The fifth psalm is a morning meditation.
Many years later we find a quotation taken from this psalm and quoted in the New Testament. (Rom. 3:13).
I cannot help but think: how few people will to-day meditate like the saint in this psalm.
To-day there is a very different tenor in the meditations of those who “look up” and “direct their prayer in the morning.”
There are not a few divines who explain (?) this psalm as a sinful outburst of selfishness on the part of David. Some do not try to explain it at all. Some think it a cruel, old testament view of God. The “vloek psalmen” are not very popular in our day. Even the purest churches on earth are strangely silent about them.
Many years ago we have heard a president of a certain synod say that we have a peculiar view of God and that therefore we teach as we do. Our view of God was not his view. And I am persuaded that one reason for this diversity of views is our appreciation of the “vloek psalmen.” We would also incorporate them in our system of thought.
And why should we not?
Paul did. He quotes them. He needs them in order to preach the blessed gospel of God’s Son. He needs them in order to paint “so great a death!” From which we are saved.
Besides, even these psalms that speak of God’s great indignation over against the wicked are part and parcel of the self-revelation of God, most blessed forever! They tell us not only God’s inclination or disposition over against the reprobate but also His carriage, His bearing, His deportment and His attitude over against these same unhappy men. (See Psalm 18:26). Certainly these psalms are the product of the Holy Spirit. Certainly also of Psalm 5 it may be said that holy men, driven by the Holy Spirit have spoken and subsequently written the Word of God.
However, if you should ask me: but are not these psalms terrible? I would make answer in the affirmative. I could make answer through the same David. Favoring the Holland translation I would say with him in Psalm 119:20: “The hair of my flesh trembleth for fear of Thee; and I am afraid of Thy judgments!”
But we may not react even as the seed of the serpent. When they read, hear or see the indignation and holy wrath of God they hate God. Listen to Isaiah’s appraisal of these people: “The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Isa. 33:14
It is no cause for wonder that natural man reacts as he does. And there are two reasons.
The first reason is God’s appraisal of the wicked.
The fifth psalm is very short; only 12 verses. Moreover, there are only 5 of these 12 verses that deal with the reprobate. But what a terrible appraisal of the wicked! Listen to this: They are: the foolish; workers of iniquity; those that speak leasing (deceit); the man of blood (in the Hebrew the plural is used: intensity); rebels against God; transgressors; unfaithful mouths; wickedness for inward parts; throats that are open sepulchers; flattering, oily tongues; falling counsels; and multiple transgressors!
Such appraisal of God of the wicked makes him hate God the more.
The second reason why the wicked react unfavorably against God is God’s attitude and disposition over against them.
Also this we find in the fifth psalm.
Attend to: God hath no pleasure in their wickedness; evil does dwell with Him; the foolish do not stand in His sight; He hates the workers of iniquity; destroys the liars; and abhors the bloody and deceitful man!
And man, natural man, reacts.
But why should the church of Jesus Christ react unfavorably?
Or why should the church be so concerned about the wicked that they whitewash him at every opportunity, even to the corrupting of Scripture? Every text that seems to be in favor of the common grace idea (and they are few indeed) is looked at through the loupe; but the countless texts that clearly speak of God’s wrath and fiery indignation is simply ignored or wrested into its very opposite.
Let us see this.
You all know that the very heart of the common grace theory is that God loves the wicked, be it for this time only. They may call it favor, goodness, favorable attitude or disposition, grace that is common, longsuffering and what not; but the fact remains that they teach that God loves the wicked somehow.
But I read in Psalm 5 that God hates the workers of iniquity!
I read that God abhors the bloody and deceitful man!
I ask in all seriousness: cannot these men read? I am reminded of the ironical question of Jesus: Have ye never read?
And when we confront these men with such clear references as quoted before, they make answer and say: God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. Then they say: Yes, we agree: God hates the wicked, but He also loves them and that is a mystery. Somehow there is a logic with God that is so high and metaphysical that we cannot even grasp it. God’s love and God’s hatred for the same person can be harmonized in God’s own being.
But this is terrible even to think.
And we would add that these men who talk such nonsense cannot believe that themselves. We cannot believe a nonsensical thing or thought. It militates against everything that God has revealed of Himself in man.
No, the real reason why men talk such nonsense is that they would like to have it so. They cannot swallow the bitter pill of God’s appraisal of natural man. It cuts them to the quick. They realize that if the truth be so, that then they themselves are also comprised in this terrible judgment. For also the child of God has “members” upon the earth which are called: “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry,” Col. 8:5. In short: if we are to accept the judgment of God on the natural state of man, we will have to humble ourselves too much. That is the reason why we have such nonsensical appraisal of man in our day.
Instead, beloved reader, let us accept the terrible judgment of God upon our vile nature and seek our salvation outside of ourselves in Jesus Christ. And even that seeking without our nature is a gift of grace. Let us realize that.
Does this grace find and does this grace change us into a new creature, then everything becomes different. Listen also in this same psalm to a description of that new man that is created in Christ Jesus unto all good works: Those that pray in the morning; those that look up (watch); those that direct their prayer, (set it in order before God’s face); those that come in God’s house; those that worship in fear towards God’s holy temple; they are longing for righteousness; for a straight way (by which they mean God’s way); the righteous; they that put their trust in God; that love His name; that cry and call God their King and their God!
What a tremendous contrast between the wicked and the righteous.
And in order that all ground for pride and arrogance be taken away from us, let me point to a small but very significant earmark of the righteous. Verse 7 tells us that all the endeavor unto goodness happens in the multitude of God’s mercy and in His fear! It shows us that our entire walk is in the sphere of God’s own virtue, the virtue that is communicated to us. It is the urge of the Holy Spirit Who is given unto us in the moment of regeneration and never leaves us again. It takes away all ground for boasting and exalts God in His glorious work of redemption.
Does a man walk this way of righteousness, then he may be assumed of a wondrous protection. For we read in the same psalm that he will be defended by God; that he will be blessed of God and that God’s favor shall encompass him as with a shield.
Let us then not try and be wiser than God or let us not charge God foolishly. He knows better than we.
It is the Holy Spirit of God, Who even searches the deep things of God, that has searched the heart of man. And if that Spirit tells us that the very inward part of natural man is very wickedness, let us then not turn around and say: Well, that may be so but we also find in man very much that is commendable, good, virtuous and righteousness. If need be, for the sake of discourse among men, we will speak of civil righteousness of the godless, but we would plead with you to understand that when we say this we do not mean that this so-called righteousness is goodness before God. And also that this civil righteousness, so-called, is abomination before the Almighty. For God does never see the deed apart from the deep heart. He connects heart, word and deed and judges that everything breathes cruelty, deceit, abomination and wickedness. When God shall cause natural man to stand in the light of His Eye in the day of days, then He will show to the satisfaction of every man, be he saint or sinner; to the devil and his angels and to the light-spirits about the throne—that this natural man in the so many thousand years of his idle existence on earth has produced nothing, but horrible iniquity, so that when they shall be driven to outer darkness the punishment shall fit the crime.
This yet: if you see this now in prospect through the light of Spirit and Word, you will chant in unison with David: Thou shalt destroy them! Or, with Asaph: Thou shalt despise their image!
But cry thou aloud thou inhabitants of Zion! For great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee!
“En zoo komt God tot Zijn eer!”