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; you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest.

But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple. Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies make your way straight before me.

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies.

Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you.  

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. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. – Psalm 5.

 

Something that is very relieving and focusing about the psalms is how they are worship. The psalms are not theological treatises. Instead they are, as Timothy Keller calls them, The Songs of Jesus. The Psalms are a way to not simply speak about God, they are a way to focus our minds and hearts on Him and what is important to Him.

This psalm is a fantastic view of communion with God. It is a picture of the privilege of being in the presence of God. Think of the glory of a King. Think of the honor that you wish you could give Him. The God of all the earth. The King of all glory. The perfect one who has always been and always will be unchanged and unchanging because there is no need to do so. This is the God in whom we have them opportunity to come before.

“Listen to my words,” knowing that it was God’s words that formed the universe. Consider my lament. The psalmist asks God to do more than see his struggle. David longs for God to hear, to notice, and to help him through His life’s relentless attacks. David longs to see, to hear from, and to be focused on this God the one who knows him.

We have a God who opens His ears to us. We have a God who knows us. The question about what God knows about us transforms as we go through the psalm. What does God know, what does God see, what does God hear when He reflects on your need.

I had a young boy tell me once, “If God answers prayers why doesn’t he let me win this contest I entered.” Intrigued and knowing a lot that has gone poorly in his life completely outside of his control, I asked what he would do if he won. Quickly he responded, “Well, I’d buy a ton of music!” I responded promptly, “Would any of this music focus on or worship the Lord?” The young man responded, “No.” To which I asked, “Than why should He help you win?” The young man simply said, “Because I want to.”

Sadly, this is the story for many of us in our prayers. Even kind prayers asking for healing of loved ones or safe travels we fail to point out an important principle of the psalms and what prayer is for. Prayer and the psalms are for and about God. The Lord is the main character in this play we call life, and we are His supporting cast.

We want God to know us, we want to be seen and have that importance, we want Him to please us, but is He what pleases us most of all. The Psalms constant focus on who God is truly what should captivate and teach us. God is the one whom we must focus on as we long to be focused on ourselves.

The Lord will hear you, be diligent in looking to Him.

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.

Who would listen to you? Many of us are spoiled with spouses who longingly wait to hear of our days. We have parents who want nothing more than to hear a real answer to their question, “How was your day?” And, children love when their parents speak so excitingly about their current situations both great and terrible. Take a moment and chuckle.

Recently we have all obtained the status of reporter. We have a news page with no fear of an editor censoring or interfering with our column. We can focus on politics, sports, local news, our family can be a highlight, our column can be centered around food, or maybe to some great extent we can be the cooking page. We are our own news outlet.

But, in a world full of white-noise and the ability to be seen or heard to some extent or another this psalm’s desperate plea is all the more relevant. This plea is about more than simply to be recognized. It is a call for action. It is more than a news program. It is more than a sharing about the day and wanting to be affirmed. This is more than even asking for advice. No, this psalm shows the activity of God.

David expectantly waits for the Lord to be actively attentive to what he asks and expectantly waits for God to move, to do, to be involved in his life. But, that’s the key, the Lord is involved.

Go before Him with humility not self-righteousness, or with sinfulness rampant, or with sinful intent.

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; you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest.

This verse shows a great deal of contrast to the opening verses. It begs you to ask the question, how do I come before the Lord? Are you the one humbly coming before the King of kings and Lord of lords. The question is more than do you delight in wickedness or righteousness. The question is whether you delight in your humility before the Lord?

The Lord surely does not delight in wrong. The psalms are filled with a relevant theme. Judge me God. The people seeking the Lord wish for the Lord to judge them. Judgment does not automatically mean guilt. Instead, judgment can lead to redemption. But, you must put yourself before the one in whom you will give account anyways to judged.

David, the king, the slayer of Goliath, the slayer of thousands of enemies, and the singer knew that he would need to truthfully come before the Lord. There was no need to deceive himself or others. The opening verses that claim a desire for God to know him and to be actively involved his life set the stage for honesty.

This verse clearly shows us an important note. God does not simply delight in what is right he actively despises what is opposite to who He is. He hates lies and will not permit people coming before Him that do not recognize Him as King.

If He is active in coming to our aid opposing those who would attack us He is similarly active in opposition to what is opposed to Him. He not only hates what is wrong He destroys lies. Nothing can be hidden from Him.

When we come before the God of the universe we must recognize who He is. We must be aware of who we are. If we have done wrong, there is no need to hide this from Him, He knows. If we have done wrong, we must own it.

Jesus shared a parable that is extremely prevalent here.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Luke 18:9-14

Life with the Lord is more than about what commands we follow or do not. Hear me oh Lord, is not simply for the perfect. Hear me oh Lord, is for those who recognize the greatness of the Lord. David the author of this psalm was far from perfect. He almost killed Nabal because he didn’t show him the respect David thought he was owed. David was angry with the Lord because a friend of his died while improperly moving the Ark of the Covenant and touched it.

David and Bathsheba lead to the most repentant psalm in the psalter and numerous lifelong consequences. Yet, David was considered righteous at the end of his life. He was considered righteous by the Lord because of true repentance and humility not because of perfection. David had learned to seek to give glory to the Lord in all areas of life.

When you pray, do you pray for what you want or do you ask what He wants from you and where He wants you to go?

But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies make your way straight before me.

This verse is an obvious contrasting parallel to the previous verse. The arrogant are opposed to the Lord, while those who in reverence recognize the weight of glory of the Lord. But, it is more than a simple recognition. This is where you see an action by the psalmist.

The previous section focused on the sinful actions of those opposed to God. In these verses you find David and those singing this psalm declaring what their actions will be.

Because of the greatness of the Lord we follow God’s lead. David recognizes numerous people will try to lead him astray. What the psalmist wants is what the Lord wants. Oh, how great would it be if all we longed for was to be led by the Lord.

If we had more than a simplistic view of church, community, faith, and belief in God. What if we recognized and shared with the world, with our world, what it means to live for Jesus not simply to know about Him. He is God. When we believe in Him it becomes more than simply understanding 2+2=4. The truth of who God is transforms us just like He transformed the world.

This transformation defines you. It is not because of you or your efforts instead the Lord is the reason you enter into His presence. It is because of God and in that understanding our prayers and our conversations are prefaced and find their foundation in who He is. Your will God. You are lead in every action by the Lord.

Imagine if when you spoke to people you just met and people you’ve known for a lifetime purposefully pervasively about name of God. Can you go a conversation without mentioning the Lord? Can you go a morning without speaking about God? Can you go a day without speaking about God? How long can you go without speaking about the Lord?

It’s important to contemplate what you are focused on when you are with other people. Because your God is more than the God of your closet. He is the God of the world, He is the God of every person you meet. And, knowing His greatness should cause us to pause and ask what we say when we come before Him.

Are we flippant about His greatness? This is not as simple as whether or not you question if He can accomplish your prayers it is the question of whether or not what you are asking for is going to declare His greatness more. How prayers testify how great He is in the world? How do your prayers help others see God?

The psalmist encourages us here to ask the Lord to lead him so that no one would point him away from God. This should be our aim that in every situation our direction is the same, our direction is toward to the Lord.

Do not devise what you desire from someone that is not pointing you to the Lord.

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies.

It may be taboo in our culture to give a negatively focused command, but the scripture is clear. It is imperative for those who seek the Lord to understand that the direction of those not pointing you to the Lord are just that, they are pointing you away from the Lord.

In no way am I saying that if someone does not love the Lord then their council is automatically foolish, sinister, and aiming to point you intentionally to the pits of hell. What I am saying is that when you are counseled by people, by companies, by wise books, by a great deal of influences you should ask first and foremost, how are these suggestions and desires pointing to the risen savior?

If everything you do whether in word or deed is meant to be done giving thanks to God the father, remembering the son, and living through the Holy Spirit than how do you learn to do that from people who do not know Him? You can adapt the information to point toward Christ.

I knew people in Bible college that thought syncopated rhythms and even minor keys were of the devil. The question is not simply what you are doing, but why are you doing it. What is the New Commandment? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

Jesus called us not only commands us to love God with everything we are, the greatest commandment. He not only commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. He commands us to love one another in such a sacrificial way that you would give up your status that you have, your comfort through torture, your life, your lifestyle, your people, and even your family in order to bring one person to know the Lord.

What person who does not definitively know the savior and what He has done for them would advise you to revolve your life around such an absurdly sacrificial, self-deprecating, and painful lifestyle?

Think about how drastic the God of our Holy Bible was. One man and his family hoarded items from the city of Jericho which lead to at least 40 deaths. The first King of Israel, Saul led the men and woman into more trouble by not destroying all that he was commanded to, he lost his kingly line because of this. King David’s friend died because he touched the Arc of the Covenant. King David lost children, had his own son take the kingdom from him and be betrayed by those whom he cared for like his own, Mephibosheth. Sinfulness and the counsel of those not aimed at the Lord had tangible consequences we do not completely comprehend.

Do not be hesitant to call out sinfulness.

Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you.

This statement pairs promptly with David’s final statement and his whole psalm. God, take action. That is the entire premise of this psalm and almost every psalm there is a call for the Lord to take action. There are numerous ways that we can prepare and be prepared for the Lord’s actions.

But, this psalm just like the whole of scripture is adamantly opposed to wrong doing. It is so opposed to those opposed to God that it would promote God to banish those who would rebel against the Lord.

Understand this, the psalmist sees being in the presence of God to be the ultimate joy. If the presence of God is the greatest joy they can have than being banished is the worst punishment.

The scriptures boldly proclaim the truth and do not shy away from declaring what is sinful. They leave the judgment to the Lord, but they call God to come and make a judgment.

Seek the Lord, rejoice and take comfort in Him.

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. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. – Psalm 5

Refuge for David was real, it was relevant, people were trying to kill him all throughout his life. The presence of the Lord was the destination for David. There was no where He longed to be more than with Him. The Lord was where David found comfort, felt safe, and where he rejoiced the most.

But, this joy, this shelter, the presence, and rejoicing in the Lord is not exclusive. Instead, David desired to share this with all those who seek the Lord. The desire is that all who put their trust, who aim their lives, and who take refuge in the Lord will have this joy.

Happiness is not simply found or created. No, happiness and peace is found in the Lord. Amidst the craziness of life. Amidst all of the different situations, places, and people there is one constant and that is the Lord.