Psalms 1-5

"In Judeo-Christian scripture, one book continues to stand out as 'the greatest book of devotional literature in existence.' It is a collection of poems known as the Book of Psalms. The Psalms capsulize Israelite thoughts, hopes, and dreams of glory and exaltation. Their poetry glows with the fire of devotion, spiritual love, and, in places, even defiance against the enemies of God.
"So powerful has been the impact of the Psalms upon all Israelites that these poems in our time provide strong internal evidence of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. The Psalms, with their peculiar and even chartable style, seems to have so influenced Lehi and his descendants that some of that style appears in their writings." (Paul Cracroft, "A Clear Poetic Voice," Ensign, Jan. 1984, 28)
The Psalms are often included in pocket-sized publications of the New Testament. While other Old Testament texts are excluded, the Psalms and Proverbs are considered important enough to include. Why would that be? "During the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries, there were several written translations into Anglo-Saxon of parts of the scriptures, usually the Psalms and the Gospels." (Ensign, June 1982, 40) These translators weighed the Psalms in higher esteem than the epistles of Paul. In the New Testament, the Psalms and Isaiah are the most quoted scriptures.
"No book of the Old Testament is more Christian in its inner sense or more fully attested as such by the use made of it than the Psalms. Out of a total of 283 direct citations from the Old Testament in the New, 116 have been counted from this one book. Much of Christianity by its preference for the Psalms reverses the custom of the synagogue, which judged the psalmists' inspiration inferior to that of the prophets." (Bible Dictionary, "Psalms")
The Psalms teach us why we should keep the first and great commandment-to love the Lord with all our heart, might, mind and strength. They heal the heart, fortify our might, expand the mind, and replenish our strength. They tap into the deepest, heartfelt, yearnings for God. The Psalms are prayers; they are supplications; they are expressions of gratitude; they are hymns; they are cries for help. They are also prophetic and Messianic. The Lord's mercy is a central theme-so is the Lord's mission. They resonate with the reader whose heart is drawn out to the Lord. You should read Psalms if:
  • You feel forgotten and lonely
  • You need forgiveness and mercy
  • Your heart is weary and your energy is spent
  • You're beset by your enemies
  • The wicked seem to prosper
  • You're full of heaviness from temptation and sin
  • Your heart is full of praise and gratitude
  • You need the power of the atonement
  • Your heart is broken
  • Your spirit is contrite
As President Ezra Taft Benson succinctly declared, "The psalms in the Old Testament have a special food for the soul of one in distress." (Ensign, Oct. 1986, 4)
On the other hand, the Psalms will not resonate with the reader who doesn't feel the need for God in his life. Those who place confidence in their own strength will consider psalms merely sentimental drivel. The Psalms are a waste of time if:
  • Your life is going great
  • Your relationship with God is casual
  • You don't need any help
  • You have enough money
  • God has never helped you in the past
  • You consider prayers a sign of weakness
Psalms as Music
"Music has always been used to inspire, uplift, and express praise to the Lord... In King David's time, the Psalms were sung, and at least 43 of them mention singing. Further, the Psalms invite us to 'make a joyful noise' to the Lord, to praise him with harp, timbrel, stringed instruments, organs, and cymbals (see Ps. 100:1; Ps. 150:3-5)." (Lisa Ray Turner, "A Choir in Every Ward," Ensign, Feb. 1998, 59)
"Psalms... are hymns taken from the Old Testament. The psalms are the Western world's best-loved poems, and the noblest. The Pilgrims sang psalms, and the Puritans, in 1640, had the complete book of Psalms in rhyme and meter. The Calvinists preferred singing psalms to any other kind of hymn. Coming from the Old Testament, the psalms are addressed to Jehovah and do not mention the name Jesus Christ, although several of the psalms carry references to the life and mission of Jesus Christ. Several psalms are included in our hymnbook, such as 'The Lord Is My Shepherd' and 'Praise Ye the Lord.'" (Alexander Schreiner, "Guidelines for Writing Latter-day Hymns," Ensign, Apr. 1973, 53-54)
Psalm 1:1-2 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly... But his delight is in the law of the Lord
Brigham Young
Great peace have they who love the law of the Lord and abide in his commandments. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 8: 121)
Brigham Young
Great peace have those who love the law of the Gospel, and nothing shall offend them. Great joy have they who love our Lord Jesus Christ; and great peace do those enjoy who delight in working the works of righteousness. Let the blessings of heaven attend you, is my prayer continually. Be faithful, ye Saints. Contend against evil, and cease not to take every measure to do away with all the evil that is in your midst, until God shall sanctify a people and prepare them to dwell in his presence. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 8: 151)
Joseph F. Smith
The mind must not only posses a knowledge of truth, but the soul must revere it, cherish it, love it as a priceless gem; and this human life must be guided and shaped by it in order to fulfil its destiny. The mind should not only be charged with intelligence, but the soul should be filled with admiration and desire for pure intelligence which comes of a knowledge of the truth. The truth can only make him free who hath it, and will continue in it. And the word of God is truth, and it will endure forever. (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 269)
Psalm 1:3 whatsoever he doeth shall prosper
Dean L. Larsen
When the lives of the people are in harmony with the Lord's will, all of the essential factors that produce the blessings God deigns to give to his children seem to come into line. Love and harmony prevail. Even the weather, the climate, and the elements seem to respond. Peace and tranquility endure. Industry and progress mark the lives of the people. It is as the Lord has promised:
If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. (Lev. 26:3-6.) (Ensign, Nov. 1992, 41-42)
Spencer W. Kimball
Let's do these things because they are right, because they are satisfying, and because we are obedient to the counsels of the Lord. In this spirit we will be prepared for most eventualities, and the Lord will prosper and comfort us. It is true that difficult times will come-for the Lord has foretold them-and, yes, stakes of Zion are "for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm." (D&C 115:6.) But if we live wisely and providently, we will be as safe as in the palm of His hand. (Ensign, Aug. 1984, 5-6)
Psalm 1:4 the ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away
Brigham Young
Can you discern between the righteous and the wicked here? You know I have spoken of a certain class of men who frequent our law shops, and every other wicked hole they can get into; can they discern the difference between those who love the law of God and those who despise it? No. The vilest sinner on the earth who will come with a bland countenance, using the airs that belong to the etiquette of the day, you receive as a very fine man, a beautiful gentleman. Do you not know that you need the Spirit of the Almighty to look through a man and discern what is in his heart, while his face smiles upon you and his words flow as smoothly as oil? If you had the power of God upon you, you might see the sword lurking within him, and that, if he had the power, he would plunge it in your heart and destroy you from the earth. I meet many such men in these streets, and in the houses round about. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 3: 225)
Psalm 2:1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
In 1741, Handel composed his most famous work, The Messiah, in only 24 days. Taking messianic passages from the Old Testament to paint a prophetic masterpiece, he obviously understood the prophetic implications of scripture. Taking Psalms 2:1-2, he wrote a solo for bass in part 2, no. 40 of The Messiah. He invites us to ponder how it is possible that the nations, the people, the kings, and rulers would reject Jesus. What did he do that engendered so much opposition?
Why do the nations so furiously rage together?
Why do the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth rise up,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord, and against His anointed
John Taylor
Why is it that the world rage? Why is it that the priests of the day are angry-that politicians are mad? It is because the Lord has set forth his hand to accomplish his purposes and bring to pass the things spoken of in the holy Prophets.
As one of old has said, "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure."
The Lord will bring to pass his strange purpose, and accomplish the thing he has designed. It is for us to live our religion, to fully appreciate the Gospel we possess, and fully obey its requirements, submit to its laws, and yield to its dictations, following the direction of the holy Priesthood, which hold the keys of the mysteries of the revelations of God, magnifying our callings, and honoring our God, that we may be prepared to fulfill our destiny upon the earth, and be enabled to be a blessing to those around us, and to pour blessings upon our posterity, and spread forth the great principles of eternity, which are calculated to bless, enlighten, ennoble, and exalt all who will yield obedience to their dictates.
May God bless you all, and guide you in the way of truth, which I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 7: 370)
Brigham Young
Let the wicked world pass on and the inhabitants of the earth rail, and let the wicked imagine a vain thing and the heathen rage and run to-and-fro; yet knowledge will increase, and they cannot prevent it. The kingdom of God and the ordinances of his house are again restored, and we are made happy participants thereof. Praise his holy name, then, brethren and sisters, and acknowledge his hand in all things, improving your talents, and making yourselves worthy to receive more. The kings, queens, nobles, and great men of the earth will yet bow to the Gospel, though not until they are obliged to. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 8: 161 - 162)
Orson Hyde
What the world calls "Mormonism" will rule every nation. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young will be the head. God has decreed it, and his own right arm will accomplish it. This will make the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing. Yet upon the words of these men the eternal destiny of the generation in which they lived hangs. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 7: 53)
Psalm 2:2 the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord
This Messianic passage accurately describes the situation at the time of Christ's condemnation. The Sanhedrin, Annas (John 18:13), Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the Jewish leaders who encouraged the people to free Barabbas all took counsel against the Lord. They had each carved up a portion of authority in Jerusalem, and as competitive entities, they didn't like each other. The Sanhedrin hated Roman influence. To them Pilate was a gentile who should not be allowed to rule. They had no respect for Herod either. On the other hand, Pilate knew that the Sanhedrin brought Jesus out of envy. He didn't like Herod either, "the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves." (Luke 23:12)
These disparate groups had little in common with each other. While they couldn't agree on much, condemning Jesus to death became the one evil that could bring them together.
When the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. (Matt. 21:45-46)
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. (Matt. 22:15)
And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.
And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. (Mark 3:1-6)
Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death...
Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him. (John 11:46-57)
Bruce R. McConkie
The second Psalm is Messianic. The first two verses speak of the rejection of Jesus by the Jews in these words: "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed."
...We speak with wonder and horror, and properly we should, of the fact that the Jews, with the scriptures, the miracles, and the mighty works before them, yet rejected their God, and did it so violently and with such a fixed determination that they brought about his death by Roman hands. (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 494)
Psalm 2:3-11 Let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us
The rulers of Israel, in their pride, boast of their ability to break free from the oppression of heathen nations. Messianic passages quickly transition from speaking of Christ's First Coming to his Second. This is a good example. John Taylor said, "While the first portion of the above psalm refers to the Anointed of the Lord, and matters that would take place at His first appearing, still many of the things, therein mentioned, have not yet transpired." (Mediation and Atonement [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1882], 13 - 14)
Speaking of the Second Coming and the nations that will then besiege Jerusalem, the Lord laughs at their foolishness, saying, "if you rulers had any faith, you would know that my king, the Messiah, will establish his throne in Zion and exercise dominion. If you had understanding, you would know that He has power to do much more than break you free from their oppressive bands and restrictive cords. You will be more than free; you will inherit their lands; you will break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling [and all your enemies will be made weak before thee] (Ps. 2:10-11)
John Taylor
Jesus accomplished what he was sent to do, and, feeling satisfied of this, when he was about to leave the earth he said he had finished the work his Father gave him to do. But there was another work, another event that was to transpire in the latter days, when he should not be led as a lamb to the slaughter or be like a sheep before the shearers; when he would not act in that state of humiliation and quiescence, but when he will go forth as a man of war and tread down the people in his anger and trample them in his fury, when blood should be on his garments and the day of vengeance in his heart, when he would rule the nations with an iron rod and break them to pieces like a potter's vessel... there must be a reason why he should come forth in judgment to execute vengeance, indignation and wrath upon the ungodly... When he comes again he comes to take vengeance on the ungodly and to bring deliverance unto his Saints; "For the day of vengeance," it is said, "is in my heart and the year of my redeemed is come." It behooves us to be made well aware which call we belong to, that if we are not already among the redeemed we may immediately join that society, that when the Son of God shall come the second time with all the holy angels with him, arrayed in power and great glory to take vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the Gospel, or when he shall come in flaming fire, we shall be among that number who shall be ready to meet him with gladness in our hearts and hail him as our great deliverer and friend. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 10: 120)
Psalm 2:7 Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee
This passage is quoted in Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 1:5. It is critically important to understand that the Messiah was defined as God's son by this passage. Therefore, whenever Jesus spoke of his Father, he was claiming to be the Anointed One. The Jews did not speak of God as their "Father in Heaven." That colloquialism was not part of their mentality. Only the Messiah was God's Son in their thinking. After Christ healed the man at the pool of Bethesda, he was criticized by the Jewish leaders. He responded, "My father worketh hitherto, and I work." (John 5:17) He was merely saying that he was doing the work of his Father, but claiming to be God's Son was a big deal!
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:18)
Bruce R. McConkie
[The] meaning: "Thou art my Son: my Firstborn in the spirit, my Only Begotten in the flesh." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 141)
Bruce R. McConkie
Statements by the seers of Old Testament times, which have been preserved for us, that God should have a Son are few and far between. There are a great many prophetic utterances that speak of his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection-in all of which it is implicit in the very nature of things that God was to be his Father-but there are only a few places where he is spoken of as a Son in so many words...
Fragmentary as our records are, it is nonetheless clear that all of the prophets of Old Testament times knew and taught that the promised Messiah would be the Son of God. (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 142, 142)
Psalm 2:9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron
This verse is quoted in Handel's Messiah, solo for tenor, part 2, no. 42. See commentary for Psalm 2:3-11.
Psalm 3:1-3 Lord, how are they increased that trouble me!
Prior to becoming King of Israel, David was chased by Saul and his armies. He was hated and feared by the Philistines. He was in danger whenever his roaming band of devoted followers was viewed as a threat to the locals. 1 Samuel 23 - 26 recount Saul's efforts to find and kill David.
And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand. (2 Sam. 27:1)
Psalm 3:3 But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me
David knew who to trust. He needed help and turned to the Lord for his strength. When he came upon Ziklag, after the women and children had been taken captive and the city burned with fire, he was in trouble.
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. (1 Sam. 30:6)
One of the few prophets who faced as many threats to his life was the Prophet Joseph Smith. His sentiment resembled King David's.
Joseph Smith
My feelings at the present time are that, inasmuch as the Lord Almighty has preserved me until today, He will continue to preserve me, by the united faith and prayers of the Saints, until I have fully accomplished my mission in this life, and so firmly established the dispensation of the fullness of the priesthood in the last days, that all the powers of earth and hell can never prevail against it...
I shall triumph over my enemies: I have begun to triumph over them at home, and I shall do it abroad. All those that rise up against me will surely feel the weight of their iniquity upon their own heads. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 258)
Psalm 4:1 hear me when I call, O God
When teaching about prayer, we often teach that God always listens to our prayers-that he always answers them. Neither of those claims may be fair. The Lord does not always hear our prayers; He does not hear the prayers of the wicked. After the children of Israel rejected the Lord as their king, requesting a mortal king like the nations around them, the Lord warned them of what was to come saying, "ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day." (1 Sam. 8:18) Isaiah similarly warned that God's hearing worsens when we sin, "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." (Isaiah 59:2)
On the other hand, if we keep the Sabbath day holy, obey the law of the fast, and take care of the poor, the Lord promises to hear us, "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am... and the Lord shall guide thee continually." (Isa. 58:9-11)
Therefore, David's request to be heard is not just theater. He makes a request that started with Adam and has been a concern for the righteous ever since. We are all sinners and come short of the glory of God. When God hears and answers our prayers, he is doing us a favor. When we are trying, he will listen. When our actions offend him, we have no promise.
Psalm 4:2 how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing?
Leasing is an old English term meaning lying.
Sheldon F. Child
We are all familiar with the statement "Honesty is the best policy." For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, honesty is the only policy. We must be honest with our fellowmen. We must be honest with our God. We are honest with God when we honor the covenants we make with Him. (Ensign, May 1997, 30)
Psalm 4:4 stand in awe, and sin not
This passage is never quoted but rather profound, "stand in awe, and sin not." Sometimes we need to just shut our mouths and acknowledge the goodness of God. It is reminiscent of another great reminder, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10; D&C 101:16).
Psalm 4:5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness
Ezra Taft Benson
Opportunities to lose oneself for the good of others present themselves daily: the mother who serves her children's needs; the father who gives his time for their instruction; parents who give up worldly pleasure for quality home life; children who care for their aged parents; home teaching service; visiting teaching; time for compassionate service; giving comfort to those who need strength; serving with diligence in Church callings; community and public service in the interest of preserving our freedoms; financial donations for tithes, fast offerings, support of missionaries, welfare, building and temple projects. Truly, the day of sacrifice is not past. (Conference Report, April 1979, 34)
Psalm 5:1 consider my meditation
Ezra Taft Benson
Man must take time to meditate, to sweep the cobwebs from his mind, so that he might get a more firm grip on the truth and spend less time chasing phantoms and dallying in projects of lesser worth...
Take time to meditate. Ponder the meaning of the work in which you are engaged. The Lord has counseled, "Let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds" (D&C 43:34). You cannot do that when your minds are preoccupied with the worries and cares of the world. (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 390)
Gordon B. Hinckley
We live in a very mad world when all is said and done. The pressures are tremendous. We fly at high speeds. We drive at high speeds. We program ourselves. I guess I'm the only one in the Church who doesn't have a daytimer; but, I have a secretary and he has a daytimer. But there is hardly time to reflect and think and pause and meditate. I daresay that most of those in this room today have not taken an hour in the last year to just sit down quietly, each man to himself, as a son of God, reflecting upon his place in this world, upon his destiny, upon his capacity to do good, upon his mission to make some changes for good. We need to. I recall so vividly President McKay in his old age in a meeting with his counselors and the Twelve saying, "Brethren, we need to take more time to meditate, to think quietly." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 334)
Psalm 5:3 in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up
Carl B. Cook
At the end of a particularly tiring day toward the end of my first week as a General Authority, my briefcase was overloaded and my mind was preoccupied with the question "How can I possibly do this?" I left the office of the Seventy and entered the elevator of the Church Administration Building. As the elevator descended, my head was down and I stared blankly at the floor.
The door opened and someone entered, but I didn't look up. As the door closed, I heard someone ask, "What are you looking at down there?" I recognized that voice-it was President Thomas S. Monson.
I quickly looked up and responded, "Oh, nothing." (I'm sure that clever response inspired confidence in my abilities!)
But he had seen my subdued countenance and my heavy briefcase. He smiled and lovingly suggested, while pointing heavenward, "It is better to look up!" As we traveled down one more level, he cheerfully explained that he was on his way to the temple. When he bid me farewell, his parting glance spoke again to my heart, "Now, remember, it is better to look up."
As we parted, the words of a scripture came to mind: "Believe in God; believe that he is ... ; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth." (Mosiah 4:9) As I thought of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's power, my heart found the comfort I had sought in vain from the floor of that descending elevator.
Since then I have pondered this experience and the role of prophets. I was burdened and my head was down. As the prophet spoke, I looked to him. He redirected my focus to look up to God, where I could be healed and strengthened through Christ's Atonement. That is what prophets do for us. They lead us to God. (Ensign, Nov. 2011, 33)
Howard W. Hunter
If prayer is only a spasmodic cry at the time of crisis, then it is utterly selfish, and we come to think of God as a repairman or a service agency to help us only in our emergencies. We should remember the Most High day and night-always-not only at times when all other assistance has failed and we desperately need help. If there is any element in human life on which we have a record of miraculous success and inestimable worth to the human soul, it is prayerful, reverential, devout communication with our Heavenly Father. "Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation," the Psalmist sang.
Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. (Ps. 5:1-3.)
Perhaps what this world needs, as much as anything, is to "look up" as the Psalmist said-to look up in our joys as well as our afflictions, in our abundance as well as in our need. We must continually look up and acknowledge God as the giver of every good thing and the source of our salvation.
Jesus looked up throughout the course of his ministry. He prayed constantly and sought faithfully the divine direction of his Father in heaven. Furthermore, he acknowledged that the work and the will he came to fulfill was his Father's, not his own. He, more than any other in this world's history, was willing to humble himself, to bow down, and to give honor and glory to the Most High. (Ensign, Nov. 1977, 52)
Psalm 5:7 as for me, I will come into thy house... [and] worship toward thy holy temple
We remember Joshua declaring, "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). Psalm 5:7 appears to be David's version of the same idea, "as for me and my house, we will serve in the temple." The two statements overlap because, in our day, one of the biggest ways the Lord wants us to serve him is in the holy temple.
Howard W. Hunter
I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership. It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple. It would please the Lord if every adult member would be worthy of-and carry-a current temple recommend. The things that we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families.
Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing. (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8)
Psalm 5:9 their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulcher
At least David's wicked enemies didn't claim to be righteous. David's enemies were open sepulchers. Since contact with the dead made one ceremonially unclean (Numb. 19:11), an open sepulcher could theoretically spread its filthiness. But there is one thing worse. To be a "whited sepulcher" (Matt. 23:27) is much worse than to be an "open sepulcher." Surely the uncleanness of an open sepulcher is offensive, but there is little hypocrisy. In Jesus' day, the Pharisees and scribes were whited sepulchers. They had the same stench and filth on the inside, but pretended to be holy on the outside. That is much worse.
"The scriptures reveal that the Lord will save his greatest wrath and condemnation for those who outwardly appear religious but who are actually full of evil within. Speaking to Jewish religious leaders, the Savior said, 'Cleanse first that which is within the cup. ... Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.' (Matt. 23:26-27.) Similarly, the great Book of Mormon leader, Moroni, wrote, 'God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first.' (Alma 60:23.)
"President Ezra Taft Benson left little room for doubt that these warnings apply to us. He declared, 'All is not well in Zion. ... We must cleanse the inner vessel, beginning first with ourselves, then with our families, and finally with the Church.' (Ensign, May 1986, p. 4.)
"There are two methods of cleansing the inner vessel. The first is repentance. But if we do not repent, the Lord will invoke the second method of cleansing-from without. One way or another, the vessel will be cleansed." (Larry Tippetts, "Cleansing the Inner Vessel: The Process of Repentance," Ensign, Oct. 1992, 21)
Psalm 5:11 let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy
John Taylor
The God we serve is not dead, he lives yet, and he hears the prayers of his servants, and he will stand by and save and deliver them, and Israel shall rejoice and truth shall prevail, and the kingdom of God will roll onward, and the purposes of God will be accomplished. The potsherds of the earth may strive with the potsherds of the earth; but in interfering with righteousness and virtue they may run against the fierce bosses of Jehovah's buckler, and he will tell them by and by to: "Stand back, touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm!" He will deliver Israel and his Saints shall be joyful in him.
Brethren, God bless Israel! I thought I would like to say a few words to you. Be not timid, any of you, for God is on the side of right, and he will protect his people; and let their enemies look out! Don't fight! You need not think anything about that. Fear God and keep your powder dry, but don't shoot anybody. Be ready always. Watch everybody in all their operations. Be quick, lively and energetic, but you need not fear. (Journal of Discourses, 14:270)