Psalm 5

1.  Continuing Leonard’s series on prayer.

2.  I’ve never been comfortable with topical sermons

a.  Easy to lose sense of intent in a Biblical passage

3.  This Psalm interweaves two important aspects of prayer:  repentance and faith

4.  We will explore these themes as the Psalm interweaves the ideas throughout.

5.  As David begins he cries out:

1    Give ear to my words, O LORD;

consider my groaning.

2    Give attention to the sound of my cry,

my King and my God,

for to you do I pray.

a.  David is groaning.

b.  He’s in distress.

c.  He’s asking for God’s attention.

d.  He’s asking for God to take notice of His plight.

6.  Why is David asking for this?

a.  Perhaps it’s strange to us that someone would be asking God to take notice.

b.  Perhaps we have the expectation that God must take notice of us.

c.  When we have a problem we expect the world to stop and take notice.

d.  When we think of turning to God, are we thinking of Him as our God and King or as our servant to do our bidding?

7.  A Sociologist named Christian Smith performed the most comprehensive study of the religious beliefs of youth in America interviewing about 3000 teens several years ago and returning to interview them in 5 year intervals.

a.  He interviewed teens from Mormons to Roman Catholics to Methodists to Baptists to Presbyterians.  All major religious beliefs, liberal and conservative, were represented.

b.  What the study found is that the predominant religion among teens is moralistic, therapeutic, deism.

c.  Another way of saying this is that most young people (and adults too) believe that God wants us to be good,  God wants us to feel good, and God is out there to help whenever we get in a real pinch that we can’t work out ourselves.

d.  You and I are infected by this idea more than we want to admit.

e.  We think we’re mostly OK and that the purpose of religion is that we would be good people.

f.  We think that the primary purpose in life is that we would always feel good about life and our circumstances and that the greatest moral evil is when we don’t get what we want out of life or are suffering.

g.  We also rarely go to God or glorify Him for everything but often go to Him in prayer only when we want Him to help us with something.

h.  Prayer, then, is not so much a means that God would be glorified or that we would repent or that we would be thankful but that God would step in and move heaven and earth to make sure our difficulties are taken care of.

8.  But the real questions are these:

a.  Why must God take notice?  He’s the creator of all things.

b.  Why must God listen to you?  Are you really good?

c.  Why must God give attention to your groaning?  Does He owe you anything?

9.  How you answer those questions in your mind is a good indication of your understanding of the Gospel and its relationship to prayer.

10.  What I want you to pay close attention to is how the Psalmist has confidence that God hears His prayer in verse 3:

3   O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;

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

a.  Does God hear his voice “in the morning” simply because David is praying in the morning?

b.  More is going on here.

c.  Notice that David says that he “prepares a sacrifice”.

d.  What difference does a sacrifice make?

e.  Beloved, a sacrifice makes all the difference in the world.

11.  Now, the reason why a sacrifice is important in your own mind again says a lot about how you understand God.

a.  There are those who look at sacrifice as a sort of incantation or payment by which God is obligated to give the worshipper everything He asks for.

b.  Put in the effort, be fervent, work your spiritual tail off, pray with the right kind of faith, say the right words, kill the correct animal.

c.  In other words, give God the correct change and He bends to the demands of the sacrifice and gives the worshipper what is his due by the spiritual transaction.

d.  This is the default religion of man in His idolatry:  die for Allah, say 10 Hail Marys and Glory Be’s as acts of contrition, sacrifice your child to the Baals, set up your Ashterah pole and God will give you what you ask for.

12.  But that’s not what David means by sacrifice.

a.  David has in mind the sacrifices that God has instituted in His Word.

13.  I know Leviticus can be difficult to follow sometimes but I want to give you a quick Sacrifice 101.

a.  Beginning in Leviticus 1, the Scriptures present several kinds of sacrifices and offerings which God ordained for the worshiper.

b.  These included Burnt Offerings, Grain Offerings, Peace Offerings, Sin Offerings, and Guilt Offerings.

c.  Don’t get hung up on the mechanics but keep this firm principle in mind:  The Burnt Offering was required for every other kind of offering.

d.  Why is this?

e.  Because the Burnt Offering was the sacrifice that dealt with the worshiper as a sinner entering the presence of a holy God.

f.  The Burnt Offering wasn’t for any particular sin that the worshiper had committed but was an offering because the worshiper was a sinner.

g.  We are born in sin from our first parents.  We sin because we are sinners.

h.  The Burnt Offering killed an animal and that act of worship ceremonially cleansed the worshiper in order that me might draw near to God for other acts of worship.

14.  I’m laboring this point because unless we first understand that we don’t have the natural right to approach a Holy God in and of ourselves then we have never really understood the Gospel correctly.

a.  It’s really easy to get caught up in all the rituals of the OT and miss what they were pointing to.

b.  Christ Himself came and, even with the clarity that His death and resurrection provides, many still miss the point.

c.  We are creatures and God is the Creator.

d.  His ways are high above us and He needs to give us ways to understand the gulf that has been created between Him and us by our rebellion in sin.

e.  The sacrificial system created a very graphic portrait that our sin separates us from God because our sin is a horrible offense.

f.  Consider the graphic scene that a poor animal had to have its throat slit and be burned on a fire in order for the worshiper to have an audience with God at the Tabernacle.

g.  It was an awful bloody mess but God was willing that animals would die by the millions to make a point over and over to believers that sin is not merely a minor mistake but a horrible offense.

h.  God teaches us by this that He is holy and that, before He could be approached, a sacrifice was required to deal with the offense of sin.

15.  David, then, has confidence that God will hear his prayer in the morning because he has drawn near to God in faith and repentance and takes God at His Word that He can be approached through this sacrifice.

a.  Now we have more to say about sacrifice later but for now I need you to completely understand that David is thinking of a burnt offering, which has removed the barrier of hostility that exists between our sin and the perfect holiness of God.

b.  How does this whole thing sit with you so far:

1) Are you offended at the idea that your sin is an offense to God, which needs a sacrifice?


2) Are you more concerned about whether God is offended by your sin and are grateful at any news that your offense can be removed?

15.  David continues in verses 4-6:

4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;

evil may not dwell with you.

5    The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;

you hate all evildoers.

6 You destroy those who speak lies;

the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

a.  I don’t really know how much clearer God can be here.

b.  God may not dwell with evil.

c.  Evil men may not dwell with God.

d.  He refuses that evil would be in His holy presence.

16.  But don’t misread the problem.

a.  I’m not saying that the biggest problem for other men is that they are evil.

b.  My biggest problem is that evil dwells in me.

c.  I’m a sinner.

d.  The problem of evil is not that bad things happen to good people.

e.  The Scriptures declare that all men have sinned and fallen short of the holiness of God.

f.  The terror that fills the heart is this:  how can God do any good for me, a sinner?

17.  As Psalm 5:6 declares:  God destroys those who speak lies and abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men.

a.  I might convince myself that I’m not bloodthirsty if I didn’t know what Christ taught me about hating men in my heart.

b.  My problem is that I know my heart has been and is often deceitful.  I speak lies to myself and others.

18.  How can someone like me where such wickedness resides expect to come into the presence of a Holy God?  What right do I have to be heard?

19.  Beloved, I cannot leave you in despair because God does not.  God has not.

20.  God knows how deceitful and wicked the human heart is and how much of an affront to His character it is.

21.  God knows how much we deserve to be destroyed for our sin.

22.   God could have ended human history after the sin of our first parents.

23.  But God has created a sacrifice by which the offense of our sin can be satisfied!

24.  David prays in confidence in verse 7:

7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,

will enter your house.

       I will bow down toward your holy temple

in the fear of you.

a.  Worship is based upon the abundance of God’s steadfast love toward those who approach Him in the repentance He has wrought.

b.  It wasn’t man’s idea to create a sacrifice for sin.

c.  God Himself created sacrifice in order that man could come to Him in expectation of His steadfast love.

25.  But God sets the terms.

a.  God’s steadfast love is according to His terms.

b.  We don’t come to God and say:  “Forget all that sacrifice, you should accept me on my terms.”

c.  The true worshiper of God remembers his sin and is amazed that God has provided a sacrifice.

d.  The true worshiper of God is amazed that he doesn’t receive destruction at the hand of God but steadfast love.

e.  And so David bows down in repentant faith in the fear of the Lord.  He has communion with a holy God through the sacrifice.

26.  The themes of faith and repentance and righteousness and wickedness complete the tapestry  in verses 8-12:

8    Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness

because of my enemies;

make your way straight before me.

9    For there is no truth in their mouth;

their inmost self is destruction;

       their throat is an open grave;

they flatter with their tongue.

10    Make them bear their guilt, O God;

let them fall by their own counsels;

       because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,

for they have rebelled against you.

11    But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;

let them ever sing for joy,

       and spread your protection over them,

that those who love your name may exult in you.

12    For you bless the righteous, O LORD;

you cover him with favor as with a shield.

a.  Notice that David first calls God to lead him in the Lord’s righteousness and, only then, does David have the confidence to walk into a world filled with his enemies.

b.  The worshiper begins with repentance and turning away from the sin, which has defiled him before a holy God.

c.  God makes him clean that He may now turn in faith unto God who supplies every need.

d.  The righteousness that David possesses belongs to God and is given by God.

e.  David can speak of being righteous because He has been made righteous by God’s righteousness.

27.  It is a mistake to believe that what the Scriptures are teaching is that there are righteous people, who are righteous in themselves, and then there is another class of people known as the wicked, who are not righteous in themselves.

a.  The amazing thing about grace is that we once walked according to the enslaving power of sin.

b.  The other amazing thing about grace is that we still fall into  sin, which makes us, on a real level, no better than anyone else who is an enemy of God.

c.  But through a repentant heart and a sacrifice, David has a confident faith to believe what God has promised.

d.  David has already noted that He is righteous not in himself but is given God’s righteousness.

28.  Some think it is arrogant to ascribe goodness or righteousness to ourselves.

a.  But faith in God’s promises demands that when He promises something we believe it.

b.  We believe it because we have been cleansed by a sacrifice and transformed and can boldly enter God’s presence where we may ask with the expectation that God will grant what He has promised.

28.  And so David ends the Psalm in an exuberant confidence that, even though he rightfully belonged among the wicked, God provided a way through repentance and a sacrifice, for David to turn in faith to God and that He would supply every need.

a.  God has steadfast love for such worshipers.

b.  What begins in terror at God’s holy presence, through a sacrifice, becomes a confident expression of joy that God is for us!

29.  What is remarkable about David’s confidence here is how little he saw of what those sacrifices ultimately pointed to.

a.  After all, the author of Hebrews points out how passing and imperfect the Old Covenant sacrifices were.

b.  Every time the worshiper came to God, there was a fresh burnt offering as well as other sacrifices for sin.

c.  The sacrifices never truly put away sin.

d.  True worshipers had to wait in anxious hope for a sacrifice that would finally break down that barrier.

30.  And so Christ came.

a.  Born in poverty.

b.  Despised by the world.

c.  God clothed in human flesh.

d.  God veiled in human flesh to protect us from His awesome holiness.

e.  Christ was the Servant of the Lord because every servant before Him had failed including His imperfect ancestor David.

f.  The Son of God gave Himself on the Cross and became a priest where the priest offered Himself as an offering for sin.

31.  He was spat upon, tortured mercilessly, and put to death at the hands of the people He came to serve.

a.  He came not to judge the world because the world was already condemned for its sin.

32.  And so He hung between heaven and earth.

a.  From below, He became our priest and His body became the sacrifice.

b.  From above, the Father looked down and turned His face away.  The wrath of God poured out on the Son who became Sin.

Sin placed upon Christ that it might be taken away:  My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?

c.  And as the sacrifice died, He proclaimed:  It is finished.

d.  The perfect sacrifice.

e.  Never to be repeated.

f.  The perfect sacrifice.

g.  That took away sin for all time for those that approach in repentance and trust in that sacrifice.

h.  ONCE AND FOR ALL Christ put away sin for the worshipers of God.

33.  On the third day, Christ rose again from the grave.

a.  Death could not hold him.

b.  The wages of sin no longer had power as His indestructible life rose from the grave.

c.  All who look to the Son have life everlasting in His name.

34.  So what does this have to do with prayer?

a.  Everything, beloved.

35.  When you pray, enter into God’s presence with the realization that there is nothing in you that commends you to Him.

a.  Recognize that, of yourself, you are not worthy to be in the presence of a holy God.

b.  Remember the sacrifice that Christ made to take away the sin of all who believe upon Him.

c.  Believe upon Christ and your sin is crucified on the Cross with Him.

d.  The perfect offering has been made and you have access through the veil of Christ’s flesh into the very presence of God.

e.  Confess your sins to Him.  He knows you committed them but we need to remember the sins that bruised our savior’s head and caused Him to suffer for us.  Learn to hate these sins that it might motivate you to resist temptation and sin.

f.  Your sin is covered by the Blood of Christ and so have confidence that your sins have already been counted paid in full and you are a new creation.

g.  Look at the world not in disgust at how wicked others are but in compassion that we all deserve the same judgment that wickedness deserves except that Christ has borne the penalty.

h.  Thus, pray for the world that men may not pay the penalty for their sin but that they would believe upon Him who has atoned for Sin for all who believe.

36.  And so in the confidence that your sins are forgiven draw near to God boldly.

a.  He is your heavenly Father.

b.  He sent His Son for the very purpose that you would be in His presence.

c.  Glorify Him for being God.

d.  Glorify Him for His control of all things and for the perfect plan He has to glorify Himself.

e.  Thank Him for all the things He has done for you.

f.  Thank Him even for the things you do not understand that He is promising to work for your good.

He is your Father.  He loves you even in the things that cause you to weep bitterly.

g.  Pray for others in confidence, believing God’s promises.

h.  You know your Father.  You know He can do all things and has promised to answer “Yes” to anything we pray according to His Word.

i.  Do not doubt His word.  Believe and pray with confidence.  You are His child.

37.  Behold, beloved, in Christ all things are new.  God is not just out there somewhere wanting us to be good and giving us everything we want and leaving us with some vague notion that He might help us through tough times.

38.  Christ has redeemed us from our Sin.

39.  Christ has given us His righteousness.

40.  Christ has risen on high and is even now interceding for your sanctification in grace.

41.  Pray, beloved, because Christ is working in you to will and do His good pleasure through your prayers.