Psalm 5

Psalm 5[a]

Morning Prayer for Divine Help

1 For the director.[b] With flutes. A psalm of David.

2 Listen to my words, O Lord;
pay heed to my sighs.
3 Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God;
for to you I pray.
4 O Lord, at daybreak[c] you hear my voice;
at daybreak I bring my petition before you
and await your reply.
5 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil cannot remain in your presence.
6 The arrogant shrink before your gaze;
you hate all who do evil.
7 You destroy all who tell lies;
the Lord detests the violent and the deceitful.
8 But I will enter your house
because of your great kindness,[d]
and I will bow down in your holy temple,
filled with awe of you.
9 Lead me in your ways of righteousness, O Lord,
for I am surrounded by enemies;
make your path straight before me.[e]
10 For there is nothing trustworthy in their mouth;[f]
their heart devises treacherous schemes.
Their throat is a wide open grave;
with their tongue they utter flattery.
11 Punish them, O God;
may their intrigues result in their downfall.
Cast them out because of their many transgressions,
for they have rebelled against you.[g]
12 But may all who take refuge in you rejoice;
may they shout for joy forever.
Grant them your protection
so that those who love your name[h] may rejoice in you.
13 Truly, you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you surround them with your goodwill as with a shield.


  1. Psalm 5:1 This is a morning prayer (see v. 4) in which the psalmist prays for the Lord to hear his prayer and grant a sense of God’s goodness and justice, bestow guidance, punish enemies, and bless the righteous. Broken by tribulation, the persecuted man appeals for the justice of God against his own enemies. Christians must spiritualize the call for vengeance, hating evil rather than those who do evil. To love God is to choose the cause of justice and bear the witness of a purified joy.
  2. Psalm 5:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation.
  3. Psalm 5:4 At daybreak: the morning is the privileged moment for divine favors (see Pss 17:14f; 30:6; 46:6; 59:17). I bring my petition: other possible translations are: “I offer my vows” and “I prepare my offering.”
  4. Psalm 5:8 Kindness: Hebrew, hesed; this word denotes the sentiments that flow from a natural community, family, clan, or society (benevolence, favor). It is also the love of the covenant between the Lord and the community of Israel, regarded as his spouse and child. Finally, it includes the sentiments that are found in each of its members (grace and love on the part of the Lord, and piety on the part of the faithful). See also note on Ps 6:5.
  5. Psalm 5:9 Make your path straight before me: the Greek reads: “Make straight my way before you.”
  6. Psalm 5:10 With mouth, heart, throat, and tongue they spread harm around. Their throat is a wide open grave: their words bring death to their hearers (see Jer 5:16)—a theme cited in Rom 3:13. Heart: see note on Ps 4:8.
  7. Psalm 5:11 This verse reminds us that the so-called imprecatory (or cursing) psalms (see note on Ps 35) have been a problem for Christians from the beginning of the use of the Psalter. Christ instructed Christians to pray for enemies (see Mt 5:44) and gave an example of this on the cross (see Lk 23:34). Yet the psalmists at times call for punishment (even of the most drastic kind) on enemies. Christians may look upon these statements as appeals for strict redress of evil in accord with the divine justice or direct them toward the enemies of their souls, the devil and his minions who are implacable foes of God.
  8. Psalm 5:12 Your name: a name usually designates the person, hence the Lord himself. See also note on Ps 8:2, 10.

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