Psalm 5:3
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
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(3) The daily morning sacrifice sees the Psalmist in the Temple. The word “direct,” or, better, prepare, is the same employed in Leviticus 1:8; Leviticus 1:12; Leviticus 6:12, of the priest laying out the wood for the sacrifice, or the parts of the offering itself, and suggest that the author may himself have been a priest. The word “offering” should be supplied, instead of “prayer.” Henry Vaughan’s fine hymn—

“When first thine eyes unveil, give thy soul leave

To do the like”—

was probably suggested by this verse.

Look up.—The Hebrew is from the root which forms “Mizpeh,” or “watch-tower.” The psalmist looks up for the answer to his prayer as the seer on his tower (Habakkuk 2:1) looked up for his inspiration. The usual attitude of prayer in the East was then, as now, either standing or prostrate, the hands lifted up or spread out (Exodus 9:33; Psalm 28:2; Psalm 134:2; Psalm 141:2). To raise the eyes was not so usual. Virgil, describing the capture of Cassandra by the Greeks, makes her look up, but only because her hands were bound.

“Ad coelum tendens ardentia lumina frustra,

Lumina—nam teneras arcebant vincula palmas.”

Psalm 5:3-4. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning — That is, early, seasonably, in a time when thou wilt be found, and art ready to hear; or rather, every morning. As soon as I awake, I am still with thee, as he says Psalm 139:18. The first thing that I do is to pray to thee. For, or but, or surely, thou art not a God that hast pleasure in wickedness — Or, in wicked men. Thou dost not approve of, or delight in them, or in their prayers; neither shall evil dwell with thee — Have any friendship or fellowship with thee.

5:1-6 God is a prayer-hearing God. Such he has always been, and he is still as ready to hear prayer as ever. The most encouraging principle of prayer, and the most powerful plea in prayer, is, to look upon him as our King and our God. David also prays to a sin-hating God. sin is folly, and sinners are the greatest of all fools; fools of their own making. Wicked people hate God; justly are they hated of him, and this will be their endless misery and ruin. Let us learn the importance of truth and sincerity, in all the affairs of life. Liars and murderers resemble the devil, and are his children, therefore it may well be expected that God should abhor them. These were the characters of David's enemies; and such as these are still the enemies of Christ and his people.My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord - The voice of prayer. Compare the notes at Psalm 3:5. Probably he refers here to a general habit of praying in the morning, though he makes a particular reference to his circumstances at that time. Compare Psalm 55:17. The psalmist felt, doubtless, that while it was a general duty and privilege to call upon God with the return of each morning, there was a special reason for it in the circumstances in which he then was. See the introduction to the psalm. He was then surrounded by enemies, and was in danger, and it was only in God that he could hope for protection even for a single day. The propriety of looking to God in the morning by prayer commends itself to any reflecting mind. Who knows what a day may bring forth? Who knows what temptations may await him? Who can protect himself from the dangers which may encompass him? Who can enable us to discharge the duties which are incumbent on us every day? Feeble, helpless, sinful, prone to err, in a world of temptation, and surrounded by dangers alike when we see them and when we do not, there is an obvious fitness in looking to God each morning for his guidance and protection; and the resolution of the psalmist here should be the firm purpose of every man.

In the morning - Regularly; each morning.

Will I direct my prayer unto thee - Margin, as in Hebrew, "set in order." The word used here - ערך ‛ârak - means properly to place in a row, to put in order, to arrange, e. g., to place wood upon the altar Genesis 22:9; Leviticus 1:7; to arrange the showbread on the table Exodus 40:23; Leviticus 24:6, Leviticus 24:8. There is, not improbably, an allusion to these customs in the use of the word here; and the meaning may be, that his prayer would be a regularly arranged service before God. It would be a kind of morning sacrifice, and it would be arranged and performed with a suitable regard to the nature of the service - the fact that it was rendered to the great God. There would be a devout regard to propriety - a serious and solemn attention to the duties involved in the act as the worship of a holy God. Prayer should not be rash; it should not be performend negligently or with a light spirit; it should engage the profound thought of the soul, and it should be performed with the same serious regard to time and to propriety which was demanded in the solemn and carefully prescribed rites of the ancient temple-service.

And will look up - The word used here - צפה tsâphâh - means, properly, to look about, to view from a distance. In Isaiah 21:5, it refers to a tower which has a wide prospect. Compare Sol 7:4. The idea here is properly that he would watch, narrowly and carefully (as one does who is stationed on a tower), for some token of divine favor - for some answer to his prayer - for some divine interposition - for some intimation of the divine will. This is, perhaps, equivalent to the Saviour's repeated command to "watch and pray." The notion of looking "up" is not necessarily in the word used here, but it indicates the state of mind where there is deep and careful solicitude as to the answer to prayer.

3. direct—literally, "set in order," as the showbread was placed or set in order (Ex 40:23).3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Observe, this is not so much a prayer as a resolution, "'My voice shalt thou hear,' I will not be dumb, I will not be silent, I will not withhold my speech, I will cry to thee, for the fire that dwells within compels me to pray." We can sooner die than live without prayer. None of God's children are possessed with a dumb devil.

"In the morning." This is the fittest time for intercourse with God. An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening. While the dew is on the grass, let grace drop upon the soul. Let us give to God the mornings of our days and the morning of our lives. Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night. Devotion should be both the morning star and the evening star.

If we merely read our English version, and want an explanation of these two sentences, we find it in the figure of an archer, "I will direct my prayer unto thee, "I will put my prayer upon the bow, I will direct it towards heaven, and then when I have shot up my arrow, 1 will look up to see where it has gone. But the Hebrew has a still fuller meaning than this - "I will direct my prayer." It is the word that is used for the laying in order of the wood and the pieces of the victim upon the altar, and it is used also for the putting of the shewbread upon the table. It means just this: "I will arrange my prayer before thee;" I will lay it out upon the altar in the morning, just as the priest lays out the morning sacrifice. I will arrange my prayer; or, as old Master Trapp has it, "I will marshal up my prayers, "I will put them in order, call up all my powers, and bid them stand in their proper places, that I may pray with all my might, and pray acceptably.

"And will look up," or, as the Hebrew might better be translated, "'I will look out,' I will look out for the answer; after I have prayed, I will expect that the blessing shall come." It is a word that is used in another place where we read of those who watched for the morning. So will I watch for thine answer, O my Lord! I will spread out my prayer like the victim on the altar, and I will look up, and expect to receive the answer by fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice.

Two questions are suggested by the last part of this verse. Do we not miss very much of the sweetness and efficacy of prayer by a want of careful meditation before it, and of hopeful expectation after it? We too often rush into the presence of God without forethought or humility. We are live men who present themselves before a king without a petition, and what wonder is it that we often miss the end of prayer? We should be careful to keep the stream of meditation always running; for this is the water to drive the mill of prayer. It is idle to pull up the flood-gates of a dry brook, and then hope to see the wheel revolve. Prayer without fervency is like hunting with a dead dog, and prayer without preparation is hawking with a blind falcon. Prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit, but he works by means. God made man, but he used the dust of the earth as a material: the Holy Ghost is the author of prayer, but he employs the thoughts of a fervent soul as the gold with which to fashion the vessel. Let not our prayers and praises be the flashes of a hot and hasty brain, but the steady burning of a well-kindled fire.

But, furthermore, do we not forget to watch the result of our supplications? We are like the ostrich, which lays her eggs and looks not for her young. We sow the seed, and are too idle to seek a harvest. How can we expect the Lord to open the windows of his grace, and pour us out a blessing, if we will not open the windows of expectation and look up for the promised favour? Let holy preparation link hands with patient expectation, and we shall have far larger answers to our prayers.

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.

My voice shall thou hear in the morning, O Lord,.... These words may be considered either as expressing the confidence of the psalmist, that the Lord would hear and answer him, and that in the morning, every morning, as soon and as often as he prayed; or that he would hear him early, quickly, speedily, seasonably, and at the best time; or else as declaring what he would do in consequence of his resolution to pray to the Lord in Psalm 5:2; he would pray to him every morning: the morning is a proper time for prayer, both to return thanks to God for refreshing sleep and rest, for preservation from dangers by fire, by thieves and murderers, and for renewed mercies in the morning; as also to pray to God to keep from evil and dangers the day following; to give daily food, and to succeed in business and the employments of life; and for a continuation of every mercy, temporal and spiritual. God should be served and sought in the first place; and so to do looks as if God was with his people, and they with him, when they awake in the morning. The Targum and Arabic version consider the words as a petition, and render them, "Hear (d) in the morning, O Lord, my voice", or "my petition"; and so bear the same sense as the other petitions;

in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee; or "set it in order" (e): not so much respecting the order of words, the method of prayer, which is sometimes very broken and confused, and yet regarded by God; but in allusion either to the shewbread, placed in order on the table, which was typical of Christ's continual intercession for his people, Exodus 40:4; or to the offering of incense and other sacrifices, which when offered were put in order upon the altar; and to which prayer is compared, Psalm 141:2. Or the words may be rendered, "I will stand before thee in the morning", as the Arabic version; or, "I will present unto thee", as the Septuagint; that is, myself; see Job 1:6, Romans 12:1; though the supplement, "my prayer", seems to be a good one; and so the words are supplied by the Jewish commentators (f);

and will look up; or "out" (g) as out of a watch tower, Habakkuk 2:1; to see if help is coming, and for an answer of prayer: the phrase is expressive of hope, expectation, faith, and confidence, that an answer would be returned; and therefore the psalmist determines to look upwards to heaven, whither he directed his prayer, and from whence the answer must come; and to look out from his watch tower, where he was waiting for it, and to continue patiently expecting it till he had it: and the ground of his confidence were the nature and perfections of God, particularly his purity and holiness, as appears from Psalm 5:4.

(d) "audi", Vatablus, Gejerus. (e) "disponam", Montanus, Michaelis; "praeparabo", Pagninus, Musculus; "ordinabo", Piscator, Gejerus. (f) Jarchi, Aben Ezra, Kimchi, & Ben Melech in loc. (g) "speculabor", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Michaelis; "speculatorus", Junius & Tremellius.

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will {b} look up.

(b) Or wait, with patience and trust till I am heard.

3. O Lord, in the morning shalt thou hear my voice;

In the morning will I order my prayer unto thee, and will keep watch. (R.V.).

‘In the morning’ is repeated with emphasis. The first thought of the day is prayer. cp. Psalm 55:17, Psalm 88:13, Psalm 59:16, Psalm 92:2, Psalm 57:8.

will I direct] Better, as R.V., will I order. The word means to arrange, and is used of setting in order the pieces of wood (Genesis 22:9; Leviticus 1:7), or the parts of the sacrifice (Leviticus 1:8), upon the altar. One of the first duties of the priests in the morning was to prepare the wood for the morning sacrifice, which was offered at sunrise (Leviticus 6:12; Numbers 28:4). Hence some commentators think that the Psalmist intends to compare his daily morning prayer to the daily morning sacrifice. Cp. Psalm 141:2. But the word ‘order’ has no exclusive or even predominant sacrificial reference; and we should probably rather compare the expressions ‘to order one’s words’ or ‘one’s cause’ in Job 32:14; Job 23:4, and the more closely parallel use of the word without an object in Job 33:5; Job 37:19.

and will look up] Rather, as R.V., will keep watch, for an answer, like a sentinel on the look out (2 Samuel 18:24). Cp. Micah 7:7; Habakkuk 2:1.

Verse 3. - My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord (compare "At evening, and at morning, and at noonday will I pray, and he shall hear my voice," Psalm 55:17; and see also Psalm 59:16; Psalm 88:13; Psalm 119:147). The appointment of daily morning and evening sacrifice (Numbers 28:4) pointed out morn and eve as times especially appropriate for prayer. A natural instinct suggested the same idea (Job 1:5). In the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee. The repetition adds force to the implied injunction (comp. Psalm 130:6). The word translated "direct my prayer" means "arrange" or "set in order," as the priests did the altar before a sacrifice (Leviticus 1:7, 8, 12; Leviticus 6:5; Numbers 28:4). Prayer is viewed as a sort of sacrificial act. And will look up; or, look out - keep on the watch - in expectation of my prayer being granted (see the Revised Version). Psalm 5:3(Heb.: 5:2-4) The introit: Prayer to be heard. The thoughts are simple but the language is carefully chosen. אמרים is the plur. of אמר (אמר), one of the words peculiar to the poetic prophetical style. The denominative האזין (like audire equals aus, οὖς dare) belongs more to poetry than prose. הגיג (like אביב) or מחיר (like מחיר) occurs only in two Psalms לדוד, viz., here and Psalm 34:4. It is derived from הגג equals הגה (vid., Psalm 1:2) and signifies that which is spoken meditatively, here praying in rapt devotion. Beginning thus the prayer gradually rises to a vox clamoris. שׁועי from שׁוע, to be distinguished from שׁוּעי (inf. Pi.) Psalm 28:2; Psalm 31:23, is one word with the Aram. צוח, Aethiop. צוּע (to call). On הקשׁיב used of intent listening, vid., Psalm 10:17. The invocation מלכּי ואלהי, when it is a king who utters it, is all the more significant. David, and in general the theocratic king, is only the representative of the Invisible One, whom he with all Israel adores as his King. Prayer to Him is his first work as he begins the day. In the morning, בּקר (as in Psalm 65:8 for בּבּקר, Psalm 88:13), shalt Thou hear my cry, is equivalent to my cry which goes forth with the early morn. Hupfeld considers the mention of the morning as only a "poetical expression" and when getting rid of the meaning prima luce, he also gets rid of the beautiful and obvious reference to the daily sacrifice. The verb ערך is the word used of laying the wood in order for the sacrifice, Leviticus 1:7, and the pieces of the sacrifice, Leviticus 1:8, Leviticus 1:12; Leviticus 6:5, of putting the sacred lamps in order, Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 24:3., and of setting the shew-bread in order, Exodus 40:23; Leviticus 24:8. The laying of the wood in order for the morning offering of a lamb (Leviticus 6:5 [Leviticus 6:12], cf. Numbers 28:4) was one of the first duties of the priest, as soon as the day began to dawn; the lamb was slain before sun-rise and when the sun appeared above the horizon laid piece by piece upon the altar. The morning prayer is compared to this morning sacrifice. This is in its way also a sacrifice. The object which David has in his mind in connection with אערך is תּפלּתי. As the priests, with the early morning, lay the wood and pieces of the sacrifices of the Tamı̂d upon the altar, so he brings his prayer before God as a spiritual sacrifice and looks out for an answer (צפּה speculari as in Habakkuk 2:1), perhaps as the priest looks out for fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice, or looks to the smoke to see that it rises up straight towards heaven.
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