Commenting on Psalm 4, I recently quoted Bill Hybels speaking of our God as a relational God. He says: “I began to understand that God was near to me, and that a relationship with me was on his mind.” Psalm 5 is another that reveals this relationship . As you read it, you get the feeling that the psalmist, King David, is not just involved in the religious activity called prayer (common to most religions of the world), then getting it over and done with so he could move onto doing something real and practical and useful. In fact, one gets the impression from reading this psalm that David considers prayer to YAHWEH as the most important, the most realistic, the most practical and the most useful thing he can do in the circumstances he finds himself in. He says:
“Listen to my passionate prayer. Can’t you hear my groaning? Don’t you hear how I’m crying out to you?” (5:1-2a)
Now that’s passionate! Ever felt like that, but too afraid to speak to God in such a way? But how could David talk like this to the one he then calls “My King and my God” (5:2) Simple. It’s all about relationship. He seems to presume that if you can’t be passionate and just plain honest with the “lover of your soul” then what’s the use of following and worshiping Him at all.
But, you might ask, how was David even qualified to talk to God like this anyway. As Wilcock puts it: “There was much in the life of David…that was not at all [what we would consider as] righteous. But his heart was God’s and he bowed to God’s authority.” He continues, “The ground on which God declares people guiltless [or righteous]…is not their goodness…No, in the Old Testament as in the New the ground of one’s justification is simply faith in a God of grace…It is the entrusting of oneself to this God which is ‘counted…for righteousness’ (Genesis 15:6).” (see references # 5)
And so David, despite God’s present silence and perceived inaction, keeps it up anyway. “At each and every sunrise you will hear my voice, as I prepare my sacrifice of prayer to you. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar, and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.” (5:3) Broyles suggests that “no ritual conveys the notions of respect for and dependence on God more strongly than that of waiting.” (see references # 4) God’s not deaf to our prayers, so, like David, keep praying and waiting and never give up. God can be trusted to answer in His time and in His way.
And like David, believe. “Know” that our God is “never pleased with lawlessness [or wrong of any kind]”, eventually he “will make an end of all those who lie…[to] hypocrisy…[to] all who love violence” (5:4-6). “Know” that He “will welcome” you, because you are “covered by…[His] covenant of mercy and love.” (5:7) Know and trust.
I remember crying out to God when we were faced with a particular crisis. My wife, Miriam and I, with our two eldest children (then aged 2 and 4), had just completed our missionary training and had returned to Perth. We had been accepted to join the mission agency we had applied to and were heading for Pakistan. As usual, there were things to do in preparation, including routine health checks. That’s when things changed. Miriam’s chest X-ray revealed, what looked like, potentially, a rather large cancerous tumour on her lung and so further tests were organised. For these she needed to be admitted to hospital and so I was left with the care of the children and what seemed, the very real threat of possibly losing their mother and my beloved wife after only 6 years of marriage.
Believe me, my prayers were pretty passionate during that time. “But God, you called us to serve you overseas! We have gone through all the training! What about the children? What about our marriage?” I don’t quite remember all the details, but prior to the final diagnosis, God spoke words of comfort and reassurance to me and enabled me to simply trust him. Praise God, what appeared so sinister turned out, after numerous tests, to be quite benign.
I realize that this is not always the way things turn out for some who face the threat of such things as cancer in themselves or in their loved ones, but for us it was a case of being able to say to God, “Lord, how wonderfully you bless the righteous. Your favour wraps around each one and covers them under you canopy of kindness and joy.” (5:12)
Whatever the result of our crying out to God, it is possible, not in ourselves, but just because of who he is, and due to the desire he has to be in relationship with us, to be even able to “sing and rejoice”, the privilege of all “lover[s] of [His] name.” (5:11) And then one day, we will “burst forth with endless joy” in his presence for ever more (5:11). “Joy is to have a central place in [our] pilgrimage with God.” (Broyle)
Father, what a privilege to be in a right relationship (“righteous”) with you because of all that Jesus has done on the cross for us. Thank you that in Jesus’ Name we can draw near to you with confidence, and cry out to you passionately. Hallelujah! So, “Lord, lead me in the pathways of your pleasure just like you promised me you would…Smooth out your road in front of me, straight and level so I will know where to walk.” (5:8)