A Look at Psalm 5

A Look at Psalm 5

The psalmist begins the day by calling for God’s help, expressing confidence that God is listening.  He waits patiently for God’s answer.

He recognizes that God does not help sinners succeed in their evil ways.  (That is the meaning of “hate” in v. 6.  It does not mean that God does not constantly invite sinners to repentance.)

The psalmist looks forward to entering the temple and offering worship to God.  It is God’s love that gives him the privilege, and it is God’s love that helps him escape people who would do him harm.

Note the colorful description of the evildoers.  There is “no sincerity in their mouths; their hearts are corrupt.  Their throats are open graves (i.e., their speech tends to bring death to others); on their tongues are subtle lies.”  The psalmist looks for God to destroy such people.  We hear such sentiments often in the psalms and elsewhere.  These are ways the Old Testament people expected God to exercise justice since there was no idea of a judgment after death at that time.  As we pray such words today, we would ask God to lead evildoers to repentance.  We remember that Jesus taught us to love our enemies.  Furthermore, don’t we often pray for the conversion of sinners?

The psalm ends with a prayer for “all who take refuge in God” and with joyful expectation that God will “bless the just.”

We can easily see this psalm in the mouth of the suffering Jesus describing his enemies—but with the prayer for their conversion.

The church can also make this prayer with Jesus as it faces those who wish to harm it.  Again, the prayer would be for conversion, not for destruction.  We can also look forward to coming to our temple, our church, celebrating the Eucharist together with all God’s people.

Feature photo: Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


About the Author

Hilarion Kistner, O.F.M., after ordination in 1955, did further studies in Scripture. He taught Scripture to seminarians for 15 years. He has been editor of Sunday Homily Helps for more than 25 years.
  • Jeannek

    What a good reminder. Too often, we are looking for the destruction of those who do evil. Praying for their conversion seems like the more Christlike thing to do.