Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Meditation.—From a root cognate with the word translated meditate in Psalm 1:2, with primary sense of mutter or murmur. Here “whispered prayer,” in contrast to “words” in first clause, and to “voice of my cry” in the next. It echoes clause 1: “while unto thee will I pray” corresponds to “meditation.”Psalm 5:1-2. Consider my meditation — That is, my prayer, as the foregoing and following words show. He calls his prayer his meditation, to signify that it was not the mere labour of his lips, 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 — The sincerity and earnestness of our cry to God will be in proportion to the sense we have of our sins and wants. My King — It is the part and duty of a king to answer the just and humble desires of his subjects; and my God: for unto thee will I pray — To thee alone will I direct all my prayers, for to whom should a sinner pray but to his God? and therefore, from thee alone I expect succour and relief.Psalm 4:1-8 is, "upon Neginoth." As that refers to a musical instrument, so it is probable that this does, and that the idea here is that this psalm was intended particularly for the music-master that had special charge of this instrument, or who presided over those that played on it. Perhaps the idea is that this psalm was specially designed to be accompanied with this instrument. The word here, Nehiloth - נחילות nechı̂ylôth, plural. נחילה nechı̂ylâh, singular - is supposed by Gesenius, Lexicon, to denote a flute, or pipe, as being "perforated," from חלל châlal, to bore." The word occurs only in this place. Very various opinions have been entertained of its meaning. See Hengstenberg, "Com." The Latin Vulgate and the Septuagint understand it as meaning "inheritance" - the same as נחלה nachălâh, and as being somehow designed to refer to the people of God "as" a heritage. Latin Vulgate: In finem pro ca, quae hereditatem consequitur, psalmus David. So the Septuagint - ὑπὲρ τῆς κληρονομούσης huper tēs klēronomousēs. So Luther, Fur das Erbe. What was the precise idea affixed to this it is not very easy to determine. Luther explains it, "according to the title, this is the general idea of the psalm, that the author prays for the inheritance or heritage of God, desiring that the people of God may be faithful to him, and may always adhere to him." The true interpretation, however, is evidently to regard this as an instrument of music, and to consider the psalm as adapted to be sung with the instrument of music specified. Why it was adapted particularly to "that" instrument of music cannot now be determined. Horsley renders it "upon the flutes." Compare Ugolin. Thesau. Ant. Sac.; tom. xxxii. pp. 158-170.
A Psalm of David - See introduction to Psalm 3:1-8.
Give ear to my words, O Lord - We naturally incline the ear toward anyone when we wish to hear distinctly what he says, and we turn away the ear when we do not. The meaning here is, David prayed that God would be attentive to or would regard his prayer. This form of the petition is, that he would attend to his "words" - to what he was about to "express" as his desire. He intended to express only what he wished to be granted.
Consider my meditation - Understand; perceive, for so the word rendered "consider" properly means. He desired that he would regard the real import of what is here called his "meditation;" that is, he wished him not merely to attend to his "words," but to the secret and unexpressed desires of the soul. The idea seems to be that while his words would be sincere and truthful, yet they could not express "all" his meaning. There were desires of the soul which no language could convey - deep, unuttered "groanings" (compare Romans 8:26-27), which could not be uttered in language. There is a difference, however, in rendering the word translated "meditation." Most interpreters regard it as derived from הגה hâgâh, to meditate (see the notes at Psalm 1:2) - and as thus denoting "thought," or "meditation." Gesenius and some others regard it as derived from הגג hāgag, obsolete root - meaning to set on fire, to kindle; and hence, that it means here "heat," fervour of the mind; and then, fervent cry, or prayer. See "Rosenmuiller" also in "loc." DeWette concurs with Gesenius, and supposes that it should be rendered "sigh" or complaint. Prof. Alexander renders it "thought." Horsley renders it, "my sighing," but says he is in doubt whether it refers to an "internal desire of the mind," in opposition to "words" in the former part of the verse, or to a "prayer uttered sotto voce, like the private prayer usually said by every person before he takes his seat in the church" - the "internal motion of the mind toward God." It is not easy to determine the true meaning, but the probability is that it refers to an internal emotion - a fervent, ardent feeling - perhaps finding partial expression in sighs Romans 8:26, but which does not find expression in words, and which words could not convey. He prayed that God would attend to the "whole" desires of the soul - whether expressed or unexpressed.
Ps 5:1-12. Upon Nehiloth—flutes or wind instruments. The writer begs to be heard, on the ground of God's regard for His covenant-people and true worshippers as contrasted with His holy hatred to the wicked. He prays for divine guidance, on account of his watchful, malignant, and deceitful enemies; and for their destruction as being also God's enemies. At the same time he expresses his confidence that God will extend aid to His people.
There are two sorts of prayers - those expressed in words, and the unuttered longings which abide as silent meditations. Words are not the essence but the garments of prayer. Moses at the Red Sea cried to God, though he said nothing. Yet the use of language may prevent distraction of mind, may assist the powers of the soul, and may excite devotion. David, we observe, uses both modes of prayer, and craves for the one a hearing, and for the other a consideration. What an expressive word! "Consider my meditation." If I have asked that which is right, give it to me; if I have omitted to ask that which I most needed, fill up the vacancy in my prayer. "Consider my meditation." Let thy holy soul consider it as presented through my all-glorious Mediator: then regard thou it in thy wisdom, weigh it in the scales, judge thou of my sincerity, and of the true state of my necessities, and answer me in due time for thy mercy's sake! There may be prevailing intercession where there are no words; and alas! there may be words where there is no true supplication. Let us cultivate the spirit of prayer which is even better than the habit of prayer. There may be seeming prayer where there is little devotion. We should begin to pray before we kneel down, and we should not cease when we rise up. 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
consider my meditation; the prayer he had meditated: for meditation is requisite to prayer, and should go before it; which is necessary in order to pray with the understanding; nor should men utter anything rashly and hastily before the Lord: it may design mental prayer, in distinction from vocal prayer, signified by his words before, such as that of Moses at the Red sea, and of Hannah before Eli, Exodus 14:15, 1 Samuel 1:13. The word also signifies inward mourning, and groans; the root from whence this is derived to mourn, and is so rendered in Isaiah 38:14; where Hezekiah compares his prayers to the chattering of a crane and swallow, and the mourning of a dove; and are the same with the unutterable groanings with which the Spirit of God sometimes makes intercession for the saints, Romans 8:26; and which are not hid from God, Psalm 38:9; but are well known to him: he understands the language of a sigh or groan; and so the words may be rendered "understand my moan" (c).<
(a) That is, my vehement prayer and secret complaint and sighings.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1. my meditation] The Heb. word, which occurs again only in Psalm 39:3, may denote either the unspoken prayer of the heart (cp. the cognate verb in Psalm 1:2); or the low, murmuring utterance of brooding sorrow. Cp. Isaiah 38:14. So Jerome, murmur meum.
1–3. Introductory petitions for a favourable hearing.Verse 1. - Give ear to my words, O Lord (comp. Psalm 66:1; Psalm 86:6). Cries of this kind are common with the psalmists, even when they do not express the purport of their prayer. Consider my meditation; or, my silent musing (Kay); comp. Psalm 39:3, where the same word is used. Psalm 49:3; Psalm 62:10; Proverbs 8:4; Isaiah 2:9; Isaiah 5:15, show this distinction. In this and the preceding Psalm David makes as little mention of his degenerate son as he does of the deluded king in the Psalms belonging to the period of his persecution by Saul. The address is directed to the aristocratic party, whose tool Absolom has become. To these he days: till when (עד־מה beside the non-guttural which follows with Segol, without any manifest reason, as in Psalm 10:13; Isaiah 1:5; Jeremiah 16:10), i.e., how long shall my honour become a mockery, namely to you and by you, just as we can also say in Latin quousque tandem dignitas mea ludibrio? The two following members are circumstantial clauses subordinate to the principal clause with עד־מה (similar to Isaiah 1:5; Ew. 341, b). The energetic fut. with Nun parag. does not usually stand at the head of independent clauses; it is therefore to be rendered: since ye love ריק, that which is empty - the proper name for their high rank is hollow appearance - how long will ye pursue after כּזב, falsehood?-they seek to find out every possible lying pretext, in order to trail the honour of the legitimate king in the dust. The assertion that the personal honour of David, not his kingly dignity, is meant by כּבודי, separates what is inseparable. They are eager to injure his official at the same time as his personal reputation. Therefore David appeals in opposition to them (Psalm 4:4) not only to the divine choice, but also to his personal relationship to God, on which that choice is based. The ו of וּדעוּ is, as in 2 Kings 4:41, the ו of sequence: so know then. The Hiph. חפלה (from פּלה equals פּלא, cogn. פּלל, prop. to divide) to make a separation, make a distinction Exodus 9:4; Exodus 11:7, then to distinguish in an extraordinary and remarkable way Exodus 8:18, and to show Psalm 17:7, cf. Psalm 31:22, so that consequently what is meant is not the mere selection (בּחר), but the remarkable selection to a remarkable position of honour (lxx, Vulg. mirificavit, Windberg translation of the Psalms gewunderlichet). לו belongs to the verb, as in Psalm 135:4, and the principal accent lies on חסיד: he whom Jahve Himself, not men, has thus remarkably distinguished is a חסיד, a pious man, i.e., either, like the Syriac חסידא equals רהימא: God's favourite, or, according to the biblical usage of the language (cf. Psalm 12:2 with Isaiah 17:1), in an active signification like פּליט, פּריץ, and the like: a lover of God, from חסד (root חס Arab. ḥs, stringere, whence ḥassa to curry, maḥassa a curry-comb) prop. to feel one's self drawn, i.e., strongly affected (comp. ḥiss is mental impression), in Hebrew, of a strong ardent affection. As a חסיד he does not call upon God in vain, but finds a ready hearing. Their undertaking consequently runs counter to the miraculously evidenced will of God and must fail by reason of the loving relationship in which the dethroned and debased one stands to God.
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