The approach we will take, as we examine the fifth Psalm, is to first consider
its form. Next we will review the passage itself, and last we will see how,
and how not, to apply it within our own walk. Yes, you did hear me correctly,
"how not to apply it," for this is the first of the imprecatory prayers,
a concept which will be explained further on.
Now, unlike some of the earlier psalms, this one is much more general in
focus. It doesn't seem to relate to a specific incident in the life of David.
(In fact, there is some thought that he might not have even written it, but
it was sung to one of the familiar tunes of the day, written by him.) Keep
in mind, it really doesn't matter who wrote each individual Psalm. What is
important is that the Holy Spirit inspired the authors and chose which to
include in Scripture.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correction and training in righteousness, so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped for every good work"
(2 Timothy 3:16).
It would be helpful to have an outline of the Psalm, to further our
understanding, so I have borrowed the one given by H. C. Leupold2
and modified it slightly.
A plea to be heard Verses 1-3
The wicked may not abide in the presence of God, but God's true children
may. Verses 4-7
A prayer for guidance, and condemnation of the wicked. Verses 8-12
The overall focus of the poem is the need for moral standing before the Lord.
The need is understood from the context of an Old Testament perspective.
The Psalmist knew God was just and required that mankind meet His standards.
This is still the case today. Where individuals reject the sacrifice of Christ
as payment for sin, they place themselves in the same position as the wicked
of the Old Testament.
Through the birth of Jesus, God has provided a way for people to be restored
to a relationship with Him. Nevertheless, He has not changed His standards,
and He will not accept anyone who has rejected Christ. As Jesus said:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes
to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my
Father as well" (John 14:6-7).
God is not a different God in the Old Testament than He is in the New.