Psalm 5 appears to be built around the number 5. If anyone wonders if the psalmist ever used numbers to structure their text, then this psalm would seem to settle the question.
- It the 5th psalm
- It has a 5 word heading (in Hebrew)
- 5 words (in Hebrew) are used to describe God in verse 6b (all the rest of the psalm is written to God rather than about God)
- The word YHWH (LORD) is used exactly 5 times.
- The psalm is divided into 5 sections.
Notice how the thought structure works to the center and then mirrors itself as it works its way to the end in an ABCBA form. This is called chiastic structure.
I find it intriguing how complex some of the psalms are in their structure. The psalmists took great care not only in the content, but also the craftsmanship of the poetry. God is worthy of our best efforts in everything we do for Him.
The meaningful center can be found at the end of verse 7:
I will bow down (worship) toward your holy temple in the fear of you.
This psalm reminds us that worship is central to a believers life.
|Answer Me! (Psalm 5:1-3)|
|You Hate Evil (Psalm 5:4-6)|
|I Worship You (Psalm 5:4-8)|
|Punish the Evil Doer (Psalm 5:9-10)|
|I Rejoice in Your Answer! (Psalm 5:11-12)|
The psalmist cries out to God, asking the Lord to answer his prayer. Similar to Psalm 4, this psalm begins with a plea for help and ends with confidence that God will answer. The psalmist finishes this section by declaring that he will wait for an answer. The writer is not only going to ask God for help, but is waiting and listening, anticipating an answer. What is it that you are calling for God to do in your life? Do you trust that God will answer?
You, God, Hate Evil
The songwriter reminds God that He cannot allow evil to go unpunished. And then, as if to emphasize this one point, the writer stops addressing God and for 5 words (in Hebrew) turns to the reader to say, "YHWH (the LORD) abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man." Not only are these the only words addressed to the audience, but it is also the middle of only 5 times that the name YHWH is used. God will not let the sinner go unpunished!
I Worship You!
It is common for the psalmists to place their most important thought at the center of the psalm. In the center of this psalm we find the poet bowing in worship before an awe-inspiring God. When we bow before God in worship, we are reminded of His greatness and love. In light of God's love and power, how can we doubt His provision and protection? In the midst of our struggles it is so important for us to keep a proper perspective through worship.
The final line reminds us of Proverbs 3:6. If we focus our lives on God then He will make our paths straight - He will guide us in the right way.
make your way straight before me.
Punish the Evildoer
The writer now asks God to punish the evil people. Because they can only use their tongue for evil, it is time for God to act. Notice how prominent a place the tongue plays in an evil life: in verse 6 they speak lies and in verse 9 they continue to flatter and lie. James warns us that the tongue stains the whole body!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. James 3:6
I Rejoice in Your Answer!
Just as the tongue can be used for evil, it can also be used for good.
let them ever sing for joy
The psalm ends with rejoicing as the writer declares his confidence that God will both protect and bless the righteous.
In this psalm we find a excellent example for us to follow in our struggles. The poet cries out to God for help, trusting God fully to protect him. This confidence in God comes from the writers humble worship of God.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.