Psalm 5: Part 5 of 7 (series: Lessons on Psalms)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

They flatter with their tongue.


He had referred to the “inward part,” or the “heart,” and to the “throat” as being depraved and evil; now he refers to another member of the body as being equally depraved—the “tongue.” Instead of being employed to speak truth, and to give expression to the real feelings of the heart, it was used to flatter others, with the intention of leading them astray, or to make use of them for immoral and selfish purposes. No one can fail to see the appropriateness of applying this illustration to Absalom and his co-conspirators “In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, "What town are you from?" He would answer, "Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel." Then Absalom would say to him, "Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you." And Absalom would add, "If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he gets justice." Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:1-6).. Flattery is a characteristic of the wicked in general.

The apostle, in his letter to the Romans, expressed the same idea as David has here “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips” (Romans 3:13).. It is remarkable, the extent to which man depends on the organs of speech—tongue, lips, mouth, throat—more than on the other senses.

Some good advice from Spurgeon: “Always beware of people who flatter you, and especially when they tell you that they do not flatter you, and that they know you cannot endure flattery, for you are then being most fulsomely flattered, so be on your guard against the tongue of the flatterer.”

10 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, O God.

The word that has been translated “destroy” has been rendered by some Bible scholars as “condemn”—“condemn them; literally, make them guilty; that is, recognize and treat them as such.” The Hebrew word for destroy is 'a^sham which means to fail in doing one’s duty, to transgress, to be guilty; the form used here, according to Gesenius, means to “punish; and hence, to destroy.” The idea in the mind of the psalmist seems to have been that he desired, since they were undoubtedly guilty, that God would regard and treat them “as such.” It is not that he wished that God would make them guilty; instead, he desired that they would be found to be so. And it is not that he wished them to be punished or cut off; but rather, since they were guilty, and as they were pursuing a course which tended to overthrow the government of the land, and they were at war with God and with the best interests of the people, God would intervene and stop their progress—that he would show himself to be a righteous and just God. They were enemies of God no less than David’s. There is no evidence of any private animosity in this prayer, or of any spirit of personal revenge. On the contrary, it is a prayer which is consistent with all the wishes of every good person, that the violators of law might be arrested and punished. There can be nothing wrong with that.

If David’s prayer against them was heard, and no doubt it was, they were in a heap of trouble. As men are, and do, so they must expect to fare—doesn’t the Word say, “As a man sows, so shall he reap?” He prays to God to destroy them, which was in accord with what he had said Psalm 5:6, "Thou shalt destroy men of this character."

Let them fall by their own counsels.

David prays that the wicked will get what they deserve. Since they were rebelling against God’s anointed and ultimately against God Himself, they deserved the “guilty” sentence—and for it to show that they brought this judgment upon themselves. The wish is, that their plans, which were evil, might amount to nothing, and lead to their own overthrow. That is, the

psalmist did not wish to stain his hands in their blood, or to be made the instrument of their destruction; but he desired that God would interject himself into the struggle and cause their own plans to be the means of quelling the rebellion. If men are so wicked that they must be destroyed it is desirable that it should be “seen” that they perish as a result of their own foolishness and wickedness, as did Ahithophel, and Haman “He repays a man for what he has done; he brings upon him what his conduct deserves” (Job 34:11)..

Cast them out.

Cast them out, expel them, and drive them away; prevent them from being successful in taking possession of the throne, and in overturning the government. Cast them out of God’s protection and goodwill, out of the heritage of the Lord, out of the land of the living, and woe to those whom God casts out. They deserved destruction because of their sins; there was enough to justify God’s complete and utter rejection of them. They were once a terror but the Lord will pour scorn on them; for they are ripe for ruin, because they have added rebellion to their sin “To his sin he adds rebellion; scornfully he claps his hands among us and multiplies his words against God" (Job 34:37)..

In the multitude of their transgressions.

In the multitude (abundance) of their transgressions (sins), or as a consequence of the number and the gravity of their offenses. The intention of the psalmist is to focus attention on the “great number” of their sins as a reason why they should not be allowed to succeed. Prayer like this one is not wrong, because it would not be right to pray that sinners who have committed a multitude of sins be rewarded with success and prosperity. Actually, the fact that they are such sinners is, under a righteous administration, a reason why they should “not” be successful, not why they “should be.”

Cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, by which they have filled up the measure of their iniquity and have become ripe for ruin. Persecuting God's servants fills the measure as quickly as anything “. . . You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way, they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).. The enemies of God and His people, may easily be made to fall by their own counsels—that which they do to protect themselves, and to harm others, may be made a means of their own destruction by the over-ruling providence of God “He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made” (Psalm 7:15); “The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden” (Psalm 9:15)..

For they have rebelled against thee.

This is given as a reason why the psalmist prayed that they should be cut off. It was not that they had wronged him; it was because they had rebelled against God; and it was right, therefore, to hope and to pray that he would interpose and vindicate his government and law. There is no spirit of personal revenge shown here, and nothing said that would encourage or foster such a spirit. What is said here is only what every judge must feel who fairly executes the laws, because it is desirable that the wicked—the violators of the law—the enemies of their country—should be arrested and prosecuted.

He pleads, they have rebelled against thee, and therefore, they are more your enemies than mine, which makes me very hot against them, since I am consumed with zeal for thy glory. Had they been only my enemies, I could easily have forgiven them but they are rebels against God, and His crown and dignity; they oppose His authority, and will not repent, refuse to give him glory, and therefore I clearly foresee their ruin. His prayer for their destruction comes not from a spirit of revenge, but from a spirit of prophecy, by which he predicted that all who rebel against God will, without doubt, be destroyed by their own opinions. If it is a righteous thing for God to punish those who oppose Him and trouble his people, as we are told it is “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you” (2 Thessalonians 1:6)., it is proper for us to pray that it may be done whenever we pray, “Father, thy will be done.”



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