Matthew Poole's Commentary
To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth, A Psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.Nehiloth: this is no where else used in Scripture. It is generally and probably thought to be a term belonging to music, and to signify either some kind of tune, or rather an instrument, and particularly a wind-instrument, as Neginoth in the title of the last Psalm signified
This Psalm supposeth David to be in some great distress or trouble, either from Saul, or from Absalom, or some of their courtiers.
David earnestly beseecheth God to hear his prayer, Psalm 5:1-3; and assureth himself of God’s justice against his enemies, Psalm 5:4-6. Professeth his faith in God, Psalm 5:7, he prayeth him to guide his goings, Psalm 5:8. He exclaims against his enemies’ cruelty, Psalm 5:9; and prayeth God to destroy them, Psalm 5:10, but to preserve the godly, Psalm 5:11,12.
i.e. My prayer, as the words foregoing and following show; which he calls his
meditation, to note that it was not a lip prayer only, but that it proceeded from and was accompanied with the deepest thoughts and most fervent affections of his soul.
Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.It is the part and duty of a king to answer the just and humble desires of his subjects. To thee alone will I direct all my prayers, and therefore from thee alone I expect succour and relief.
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.In the morning; either,
1. Metaphorically, i.e. early, seasonably, in a time when thou wilt be found, and art ready to hear. Or,
2. Properly, every morning. As soon as I awake, I am still with thee, as he saith, Psalm 139:18. The first thing that I do is to pray to thee, I neither neglect nor delay that work. But this is not spoken exclusively as to his other times of prayer, as appears from Psalm 55:17; but only eminently, to show his constancy, diligence, and eagerness in the work.
My prayer; or, mine eyes; which may be well understood out of the following word, which is usual in Scripture. Or, it, (so it is only a defect of the pronoun, which is most frequent,) to wit, my voice, last mentioned; or, which is equivalent, my words, which is also understood with this very verb, Job 33:5, and is expressed with it, Job 32:14. And the verb here and there used is very emphatical, and notes his great care and exactness so to
direct, or order, or compose himself and his prayers in such a manner as was most pleasing to God.
Will look up, to wit, unto thee (as he now said) for help. The word implies a confident, and withal a patient, expectation of relief, as Psalm 130:6 Micah 7:7 Habakkuk 2:1. See also Psalm 145:15 Acts 3:4.
For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.For; or, but; or, surely.
In wickedness; or, in wicked men. Thou dost not approve of nor delight in them, or in their prayers, but dost hate and wilt destroy them, as it here follows: compare Proverbs 17:15. And this he saith partly for the conviction and discouragement of his enemies, who were such; and partly for his own vindication, to show that he was not such a wicked man as they falsely and maliciously represented him.
Dwell with thee, i.e. have any friendship, or fellowship, or quiet abode with thee, as those that dwell together usually have one with another.
The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.The foolish; or, the madmen, as the word properly signifies, as Ecclesiastes 2:2,12 7:7 10:13 Isaiah 44:25, i.e. wicked men, as the next words explain it; who are indeed morally and really madmen, in fighting with the Lord God Almighty, and in exposing themselves to such dreadful hazards and mischiefs for such mean and momentary advantages. In thy sight; either in battle against thee, as this phrase is used, Deu 7:24 Joshua 1:5 7:12; or in judgement at thy tribunal, of which see on Psalm 1:5: compare 1 Samuel 6:20 Job 41:10.
All workers of iniquity, i.e. such as make sin their choice, design, and business, giving up themselves to the constant or customary practice of it. Compare Matthew 7:23. Otherwise, in a general sense, there is no man that doth not sin or work iniquity, Ecclesiastes 7:20.
Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.Leasing; or, lies; that make it their business to raise and scatter calumnies and reproaches concerning me; as many did.
The bloody and deceitful man; those who design mischief against me or my friends raider a pretence of kindness; of whom he oft speaks.
But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.I will come, to wit, with holy boldness and confidence, as becomes thy son and servant; whereas mine enemies cannot appear in thy presence with any comfort and safety, Psalm 5:5.
Into thy house, to wit, the tabernacle; from which, though I be now excluded, through the malice and power of mine adversaries, yet thou wilt, I doubt not, restore me to my former opportunities of coming thither to worship thee, which was my constant custom and chief joy.
In the multitude of thy mercy, or, by thy great mercy, i.e. trusting only to thy great mercy for admittance thither, and acceptance there. Or, for or became of thy many mercies to me, for which I will come to pay my thanks and service unto thee.
In thy fear; with a holy dread and reverence of thy majesty, and of thy house, and a due care to please thee in my religious worship, and in the whole course of my life; which he opposeth to the carelessness of his enemies, who came thither so rudely and presumptuously, and with the conscience of such wicked hearts and lives.
Toward thy holy temple; looking towards it, when I cannot come to it. Compare Daniel 6:10. Or, at thy holy temple, i.e. the tabernacle, which is sometimes called by that name.
Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.Lead me; direct my heart, and counsels, and affairs, and all the course and actions of my life.
In thy righteousness; in thy righteous laws; which sometimes are called righteousness, as Psalm 119:172 Matthew 3:15. Or, for, or because of, or according to thy righteousness; which is a phrase and argument frequently used in this Book of Psalms.
Because of mine enemies; either,
1. That I may give them no occasion of slandering me, or religion for my sake. Or rather,
2. Because they are most malicious and mischievous, and withal cunning and treacherous, as he describes them in the next verse, (which he useth as an argument to enforce this petition,) and they lay snares for me, and if thou dost not assist me, will be too hard for me, and will triumph over me; which will reflect dishonour upon thee also.
Thy way, i.e. the way wherein thou wouldst have me to walk, or the course which thou wouldst have me to take; for God’s precepts or counsels are most commonly called his way.
Straight, or plain, or smooth, that I may clearly discern it, and readily walk in it, without mistake, or let, or stumbling, or offence. This was a needful request, because many good men are oft at a loss what their duty is in several circumstances. And God granted this request to David, as in many other things, so in this, that he should not cut off Saul when he had opportunity and instigation to do it, 1 Samuel 24 1Sa 26, but that he should wait till God took him away.
Before my face; to my view and for my walk; for men walk forward, not backward.
For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.They speak one thing, and mean another, and under a pretence of kindness they seek my destruction; which makes it difficult for me to know how I should carry myself to them; wherein therefore I have begged thy direction.
Their throat; either,
1. Metonymically; their speech coming out of their throat, though smooth and subtle, yet is most pernicious. Or,
2. Properly; their throat and mouth are wide opened, ready to devour all that come within their reach. A metaphor from wild beasts gaping for the prey.
They flatter with their tongue; they make show of piety and friendship, that they may more easily deceive and destroy me.
Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.Destroy thou them, Heb. Hold them guilty, i.e. condemn and punish them. Or, make them to offend, to wit, in their counsels, as it follows; so as they may either be given up to bad and foolish counsels, or fail in the execution of their wise or crafty counsels. Or, make them desolate, as the word is used, Ezekiel 6:6 Joel 1:18.
Let them fall by their own counsels i.e. make their counsels not only unsuccessful against me, but also destructive to themselves. Or, from their &c., i.e. let them fall short of their aims and designs. Or, because of their counsels, which are ungodly and unjust, and so deserve destruction.
Cast them out; out of thy land, and from among thy people, whom they either infect or molest by their wicked courses. In, or for, or because of, as before.
Against thee; against thy authority and declared will concerning my advancement to the throne; which divers Israelites opposed against their own consciences. See 2 Samuel 3:8-10.
But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.Those that put their trust in thee; that dare rely upon thy word and promise when all human hopes and refuges fail; which was oft the case of David and his followers.
Rejoice; let them have cause of great joy from thy love and care of them, and because thou defendest them, as it follows.
Thy name, i.e. thy majesty, thy word, and worship, and glory; all which is called God’s name in Scripture. David doth not confine his prayer to his party, but prays for all good men, though by their own mistakes, Or other men’s artifices, some of them might now be in a state of opposition against him.
For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.i.e. Thou art resolved, and hast engaged thyself by promise and covenant, to bless them; and therefore my prayer for them is agreeable to thy will.
With favour; with thy love and gracious providence.
Wilt thou compass him as with a shield, i.e. keep him safe on every side.