The Blessing of Hope – Psalm 5:11-12

Psalm 5:11-12 (for the first four installments of the study on Psalm 5, click here, here, here, and here.)

Hope is an interesting thing in our day and age.  We hope for many things.  As a sports fan, I hope that the particular teams to which I dedicate my allegiance do well, and ultimately win a championship.  I see my children hope for various things for birthday and/or Christmas presents.  I hope that someday I’ll wake up, and my lower back pain will be a thing of the past.

As a Christian, hope is something that is entirely different than what I expressed above.  For me, a life-long believer, it seems almost cliché to define hope.  I have been taught from a young age that hope in the Bible is a “confident expectation” of what has been promised.  In essence, hope is the process of waiting for what we’ve already received.  This is the kind of hope that David talks about in Psalm 5.

Insights from the Septuagint

11All who hope in you will be made glad,

            they will rejoice forever,

   and you will dwell with them,

            and all who love your name will glory in you.

12Because you will bless the righteous, Lord;

            you crown us as a shield of favor.

Most of what I want to talk about will be covered in the Law & Gospel section.  There are, however, a few other items worth pointing out.

The phrase I translated, “and you will dwell with them” literally reads, “and you will make a nest among them.”  It is a picture not only of God’s presence, but also his protection (which the ESV captures from the Hebrew).

The final line, “you crown us as a shield of favor” speaks about the awarding of a prize.  The definition from the lexicon I use is, “to cause someone to receive a prize or reward as the result of excellence in competition.”[1]  The New Testament authors used the same word in 2 Tim. 2:5 and Heb. 2:9.

Law & Gospel

I chose to translate these verses from the LXX with a more deliberate and intentional cause-and-effect relationship.  The way I read verse eleven is that it is the result of what God does in verse twelve.  With that in mind, let’s look at verse twelve first.

“For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.”  We first must look at the blessing the Lord pours out on his people.  The beautiful thing about this verse is that righteousness is the blessing.  The Lord blesses the righteous because he is the one who declares them righteous.  This is the exact picture of justification by faith.  God does not count our sins against us because Jesus Christ has taken our place on the cross.  We have been given the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ in place of our sinfulness (2 Cor. 5:21).

The picture of justification by faith is made stronger by the second line in verse twelve.  “You cover him with favor as with a shield.”  Immediately, my thoughts were drawn to Eph. 6:16.  “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one,” (emphasis mine).  We are covered with God’s favor because of our faith in Jesus Christ.

The Greek of the LXX is very strong in verse twelve.  The emphasis is on God who does the blessing.  It is very clear that we have no part in this activity, and we have nothing to contribute to God’s work.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast,” (Eph. 2:8-9)

This takes us to the result (or results) of verse eleven.  It is clear that a byproduct of salvation is joy – it’s repeated twice in the first two lines of the verse.  This should not surprise us.  Joy was the announcement of the angel to the shepherds at the coming of the Savior.  “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:10-11, emphasis mine).

What I really want to look at in verse eleven is the third line or phrase: “and spread your protection over them.”  I absolutely love the language of the LXX in this case.  As mentioned above, a literal Greek translation reads, “you will make a nest among them.”  This is such a beautiful picture of God dwelling with and protecting his people.  And this is exactly what salvation is.

Salvation was realized because God chose to make his dwelling among his people (John 1:14).  The promise of salvation is that we will spend eternity with God in heaven, where Rev. 21:3 says, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”  Until then, we have the promise that Paul penned in Rom. 8: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What a beautiful picture of the presence and protection of God in our loves.  No wonder why David was rejoicing!


[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, vol. 1, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible societies, 1996), 570-71.

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  1. #1 by Katelyn on September 12, 2011 - 1:18 pm

    I absolutely love the idea of God building a nest around us. Thanks Jas!

  1. Responding to Psalm 5 « ophelimos

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