Psalm 5:3

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 3. 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, I 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 marshall 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 like 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.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord.

When first thy eyes unveil, give thy soul leave To do the like; our bodies but forerun
The spirit's duty: true hearts spread and heave Unto their God, as flowers do to the sun;
Give him thy first thoughts, then, so shalt thou keep Him company all day, and in him sleep.
Yet never sleep the sun up; prayer should Dawn with the day, there are set awful hours
Twixt heaven and us; the manna was not good After sun rising, for day sullies flowers. Rise to prevent the sun; sleep doth sins glut, And heaven's gate opens when the world's is shut.

Walk with thy fellow creatures; note the hush And whisperings amongst them. Not a spring Or leaf but hath his morning hymn; each bush And oak doth know I AM - - canst thou not sing? O leave thy cares and follies! Go this way, And thou art sure to prosper all the day.



Henry Vaughn, 1621 - 1695.

Verse 3. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning. "In the morning shall my prayer prevent thee," said Heman. That is the fittest time for devotion, you being then fresh in your spirits, and freest from distractions. Which opportunity for holy duties may fitly be called the wings of the morning. Edward Reyner, 1658.

Verse 3. In the morning. "In the days of our fathers," says Bishop Burnet, "when a person came early to the door of his neighbour, and desired to speak with the master of the house, it was as common a thing for the servants to tell him with freedom -- `My master is at prayer,' as it now is to say, `My master is not up.'"

Verse 3. In the morning I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up, or, I will marshall my prayer, I will bring up petition after petition, pleading after pleading, even till I become like Jacob, a prince with God, till I have won the field and got the day. Thus the word is applied by a metaphor both to disputations with men and supplications to God. Further, we may take the meaning plainly without any strain of rhetoric, Set thy words in order before me. Method is good in everything, either an express or covert method. Sometimes it is the best of art to cover it: in speaking there is a special use of method, for though, as one said very well (speaking of those who are more curious about method than serious about matter), "Method never converted any man;" yet method and the ordering of words is very useful. Our speeches should not be heaps of words, but words bound up; not a throng of words, but words set in array, or, as it were, in rank and file. Joseph Caryl.

Verse 3. I will direct my prayer unto thee and will look up. In the words you may observe two things: first, David's posture in prayer; secondly, his practice after prayer. First, his posture in prayer, I will direct my prayer unto thee. Secondly, his practice after prayer, And I will look up. The prophet in these words, makes use of two military words. First, he would not only pray, but marshall up his prayers, he would put them in battle array; so much the Hebrew word ($r[) imports. Secondly, when he had done this, then he would be as a spy upon his watchtower, to see whether he prevailed, whether he got the day or no; and so much the Hebrew word (hpc) imports. When David had set his prayers, his petitions, in rank and file, in good array, then he was resolved he would look abroad, he would look about him to see at what door God would send in an answer to prayer. He is either a fool or a madman, he is either very weak or very wicked, that prays and prays but never looks after his prayers; that shoots many an arrow toward heaven, but never minds where his arrows alight. Thomas Brooks.

Verse 3. David would direct his prayer to God and look up; not down to the world, down to corruption, but up to God what he would speak. Psalms 85:8 . "I will hear what God the Lord will speak," Let the resolution of the prophet be thine, "I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me." Micah 7:7 . William Greenhill, 1650.

Verse 3. I will direct my prayer to thee, and will look up, that is, I will trade, I will send out my spiritual commodities, and expect a gainful return; I will make my prayers, and not give them for lost, but look up for an answer. God will bring man home by a way contrary to that by which he wandered from him. Man fell from God by distrust, by having God in suspicion; God will bring him back by trust, by having good thoughts of him. Oh, how richly laden might the vessel which thou sendest out come home, wouldst thou but long and look for its return! George Swinnock.

Verse 3. Faith hath a supporting act after prayer; it supports the soul to expect a gracious answer: I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up, or I will look; for what, but for a return? An unbelieving heart shoots at random, and never minds where his arrow lights, or what comes of his praying; but faith fills the soul with expectation. As a merchant, when he casts up his estate, he counts what he hath sent beyond sea, as well as what he hath in hand; so doth faith reckon upon what he hath sent to heaven in prayer and not received, as well as those mercies which he hath received, and are in hand at present. Now this expectation which faith raiseth in the soul after prayer, appears in the power that it hath to quiet and compose the soul in the interim between the sending forth, as I may say, the ship of prayer, and its return home with its rich lading it goes for, and it is more or less, according as faith's strength is. Sometimes faith comes from prayer in triumph, and cries, Victoria. It gives such a being and existence to the mercy prayed for in the Christian's soul before any likelihood of it appears to sense and reason, that the Christian can silence all his troubled thoughts with the expectation of its coming. Yea, it will make the Christian disburse his praises for the mercy long before it is received. ... For want of looking up many a prayer is lost. If you do not believe, why do you pray? And if you believe, why do you not expect? By praying you seem to depend on God; by not expecting, you again renounce your confidence. What is this but to take his name in vain? O Christian, stand to your prayer in a holy expectation of what you have begged upon the credit of the promise ... Mordecai, no doubt, had put up many prayers for Esther, and therefore he waits at the king's gate, looking what answer God would in his providence give thereunto. Do thou likewise. William Gurnall.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 3. The excellence of morning devotion.

Verse 3. (last two clauses)

  1. Prayer directed.
  2. Answers expected.
Read Psalm 5:3