A brief study of Psalm 5, transcribed and edited from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 2 June 2006

Psalm 5 is not known as a Messianic Psalm. But the words in it certainly fit the lips and experience of our Lord even better than it fitted David.

David was no doubt a man of prayer. He no doubt sought the Lord in prayer in the morning as described in verse 3. But there is no reference in the historical accounts that he rose up early to pray. In contrast our Lord was known to arise to pray very early even before the sun arose.

We read in Mark 1:35, for example:—"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he [the Lord] went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed."

Conversely, if you read the Gospel accounts, you will not find any direct references to the Lord praying with loud crying in the fear of God. And yet the writer of Hebrews makes a strong point that He did so. Look at Heb 5:7—

"Who [i.e. the Lord Jesus] in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared" (Heb 5:7)

Now, the word translated ‘crying’ is the word kraugh'" which speaks of loud cries or even shrieking or shouting. Our Lord prayed with loud cries according to this verse.

Where did the apostle get this idea? Perhaps he was thinking about the Garden of Gethsemane. But if you read the account of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, you will not find anything that suggested that our Lord was praying with loud cries.

Well, I believe that the apostle got the idea from Psalm 5. Look at verse 2—"Hearken unto the voice of my cry." Well, the word translated ‘cry’ here occurs only once in the Hebrew Bible, and it is translated in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) using the word ‘kraugh'"’ which is the word used in Hebrews 5:7.

And look at verse 7b—"in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple." The writer of Hebrews tells us that the Lord Jesus "offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears …and was heard in that he feared" (Heb 5:7).

What I am saying is: The writer of Hebrews writing under inspiration must have seen Psalm 5, as he does with all the other psalms as not merely describing the experience of David, but rather the experience of Christ. David was but a type of Christ. By the providence of God, David was given experiences that would enable him to write about the inner feelings of Christ in the days of His flesh.

With this in mind, let us glean three lessons from this psalm.

First, let us consider how our Lord prayed in the morning.

1. Our Lord’s Practice of Prayer

When we consider that Psalm 5 is not merely about David, but about our Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh, it is not difficult to see how this psalm actually fill in some of the blanks that are left out in the Gospel accounts in regards to our Lord’s earthly ministry.

In particular, when you read the Gospel accounts about the Lord getting up in the morning to pray, do you not wonder how our Lord prayed and what He prayed? Well this psalm gives us an idea.

This psalm opens with an indication of how our Lord prayed. He prayed early. He prayed earnestly and with strong crying. He prayed aloud. He did not only petition His Father. He prayed conversationally. "Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation" He says.

Brethren, this was how our Lord prayed in the days of His flesh. He was the son of God; and He was extremely busy. But He prayed. He did not just send a few pointed arrows to heaven. No, no; He took time to enjoy fellowship with His Father. He told His Father about His fears and sorrows. He acknowledged who His Father is, and praised Him for how He deals with man.

His petitions were made with appropriate augmentations and arguments. "8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face." Notice how He appeals to the Father to lead Him, not in any way but in righteousness. Notice how He calls upon His father to consider His enemies. Our Lord had many enemies during the days of his flesh.

His prayers were conversations with His Father, but His prayers were not flippant. He worshipped with ‘fear’ (v. 7). He was always reverential towards His Father. Never does He come to the Father sleepily and perfunctorily.

Oh beloved brethren, let us learn from the example of our Lord and of David the man after God’s own heart how we should pray.

This is our first lesson from this psalm.

But now let’s consider the things that move our Lord to pray in this psalm—namely, His thoughts about man and God’s relationship with them.

So our second lesson from this psalm must be our Lord’s attitude towards the wicked.

2. Our Lord’s Attitude Towards the Wicked

We live in a day when political correctness is demanded of all public figures. Our Lord was not politically correct. He was simply correct. He was not afraid to call a snake, a snake, and a sheep a sheep. He does not speak of snakes as legless sheep. He identifies them for what they are.… because this is how God views them.

4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. 5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. 6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.…

9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.

Our Lord, you must realise is not simply speaking about some people he did not like. He is speaking about the wicked in general.

Turn to Romans 3. Do you see how the apostle Paul quotes this Psalm 5:9 in verse 13—

"Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips" (Rom 3:13)

Paul, you must realise, is in the context speaking about the natural man. "All man are by nature like that!" he is saying. In fact, verse 10—"there is none righteous, no not one."

Now if you turn back to Psalm 5, do you see what our Lord is saying? He is not merely speaking about some extraordinarily wicked person. He is speaking about the natural man in general.

All man are by nature wicked and hateful to God.

The Lord Jesus did not try to minimise God’s hatred for the wicked. Even the elect are children of wrath before their conversion. How much more the reprobate?

How should we respond to this truth? Well, I do not think we should respond by showing hatred to unbelievers. No, no; the Lord Jesus Himself teaches us how our heavenly Father sends the rain and the sunshine on the just and the unjust. And He teaches us to be kind and merciful even to the wicked.

But this truth that our Lord teaches us should shape our prayers. How should we pray for the wicked? I believe we must never pray that God will bless them temporally without praying for their conversion.

We should, in fact, in our prayers for unbelievers acknowledge how they are hateful to God as our Lord did. And we must also be prepared to pray that the Lord will deal with the wicked in a robust way as our Lord did, verse 10—

10 Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.

But our Lord did not only think about the wicked. He thought also about the righteous. So our third lesson must be on our Lord’s attitude towards the righteous.

3. Our Lord’s Attitude
Towards the Righteous

But who are the righteous? We just saw that there is none righteous, no, not one. Who then are the righteous?

Well, the righteous are those who trust in the Lord:

11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. 12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

The righteous are not righteous in themselves. They are righteous on account of Christ. They are righteous because God defends them from His own wrath. They are righteous because God has compassed them with, as it were, a shield.

Who is this shield? This shield is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He took on the arrows of God’s wrath on our behalf.

This Sabbath we are remembering the Lord’s Death at His Supper. Let us remind ourselves as we come to the Supper of how deeply our Lord loved us and was determined to bless us.

In this Psalm He calls upon God to bless us. He desires that we be able to shout for joy. But it was not just an empty desire. It was a desire that He made possible. We were wicked children of wrath. He laid down His life for us that we may be righteous in the sight of God. He died that we may have life. He became a curse for us in order that we may have God’s blessing. He cried in pain that we might shout for joy.

What shall we do as we come to the Table? Shall we not turn away from the sin that He hates so much that He laid down His life to cleanse us of them? Shall we not resolve to lay down our lives for Him and for one another? Shall we not take positive steps to make sure that we can indeed live for Him? For just imagine if Christ prayed for our blessings, but He would not do anything to ensure that we qualify for the blessing—how meaningless would this psalm be then?


Christ our Lord prayed fervently. He prayed for Himself that He might be guided in God’s way. He prayed for the wicked—that God would glorify Himself by dealing with the wicked. And He prayed for the saints—that God would bless them. And in order that that His prayers might be heard, He laid down His life that His Father might deal with Him as He would deal with the wicked—that having satisfied His wrath, He might receive us as a people whose sins have been paid for.

Thank God for Christ our Lord. Thank God that because of Him, we are not consumed. Shall we not love Him? Shall we not trust Him and serve Him joyfully? Amen.

— JJ Lim