A Reflection on the Psalms

Read through Psalm 5
Psalm 5 can essentially extend our understanding of God’s relationship with the world. As we saw above, a canonical connection between this psalm and Psalm 4 is useful for our understanding of who God is. Another connection between these psalms are their emphasis on God’s hearing. But as we will see God’s hearing is crucial for Him to enact His speaking or declarations.
In verses 1-3, we need to consider the verbs used of God that relate it back to Psalm 4: “listen” (v.1); “hear” (v.2); and “you hear” (v.3). The psalmist wants to continue to emphasize this theme of God being a really good listener. But where God is a good listener in the positive sense in Psalm 4 – He faithfully hears His faithful ones – in this psalm there is a negative effect of God’s hearing. Where God faithfully hears the cries of the righteous, He also critically hears the lies and corruption of the wicked ones.
Verses 4-5 introduces to whom and what God’s wrath and hate is directed to: “wickedness” (v.4a); “evil people” (v.4b); “the arrogant” (v.5a); and “all who do wrong” (v.5b). So the object of God’s wrath and hate is identified in verses 4-5, and then we see in what way God inclines His critical and just ear towards those who are wicked and evil.
We see the negative power of the tongue in verses 6-9. The wicked are further described in “hearing” terms: they are “those who tell lies” and are “deceitful” (v.6); and “not a word from their mouth can be trusted” (v.9a). It is important what follows this statement: “their heart is filled with malice” (v.9b). Why does the psalmist connect the words of the wicked one’s mouth with malice in his heart? Well consider the words of our Lord Jesus in Mark 7.15, “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” He is talking about the words one speaks because those words come from the source of the person – their heart. If a person speaks evil words, then it is a good indication that the person’s heart is evil and corrupt. This is why the wicked are described as such: “their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies” (v.9). These words are borrowed by the apostle Paul to talk about everyone in Romans 3.13. Essentially, we all fit the description above concerning the wicked. God hears the wicked tongues of the evil ones; so God first hears the wickedness of our own tongues.
But the gospel is declared in Psalm 5.10-12. Even though we all fit the description above, God does not leave us there. For even though the power of our tongue is powerful to bring about our corruption and wickedness, the psalmist shows that God’s words are even more powerful to bring justice and righteousness. Verse 10 calls for God to “declare” – to declare the wicked “guilty” and to “banish them.” But for the righteous “who take refuge” in Him, they will use their powerful tongues to “sing for joy” (v.11). This singing occurs because the LORD will surely “bless the righteous” (v.12). This is justification by faith: God declares us to be righteous in Jesus Christ, and therefore, He declares the reality of new life upon us to live out. God’s Word is far more powerful than our wicked tongues and because of that we can praise Him.
Prayer: Thank you God for declaring us righteous and speaking new life into our dead hearts. We praise you because you hear us not as wicked enemies, but as your faithful children. Amen!

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