God’s shield of favor, Psalm 5

Why does suffering surprise us? What makes us think we are entitled to a life free from pain or persecution? Why should life be any different for us than it was for David, a man God loved?

The psalter overflow with emotional pleas for God’s deliverance, and Psalm 5 begins similarly to many others:

Give ear to my words, O LORD;
   consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
   my King and my God,
   for to you do I pray (Psalm 5:1-2, ESV).

These pleas for God’s ear emphasize that God is the only one to whom we can turn for relief from our distress. He is the Most High God and the ruler of all creation; he alone is the singular source of assistance.

David begins his day with eager prayer and expectant worship:

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
   in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch (3, ESV).

As David prays and worships, he trusts that God will answer. He has confidence that God will destroy the forces of evil in his life. God will do this because he is holy:

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
   evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
   you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
   the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man (4-6, ESV).

David understands God’s holy character. He knows that God does not delight in wickedness. He cannot allow evil to dwell with him or the boastful to stand before him. He hates all evildoers and destroys all liars. The Lord particularly abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men.

Genuine believers, in contrast, will live in blessing and enjoy the abundance of God’s love:

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
   will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
   in the fear of you.
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
   because of my enemies;
   make your way straight before me (7-8, ESV).

The person who truly fears the Lord and whole-heartedly worships him will enter God’s house of rest. God will make his way straight and preserve him from his enemies.

Because those enemies are also God’s enemies, they will perish on their own swords. God will overturn their deceits so that these wicked self-destruct:

For there is no truth in their mouth;
   their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
   they flatter with their tongue.
Make them bear their guilt, O God;
   let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
   for they have rebelled against you (9-10, ESV).

Their mouths drip lies. The core of their being is rottenness. They flatter, but the putrid stench of their open mouths betrays their interior decay.

David asks God to turn their own guilt upon them and make them fall by their own counsels, not because they have hurt him, but because they have transgressed grievously against God.

The impending agony and destruction of the wicked stands in stark contrast to the eternal joy and security of the righteous: 

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
   let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
   that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
   you cover him with favor as with a shield (11-12, ESV).

Thos who take refuge in God will rejoice. They will sing joyfully forever. God will spread his protection over those who love his name and they will exult in him. God blesses the righteous. He covers them with favor as with a shield.

Does it seem as if the deceitful are winning? Does it seem as if everyone believes the lies about you? God is a holy God. He cannot allow evil to stand. He will turn the devices of the deceivers and liars upon their own heads. They will fall upon the sharp edge of their own cutting counsels.

But you who take refuge in God will rejoice! God will spread his protection over you and you will rejoice forever. You will sing for joy and exult God’s name! For God blesses the righteous. He covers them with the indestructible shield of his favor!

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