For the director of music. For pipes. A psalm of David.
Listen to my words, Lord,
consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
PSALM 5:1-3, NRSV
Do you have a wind (pipe) instrument? That’s what the title of this psalm says should be used for this lament. A Nehiloth is a wind instrument.
Many have tried to classify psalms in categories of praise, lament, confession. Here we find lament and a call for God to listen to this lament. It’s also a morning psalm, meant for singing to start one’s day.
Another recurring theme that stands alongside the Always-Present-God is the seemingly ever present suffering of humanity and build up of human enemies. What are we to do with our enemies?
The psalmist — from the title it’s David — implies with this artform of writing poetic songs and performing them in the morning, that what we are to do with enemies is to cry out to God about them. Are we to arm up? Cry out to God. Are we to amass weapons? Get ammo? Are we called to confront enemies as a rule? Cry out in lament about them, to the One who can do something about enemies.
“You are not a God who is please with wrongdoing.” If God is not pleased with evil people, and our enemies are truly evil and we’re not making it up in our heads to our own defense, will not God care about this and come to our aid?
Like David, take a deep breath as he does in v. 7 and say with him, “Because of Your great love, I can come to Your House” (tabernacle or Temple). Then ask what you are to do with enemies. “O Yahweh, since I have so many enemies, show me the right thing to do. Show me clearly how You want me to live.”
David is not flawless and there is no implication in the psalms that he got all those enemies simply because he’s good and they are evil. There are other reasons we have enemies. Yes, you may have amassed enemies, and some of it may be your fault, but taking our enemies before the Lord is better than taking them down. God knows what to do with enemies.
Lord, with their mouths enemies tell lies. In their hearts they destroy people. Their throats are open graves. O God, declare them guilty. Let them fall into their own traps. Why? Because you have turned against them. But let everyone who trusts in You rejoice and be joyful! Help make our hearts happy to sing praises to you! Our hearts are weak sometimes and we can’t seem to be joyful, but make us joyful in You! You protect us and surround us like an over-life-sized shield around us!
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg’s wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.