Psalm 5

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David dictating the Psalms,[1]

Psalm 5 is the fifth psalm from the Book of Psalms. Its authorship is traditionally assigned to king David. It is a reflection of how the righteous man prays for deliverance not only for freedom from suffering, but to allow himself to be able to serve God without distraction.[2]


David Beseeches God Against Evildoers.

Psalm 5 is within the genre of the morning prayer, because the morning was very important in the religions of the ancient Near East. Hence the verse 4 (3 in some versions). The Psalm opens with a lament, and continues with praise and requests that God punish evildoers. The psalmist describes the throat of the wicked as an open sepulcher. The Psalmist ends with a blessing extended to all those who trust in God.


The correct translation of the word Hebrew word הַנְּחִילֹ֗ות (in the superscription or verse 1) is unclear; the NRSV and the Luther Bible give it as "for flute" again.

The Septuagint, Vulgate and some Arabic translations attribute נחל from "inherit" meaning "per ea quae haereditatem consequitur"(vulgate) and κληρονομος (Septuagint). Accordingly, it would be translated into English as "in favor of those who receive the inheritance." Therefore, Augustine, Cassiodorus and others [3] had interpreted it as "those heirs of God".

A thoroughly Christological interpretation can be found in Martin Luther's work, who finds the third verse revealing that the humanization of man happens through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.[4]

Gerhard Ebeling sees in the Psalm both a complaining (verse 10) and also at the same time exultation and rejoicing (verse 12).[5]


Psalm 5 uses musical instruments, flutes. Psalm 4 was the first Psalm using a musical instrument, strings.

A new theme is introduced, the name of God with Psalm 5:11 "But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you." This is the first of five psalms 5,6,7,8 and 9 all speaking of the name of God, with 9 verses speaking to various aspects, namely Ps 5:11, ps 6:5, Ps 7:17, Ps 8:1, Ps 8:9, Ps 9:2, Ps 9:5 and Ps 9:10.[6] Various types of flow in the book of Psalms being explored by various authors such as O. Palmer Robertson.[7]

An emphasis of a particular genre of Psalm, the lament. In Ps 5:1 where God is called on to 'listen to my lament'. The most common genre of Psalm in the book of Psalms will be the lament.[8][9] Laments can be seen to occur more heavily in the first half of the book of Psalms,[10]



In Judaism, verse 8 of psalm 5 is the second verse from Ma Tovu.[11]

New Testament[edit]

Verse 9 is quoted in Romans 3:13.[12]

Catholic Church[edit]

According to the Rule of St. Benedict (530 AD), Psalm 1 to Psalm 20 were mainly reserved for office of Prime. Since the time of St. Benedict, the Rule of Benedict (530 AD) has used this psalm for the office Lauds on Monday (Chapter XIII)[13][14] In the Liturgy of the Hours, Psalm 5 is still recited or sung at Lauds on Monday of the first week.[15]

Book of Common Prayer[edit]

In the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 5 is appointed to be read on the morning of the first day of the month.[16]


Caspar cross Hamer (1546) created in 1537 the chorale An geystlich Bitlied drawn heavily from the Psalms.


  1. ^ David dictating the Psalms, codex binding in the Treasure of Saint-Denis, (Louvre France), end of the 10th century11th century.
  2. ^ The Artscroll Tehillim page 6
  3. ^ Augustinus: Enarrationes in Psalmos (vollständige englische Übersetzung), Cassiodor: Expositio in Psalterium.
  4. ^ Luther, M., Weimarer Ausgabe (Luther) 5,128f.
  5. ^ Gerhard Ebeling: Psalmenmeditation, (1968) p65.
  6. ^
  7. ^ O Palmer Robertson, The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theolog. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2015.
  8. ^ James K. Bruckner,Healthy Human Life: A Biblical Witness, 2012
  9. ^ John Bergsma and Brrant Pitre, A Catholic Introduction to the Old Testament, Ignatius Press
  10. ^
  11. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 12
  12. ^ Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1901). The Book of Psalms: with Introduction and Notes. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Book IV and V: Psalms XC-CL. Cambridge: At the University Press. p. 838. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  13. ^ Traduction par Prosper Guéranger, (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, réimpression, 2007) p41.
  14. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique,(1938/2003) p178.
  15. ^ The main cycle of liturgical prayers takes place over four weeks.
  16. ^ Church of England, Book of Common Prayer: The Psalter as printed by John Baskerville in 1762, p. 196ff

External links[edit]

  • Psalm 5 in Hebrew and English - Mechon-mamre
  • Psalm 5 King James Bible - Wikisource