We, the Wicked (Psalm 5:3-6)

Oh Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;

In the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
    evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
    you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
    the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

In verses 1 and 2 David asks God to hear his distress. He clearly is full of emotion and he asks God to hear his emotion and consider him in his pain.

He continues his prayer by sharing with God his intention to persevere daily in coming to him.

“In the morning” is not so much a statement of when one must cry out to God or have a time of devotions, as much as it is a way of communicating that David will not give up, his cries will not be short lived, God will regularly, daily, be hearing from him. David would continue to walk in and demonstrate his faith even amidst doubt by his daily perseverance in his crying out his God.

In addition to daily prayer, David also mentions a daily sacrifice followed by a watching.

    “in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch”

 So, God, daily will hear David’s voice, will witness David’s sacrifice and David will wait and watch to see what happens. Why is David watching? To see God’s response to his cry, to see God’s response to his sacrifice. Our God is not far off. Our God responds to those who cry to him…David knew that, so he watched…expectantly.

David goes on but at this point he seems to switch direction abruptly. He writes,

“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
    evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
    you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
    the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”

For us this seems, like I said, a confusing switch in topic- it was to me anyway, and I had to sit with it for a long time. But I kept going back to the word “FOR” because this showed me David was connecting these thoughts of God’s response to the wicked with his prior thoughts about daily sacrifice. He is answering the question of why he daily cried out to the Lord and prepared a daily sacrifice.

-Because God doesn’t delight in wickedness.

-Evil may not dwell with God

-The boastful will not last in his presence

-God hates all evildoers

-He destroys those who speak lies

-He abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man

For all of these reasons, David came to God daily and prepared a sacrifice.

David prepared a sacrifice because the people he describes in verses 4-6 are not just a description of all the evil people out there they are also a description of David himself.

I think our gut reaction, especially those of us in the church, tend to read verses like this and say… “this is describing all of them out there, not me…” But David knew he was one of them out there. Take a moment to think about David…David used his position of power to go collect and sleep with a woman he saw and wanted, and then when he got her pregnant he lied about and hid his sin, and when he realized he wasn’t going to be able to deceive her husband, he used his power to get him killed. In addition to this, David was prohibited by God from building the temple because he was a man who had shed much blood (I Chronicles 22:8). David also, in pride and self-sufficiency took a census of Israel and Israel paid the costly price in the form many lives lost, for his sin. So, let’s see here…that covers, pride and boasting, it covers lies and deceit, and it covers murder and blood-thirst.

David knew he was not better than his description of the evil and wicked man.

David prepared a sacrifice to God because he knew his sin and he knew sin required sacrifice. This sacrifice would have been the burnt offering which was offered twice daily- once in the morning and once in the evening. This daily sacrifice points to the Lamb who was slain for us, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.

“The New Testament views all the old covenant sacrifices as types of the death of Christ. The different sacrifices bring out different aspects of the significance of his death. Lambs sacrificed every morning and evening were the most typical victim, so Jesus is called ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). Indeed, he died at the time of the evening sacrifice.” (1)

Today, we, the liars, the deceitful, the bloodthirsty, the evildoers, the wicked, come before God daily not in our own self-righteousness, not through convincing ourselves that David isn’t talking about us in this difficult to read passage, but through the once for all sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross through which the Father draws us near to himself and invites us into his presence.

At first look this passage can make us want to run from this God who hates the evil-doer. It’s a strong statement…one I continue to wrestle with and will, Lord willing write about in greater depth later. But for now, I want to encourage you that I believe these kinds of passages are not meant to make us run from God, they are meant to show us a God of incredible mercy, a God who has made a way for the sinner to be made sons and daughters. A God who ate with sinners, who befriended sinners, who talked with sinners, who touched them, healed them, cried with them, and died for them. This is the same God of Psalm 5, so see your sin for what it is, and then draw near through the sacrifice of the Lamb as David did.


(1) Wenham, G. J. (1981). Numbers: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, p. 220). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Asking God to Listen (Psalm 5:1-2)

Psalm 5:1-2

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
    consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
    my King and my God,
    for to you do I pray.

David is asking God to hear him, to REALLY hear him.

He asks God to, give ear, consider, give attention to…to what? My words. My groaning. The sound of my cry.

David is asking God to pay attention to his distress…to hear his words as he describes his distress and not to just hear his words but to hear the emotion with which he speaks, to hear his groaning, to hear the sounds he makes in between his words as they are interrupted by his own inability to stop crying.

Why does David ask God to hear him? Doesn’t he have good enough theology to know that God is everywhere and hears everything? I’m sure he did. And yet all through the Psalms we see David asking again and again for God to hear him. Why?

One possibility is that while David intellectually knew that God could hear him, he may not have FELT like God was listening to him, and his asking for God to listen is simply a very human response to the feeling that God was absent. And this is why I love the Psalms. Through David’s cry God gives us both permission and a pattern. He gives us permission to cry out to him in honesty about how we feel. About our doubts that he is hearing us or seeing our situation. But then he gives us a pattern to follow. A pattern of coming to him in the midst of that doubt and expressing our need for him to listen, to consider, and to pay attention to us in our distress. Our very asking is not just a confession of doubt but a step of faith that can cut though the doubt and remind us that God does indeed hear us.

As a mom I can usually discern the sound of my kids cry before I even see them or see specifically what they are crying about. I can tell an angry cry from a hurt cry…and I can tell a cry that has both sad and mad in it and I can tell them apart from a cry that is pretending to be distressed as part of their play. I can also usually tell each kids cry apart from the other. Our Father is an amazing parent. His ability to hear and discern our cries, his compassion for the pain behind our groaning, his understanding of our weaknesses and fears and doubts and insecurities are infinitely greater than a mom’s ability to understand the cry of her children. If you are hurting, if you are doubting, if you are confused, insecure, anxious, angry, guilty…cry out to the one who made you- cry out to your parent, your Father. Cry out in humility knowing you desperately need your father to hear you, forgive you, heal you, make you secure, give you clarity, fill you with his love, and make you a person that is guarded by his perfect peace. Cry out in faith despite your doubt, knowing that He DOES hear you who come to him in humility and who cast yourself upon his good will and loving-kindness.

I find it incredibly interesting that David, after asking God to hear him, gives God a reason why he should hear him…his reason…”For, to YOU do I pray” (emphasis added by me). It’s easy to skip over this but its profound and full of meaning and that meaning comes out when you listen to the reasons he didn’t give, and who he didn’t address. David didn’t say, “hear me because I come to you in such great faith,” “hear me because I have done x,y,or z.” He says, hear me because I’m talking to YOU and YOU are my King and my God. David is pointing out that he isn’t asking another god, he isn’t asking another earthly king, he isn’t asking his best friend, he isn’t depending upon his own strength or his own kingly authority, He is simply coming to his God and King and asking HIM to hear- because he knows this King of Kings, this God of god’s, is THE one who can help him and who will do so based upon His own divine authority and faithfulness.