Both of these Psalms are regarded generally as Psalms of Lament. Both have the quite frequent musical direction in the superscript. In Psalm 5, some versions say that it is “for the flute(s),” but that is far from settled. The Hebrew word is “Nehiloth.” Easton’s Bible Dictionary says: “It is probably derived from a root meaning “to bore,” “perforate,” and hence denotes perforated wind instruments of all kinds. The psalm may be thus regarded as addressed to the conductor of the temple choir which played on flutes and such-like instruments.”
Psalm 5’s label as a lament, though technically correct is unfortunate. It is ascribed to David, and we do not know the time or circumstances that it occurred in his life, but like many other “Lament” psalms, it does contain pleas for deliverance from enemies. But it is often called a “morning prayer” because of verse three, where he tells the Lord that He hears his voice in the morning as he offers his sacrifice – his worship to the Lord.
It is a reminder for us of the importance of personal prayer, and of worship. Notice the repeated use (six times) of the word “my” in the first three verses – “give ear to my words…the sound of my cry…my King and my God…” In verses 4-6, he acknowledges how God hates wickedness, the deceitful, the proud or boastful – all evildoers – and how they will not stand before him as the righteous (see also Psalm 1:5). Clearly in verse 7, he considers the privilege he has to be able to come and worship Him, because of the Lord’s “steadfast love.”
Psalm 6 is one that many classify as one of penitence, although we are not told of what sin for which he is repenting. It seems clear in verses 2-5 that he is ill – so much so that he believes he could die from whatever the illness might be. It may, as some are often prone to think, that he feared his illness was God’s punishment for that sin (Job’s friends being a case in point). In any case, he is not only gravely ill, and possibly in peril from his enemies (verses 8, 10), but he is also deeply ashamed of whatever wrong he has done. But he knows that now that he has repented, “the Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.”
Both psalms serve as models of prayer and the privilege we have to worship the Lord and to receive His forgiveness and His care in times of trouble because of His “steadfast love” (5:7, 6:9).
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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