Every morning when Grace, my two year-old daughter, wakes up, she cries out my name. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddyyyyyyyyyy,” is usually the equivalent of my alarm clock. When I enter her room, sometimes there are tears in her eyes as she reaches out to me in sorrow and fear, realizing that she’s alone in the room (her brother Noah having managed to sneak out without waking her). Sometimes she claps her hands and giggles as I walk, groggy-eyed, into the room. But it is always me she asks for.
In Psalm 5:1-3, David writes, “O LORD, in the morning your hear my voice.” It is his cry, his desire, to be in the presence of Daddy as he begins his day. He knows that God has exactly what he needs for each day and is capable of taking care of him. The trust David shows is implicit, complete. Whether it is comfort that he needs or joy that he is expressing, it is reserved for God and God alone.
This is not to say that Grace treats me like God, but rather the depth of relationship she has with me as my daughter, demonstrated by her utter dependence on me for every situation in life, is the same type of relationship that David has with God. It’s easy to trust a father or mother, but do we trust God in the same way when we can’t see Him or touch Him? David demonstrates that he does.
Insights from the Septuagint
UNTO COMPLETION; ON BEHALF OF THOSE WHO HAVE RECEIVED. A PSALM OF DAVID.
1Give ear to the words I have spoken, Lord;
understand my wailing.
2Heed the sound of my prayer,
my King and my God,
because to you will I pray, Lord.
3You will give ear to my voice in the morning;
in the morning I will present myself to you and watch.
Prayer is mentioned twice in verse two, but is two different words in the Greek. The ESV actually does a good job capturing the nuances of the two words by translating (albeit from the Hebrew) the first word “cry”. The first mention of the word “prayer” is a specific type and/or instance of prayer, and the last mention, “pray”, describes the general act of praying.
The Hebrew is difficult to interpret in verse three. The ESV makes note of this by saying the alternative translation to “I prepare a sacrifice for you” is “I direct my prayer to you”. The writers of the LXX seem to favor the latter of the two options. Whether it is intentional ambiguity in the Hebrew I do not know, but it makes for an excellent opportunity to make a comparison.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we need to understand that we cannot separate our daily prayer lives (“in the morning I will present myself to you”) from our formal times of worship (“in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you”). Our Sunday morning (and/or Wednesday evening, Saturday evening, etc.) times of corporate worship are a formal version of what needs to be happening on a daily basis as we read the Word of God and come to Him in prayer. And our daily times of reading and prayer will have no substance if they are not coupled with regular times of organized worship with other believers.
Law & Gospel
The phrase “my King and my God” stands out in verse two, especially since David has been called and appointed as king ofIsrael. By calling God “King”, David acknowledges that true power and authority rest with God.
In our daily walks with God, it is very easy for us to become “buddy-buddy” with Him. We love that our God is approachable (which He is – Heb. 4:16), a loving Father (which He is – 1 John 3:1), and has called us His friends (which He has – John 15:15). But at times we forget or willingly ignore the fact that sin (specifically our sin) makes Him angry (Rom. 1:18).
This is the same picture of God which the world would embrace. How many times have we heard in the media or from a friend or co-worker they believe that God is love? A loving God certainly wouldn’t send anyone to Hell. With that in mind, we continue on, merrily sinning while convincing ourselves that we indeed are good people and God loves us and as long as we are trying our best to be nice, He will willingly open the gates of Heaven for us when our time comes.
But when we hold in our minds and in our hearts that God is also our King, this changes things. Rom. 13:3-4 teaches us that God has appointed earthly rulers to maintain order in society and punish evildoers. If it is the right and authority of earthly rulers to punish evildoers, how much more the God of the universe?
If at this point we still insist on the fact that we are good people and have no need to fear punishment, consider what Scripture says to that end. Paul, quoting the Psalms in Rom. 3, writes this in verses 10-12: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” As if that weren’t enough, he concludes later with this summary statement: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23). Those are pretty comprehensive statements about our “not good-ness”.
As the supreme and sovereign authority in our lives, God has every right to punish us for our sins. And yet He chose instead to send His Only Son Jesus Christ to take that punishment instead of us, freeing us from bondage we could not have possibly hoped to free ourselves from (2 Cor. 5:21).
The type of relationship with God that David displays in verses 1-3 of Psalm 5 is not because David sees God as his buddy. It is because David has learned to honor God as King, love Him as Redeemer, and depend on Him as Father. It is in this type of relationship that we can approach God with our fears and our needs, our joys and our excitement.