of God upon my spirit,” Heb. 12:28. God is greatly to be feared by all his worshippers. (4.) To take his encouragement, in worship, from God himself only. [1.] From his infinite mercy. It is in the multitude of God’s mercy (the inexhaustible treasures of mercy that are in God and the innumerable proofs and instances of it which we receive from him) that David confides, and not in any merit or righteousness of his own, in his approaches to God. The mercy of God should ever be both the foundation of our hopes and the fountain of our joy in every thing wherein we have to do with him. [2.] From the instituted medium of worship, which was then the temple, here called the temple of his holiness, as a type of Christ, the great and only Mediator, who sanctifies the service as the temple sanctified the gold, and to whom we must have an eye in all our devotions as the worshippers then had to the temple.
2. He earnestly prays that God, by his grace, would guide and preserve him always in the way of his duty (Ps. 5:8): Lead me in thy righteousness, because of my enemies—Heb. “Because of those who observe me, who watch for my halting and seek occasion against me.” See here, (1.) The good use which David made of the malice of his enemies against him. The more curious they were in spying faults in him, that they might have whereof to accuse him, the more cautious he was to avoid sin and all appearances of it, and the more solicitous to be always found in the good way of God and duty. Thus, by wisdom and grace, good may come out of evil. (2.) The right course which David took for the baffling of those who sought occasion against him. He committed himself to a divine guidance, begged of God both by his providence and by his grace to direct him in the right way, and keep him from turning aside out of it, at any time, in any instance whatsoever, that the most critical and captious of his enemies, like Daniel’s, might find no occasion against him. The way of our duty is here called God’s way, and his righteousness, because he prescribes to us by his just and holy laws, which if we sincerely set before us as our rule, we may in faith beg of God to direct us in all particular cases. How this prayer of David’s was answered to him see 1 Sam. 18:14, 15.
II. He gives an account of his enemies, and prays against them, Ps. 5:9, 10. 1. If his account of them is true, as no doubt it is, they have a very bad character; and, if they had not been bad men indeed, they could not have been enemies to a man after God’s own heart. He had spoken (Ps. 5:6) of God’s hating the bloody and deceitful man. “Now, Lord,” says he, “that is the character of my enemies: they are deceitful; there is no trusting them, for there is no faithfulness in their mouth.” They thought it was no sin to tell a deliberate lie if it might but blemish David, and render him odious. “Lord, lead me,” says he (Ps. 5:8), “for such as these are the men I have to do with, against whose slanders innocency itself is no security. Do they speak fair? Do they talk of peace and friendship? They flatter with their tongues; it is designed to cover their malice, and to gain their point the more securely. Whatever they pretend of religion or friendship, two sacred things, they are true to neither: Their inward part is wickedness itself; it is very wickedness. They are likewise bloody; for their throat is an open sepulchre, cruel as the grave, gaping to devour and to swallow up, insatiable as the grave, which never says, It is enough,” Prov. 30:15, 16. This is quoted (Rom. 3:13) to show the general corruption of mankind; for they are all naturally prone to malice, Titus 3:3. The grave is opened for them all, and yet they are as open graves to one another. 2. If his prayer against them is heard, as no doubt it is, they are in a bad condition. As men are, and do, so they must expect to fare. He prays to God to destroy them (according to what he had said Ps. 5:6; “Thou shalt destroy men of this character,” so let them fall; and sinners would soon throw themselves into ruin if they were let alone), to cast them out of his protection and favour, out of the heritage of the Lord, out of the land of the living; and woe to those whom God casts out. “They have by their sins deserved destruction; there is enough to justify God in their utter rejection: Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, by which they have filled up the measure of their iniquity and have become ripe for ruin.” Persecuting God’s servants fills the measure as soon as any thing, 1 Thess. 2:15. Nay, they may be easily made to fall by their own counsels; that which they do to secure themselves, and do mischief to others, by the over-ruling providence of God may be made a means of their destruction, Ps. 7:15; 9:15. He pleads, “They have rebelled against thee. Had they been only my enemies, I could safely have forgiven them; but they are rebels against God, his crown and dignity; they oppose his government, and will not repent, to give him glory, and therefore I plainly foresee their ruin.” His prayer for their destruction comes not from a spirit of revenge, but from a spirit of prophecy, by which he foretold that all who rebel against God will certainly be destroyed by their own counsels. If it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to those that trouble his people, as we are told it is (2 Thess. 1:6), we pray that it may be done whenever we pray, Father, thy will be done.
III. He gives an account of the people of God, and prays for them, concluding with an assurance of their bliss, which he doubted not of his own interest in. Observe, 1. The description he gives of God’s people. They are the righteous (Ps. 5:12); for they put their trust in God, are well assured of his power and all-sufficiency, venture their all upon his promise, and are confident of his protection in the way of their duty; and they love his name, are well pleased with all that by which God has made himself known, and take delight in their acquaintance with him. This is true and pure religion, to live a life of complacency in God and dependence on him. 2. His prayer for them: “Let them rejoice; let them have cause to rejoice and hearts to rejoice; fill them with joy, with great joy and unspeakable; let them shout for joy, with constant joy and perpetual; let them ever shout for joy, with holy joy, and that which terminates in God; let them be joyful in thee, in thy favour, in thy salvation, not in any creature. Let them rejoice because thou defendest them, coverest them, or overshadowest them, dwellest among them.” Perhaps here is an allusion to the pillar of cloud and fire, which was to Israel a visible token of God’s special presence with them and the special protection they were under. Let us learn of David to pray, not for ourselves only, but for others, for all good people, for all that trust in God and love his name, though not in every thing of our mind nor in our interest. Let all that are entitled to God’s promises have a share in our prayers; grace be with all that love Christ in sincerity. This is to concur with God. 3. His comfort concerning them, Ps. 5:12. He takes them into his prayers because they are God’s peculiar people; therefore he doubts not but his prayers shall be heard, and they shall always rejoice; for, (1.) They are happy in the assurance of God’s blessing: “Thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous, wilt command a blessing upon them. Thou hast in thy word pronounced them blessed, and therefore wilt make them truly so. Those whom thou blessest are blessed indeed.” (2.) “They are safe under the protection of thy favour; with that thou wilt crown him” (so some read it); “it is his honour, will be to him a diadem of beauty, and make him truly great: with that thou wilt compass him, wilt surround him, on every side, as with a shield.” A shield, in war, guards only one side, but the favour of God is to the saints a defence on every side; like the hedge about Job, round about, so that, while they keep themselves under the divine protection, they are entirely safe and ought to be entirely satisfied.
In singing Ps. 5:7-12, and praying them over, we must by faith put ourselves under God’s guidance and care, and then please ourselves with his mercy and grace and with the prospect of God’s triumphs at last over all his enemies and his people’s triumphs in him and in his salvation.