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  ‘The Morning Watch’ Psalm 5:1-12: “In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].” (v3)

It is very vital that our God speaks to our heart from our quiet time with Him! From our sermon of last week we learnt, that in an age of turmoil and tension that we discover that those ‘still waters’ of which the Bible so eloquently speaks of is found in the Quiet Time with our God. If you are too busy to have a Quiet Time, then, quite frankly, you are probably too busy. It is likely you will have to deal with issues during the day that you might have been better prepared for had you begun the day differently. Let me make clear once again that I am not advocating a legalistic attitude to this issue, for there are some days when circumstances make it quite impossible to keep to a routine. But as far as possible, try to begin every day by spending a little time with God in prayer and the reading of His Word. One shepherd described his feelings of exasperation (meaning a feeling of intense irritation or annoyance) when, taking his sheep to a clean, quiet stream to be watered, he found many of them stopping to drink from small, dirty, muddy pools beside the trail. ‘The water in these pools was filthy and polluted,’ he said, ‘but the sheep were quite sure it was the best drink obtainable’. How sad that so many Christians are like those stubborn sheep –they stop to drink at any stream except the pure waters of God’s eternal Word. From what source do you draw your spiritual strength? I asked a man who was struggling in life if he kept a daily Quiet Time and the naïve reply came: ‘Yes, I spend 10 to 15 minutes every day reading Shakespeare.’ One couple said that their Quiet Time was to sit quietly and read the newspaper for half an hour after breakfast. When these sincere people set up a real Quiet Time, in which they took on board the quietening and quickening resources of God, they found their lives transformed. Shakespeare and the daily newspaper may make interesting reading, but they are poor substitutes for the Word of God. But unfortunately this is exactly where many people spend their quiet time which is why we lack vision and divine guidance in life. Let us be realistic with God’s Word and make great effort to become embodiment of God’s Word by allowing Christ into our life to guide and lead us.

  The God Who Hears (Psalm 5:1–12):

Now let us read Psalm 5:1-12; 1 Listen to my words, O Lord, give heed to my sighing and groaning. 2 Hear the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You do I pray. 3 In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart]. 4 For You are not a God Who takes pleasure in wickedness; neither will the evil [man] so much as dwell [temporarily] with You. 5 Boasters can have no standing in Your sight; You abhor all evildoers. 6 You will destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors [and rejects] the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. 7 But as for me, I will enter Your house through the abundance of Your steadfast love and mercy; I will worship toward and at Your holy temple in reverent fear and awe of You. 8 Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way level (straight and right) before my face. 9 For there is nothing trustworthy or steadfast or truthful in their talk; their heart is destruction [or a destructive chasm, a yawning gulf]; their throat is an open sepulcher; they flatter and make smooth with their tongue. 10 Hold them guilty, O God; let them fall by their own designs and counsels; cast them out because of the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You. 11 But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits. 12 For You, Lord, will bless the [uncompromisingly] righteous [him who is upright and in right standing with You]; as with a shield You will surround him with goodwill (pleasure and favor).

  Introduction:

The Psalm is traditionally attributed to David. It reflects how the righteous man prays for deliverance not only for freedom from suffering, but to allow himself to serve God without distraction. It is clear from the contents of this Psalm—as is the case with so many of the other Psalms—that David was facing affliction. As was so often the case, God-hating enemies opposed him. But what stands out in this particular Psalm is David’s confidence that God would hear him. He expresses his confidence in vv. 1–3, and then explains the reason for his confidence in vv. 4–12. What about you, do you normally express your confidence in God? Assuming your friend ask you, can you be able to explain to that friend of yours the reason for having confidence in God? Illustration: Over the Easter weekend in 2015, Doug preached a three-part sermon series from the Gospel accounts of Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection. The first sermon was titled, “Dear God, it’s Thursday.” The second was titled, “Oh, my God, it’s Friday.” The third was titled, “Thank God it’s Sunday.” I remember sitting next to my eldest daughter that Friday morning, who was eight at the time said the narrator. When Doug mentioned the title of the sermon, she leaned over to me and, horrified, whispered, “Dad, Uncle Doug said, ‘Oh my God’!” Like probably most parents in our Church, we have taught her that that exclamation, which is almost omnipresent in the society in which we live, is a vain use of God’s name (a violation of the third commandment), and she therefore must not say it recklessly. She was mortified to hear Uncle Doug say the very words that we told her not to say. I think it’s right to teach our kids not to use the word “God” in that unthinking way. Of course, the phrase can be used reverently, but that is not typically how it is heard in society. It can fairly be said that, more often than not, when the words “oh my God” are used, they are employed in a way that amounts to taking the name of God in vain. But as good as it is to be aware of that, and to avoid it ourselves, and to teach our children to avoid it, we do well to remember that there are a whole range of other ways in which we can take God’s name in vain. One of those ways, believe it or not, is when we pray. Thomas Watson explains: Faith is a grace that greatly honors God. But when we pray to God, but do not mix faith with our prayer, we take His name in vain. It is to dishonor God and take His name in vain; it makes Him either an idol, that has ears and hears not; or a liar, who promises mercy to the penitent, but will not make good His word. Thus to pray and not believe, is to take God’s name in vain, and highly dishonors God, as if He were not such a God as the Word represents Him: “For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive [our trespasses, sending them away, letting them go completely and forever]; and You are abundant in mercy and loving-kindness to all those who call upon You.” (Psalm 86:5). David frequently experienced opposition from those who did not serve God as he did, and this is often evident from his writings in the Psalms. Psalm 5 is one of such Psalm. As was so often the case, God-hating enemies opposed him. But what stands out in this particular Psalm is David’s confidence that God would hear him. He expresses his confidence in vv. 1–3, and then explains the reason for his confidence in vv. 4–12. His goal was to give his readers confidence that the God to whom we pray is the God who hears. So whenever you are approaching God be very mindful of your use of words, do not use words recklessly as majority of people do, make sure your words are such that expresses your faith and confidence in God avoiding faithlessness in God. The Expression of Confidence; Often, when I arrive at home at the end of the work day, my two children hear the gate open and the car pull in. I then find them, having pulled aside the curtain, standing on the window sill, holding onto the burglar bars, and looking out into the front yard. As soon as I turn off the car engine and open the driver’s side door, they begin yelling excitedly to me, competing with one another to tell me about what happened that day. It is a similar sense of excited anticipation that we encounter in the opening verses of this Psalm. 1 Listen to my words, O Lord, give heed to my sighing and groaning. 2 Hear the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You do I pray. 3 In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart]. (Psalm 5:1-3) We will read in a moment of the reason that David lifted his prayer to the Lord, but for now it is important to notice that he did so, and that he did so with anticipation. David asked the Lord to “give ear” or “Listen to” and to “give attention” or “give heed” to his prayer. Sometimes, he prayed with clearly articulated “words.” Sometimes, his prayer was simply the “groaning” of his heart. Regardless, as he lifted prayer to the Lord “in the morning,” he was confident that the Lord would “hear his voice.” He, therefore, prepared his “sacrifice” of prayer, and then stood to “watch.” The word translated “watch” is important here. The word literally means “to lean forward,” and carries the implication of peering into the distance. It is used several times in the Old Testament of a city watchman, deliberately scanned the horizon in expectation of something or someone arriving. David lifted his prayer to God as a “sacrifice,” and then expectantly sat watching for the answer to arrive. He was fully confident that God would answer, and so he waited, as it were, with bated breath for the answer to arrive. So you can see that two vital things for you to have an answered prayer are full confidence in God and an attitude to wait on God! How often do we pray, but really only go through the motions, not believing that God will answer? It’s fair to say that the major reason we don’t pray as we ought is because we don’t believe God, but it is equally true that, even when we do pray, we sometimes pray faithlessly. And that says a lot about our understanding of and reverence for God. It is, as Watson said, to take God’s name in vain. One thing we must know is that waiting on God is very important! Once you lose the attitude and divine life style of waiting on God, the tendency is that we are likely to begin to develop faithlessness towards God in a manner that seem as if God is wasting our time and thus make it appear as if we are the one to decide for God what we want Him to do for us, how we want it and when we want it. This is the attitude that rules man today in the things of God which is why many of our requests to God are not attended to because once as we normally feel God is beginning to waste our time in answering our prayers, we face another side and begin to chase our option B which never come because God is the only provider. Do you pray with a sense of expectation that God will answer? We’ve heard testimony in recent weeks from the members on Sunday Worship about how God answers prayer—and how He does so in such a way that it is obvious to all that He is answering. And yet we far too often pray but then fail to “watch” for the answer. But what gave David such confidence in prayer? His confidence lay in the person to whom He was praying: “the LORD”—Yahweh. “LORD” in all caps is a translation of, Yahweh, the covenant name of Israel’s God. Yahweh was David’s “King” and his “God.” David was confident that the God who had entered into covenant with him would hear and answer his prayer. He could therefore “watch” for the answer to his cry. Our lack of watchfulness is another factor we must be very careful of. Many of us do not know how to watch and wait on God! Please let us learn it. The Explanation of Confidence: In vv. 4–12, David essentially expands the reason for his confidence. At grassroots level, he was confident because Yahweh is a God of covenant keeping. But in these remaining verses, he lists four characteristics of the covenant Lord that undergirded (to support something by forming a strong base for it:) his confidence.

   God is Holy;

First, he recognizes that God is holy. 4 For You are not a God Who takes pleasure in wickedness; neither will the evil [man] so much as dwell [temporarily] with You. 5 Boasters can have no standing in Your sight; You abhor all evildoers. 6 You will destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors [and rejects] the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalm 5:4-6) Holiness is the cardinal characteristic of God. Everything else we know about God must be understood in light of His holiness. Sproul captures this well in his classic, The Holiness of God: When we use the word holy to describe God, we face another problem. We often describe God by compiling a list of qualities or characteristics that we call attributes. We say that God is a Spirit, that He knows everything, that He is loving, just, merciful, gracious, and so on. The tendency is to add the idea of holiness to this long list of attributes as one attribute among many. But when the word holy is applied to God, it does not signify one single attribute. On the contrary, God is called holy in a general sense. The word is used as a synonym for His deity. That is, the word Holy calls attention to all that God is. It reminds us that His love is Holy love, His justice is Holy justice, His mercy is Holy mercy, His knowledge is Holy knowledge, His spirit is Holy Spirit; so everything about our God is Holy! God’s holiness means that He stands apart from “wickedness” and “evil.” We humans can be tempted to trivialize (make (something) seem less important, significant, or complex than it really is) and acclimatize (become accustomed to a new climate or new conditions; adjust) to evil, but God never and will never “delight in wickedness,” and “evil” never “dwells with” Him. If we are honest, we will admit that we are tempted to be entertained by that which God hates. But God never delights in wickedness and evil and they never dwells with Him. God’s hatred for evil and wickedness is not a detached irritation. On the contrary, He so hates “evildoers” (note that He hates “evildoers,” not only the evil that they do!) that they will “not stand before” Him. In fact, God will “destroy” them, for He “abhors” them and the evil that they do. Do we really understand how much God hates evil? If we do, at least two things will result. First, we will “Therefore, since these [great] promises are ours, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to completeness in the [reverential] fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1). If we call ourselves children of God, we will certainly hate what God hates—to such a degree that we will avoid such things. But, Second, we will grow in our appreciation for the gospel. As much as God hates and abhors and is determined to punish wickedness and evil, it is “while we were still sinners” that “Christ died for us” “8 But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. 9 Therefore, since we are now justified ([a]acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more [certain], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His [[b]resurrection] life.” (Romans 5:8–10). What amazing grace! The God who “hate[s] all evildoers” gave His Son to save evildoers of whom you and I are one! God is Love; Second, David recognizes that God is love. 7 But as for me, I will enter Your house through the abundance of Your steadfast love and mercy; I will worship toward and at Your holy temple in reverent fear and awe of You. 8 Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way level (straight and right) before my face. (v7-8) David’s confidence in these verses highlights the covenant love of God. “Steadfast love” translates that great covenant word heed, which describes God’s determined kindness to those with whom He is in covenant. It is evident that David’s reliance was on God’s heed and not his own merit, for he had just said in v. 6 that “the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.” David, of course, had murdered Uriah (“bloodthirsty”) and had lied (“deceitful”) to cover it up. And yet He distances Himself (“But I”) from the bloodthirsty and deceitful. Clearly, God’s “steadfast love,” and not his, David’s own inherent righteousness, was his David’s hope. David’s confidence resided in Yahweh’s “righteousness,” not his David’s own. James Johnston notes that we can reject God’s “steadfast love” in two ways. On the one hand, we can choose to live as antinomians, as those who throw off all restraint of law and openly embrace sin. Antinomianism is any view which rejects laws or legalism and argues against moral, religious or social norms. Irreligion is a rejection of God’s “steadfast love,” and is easy to spot. Today you can agree with me that this rejection of laws or legalism and argues against moral, religious or social norms is the order of the day because humans are very much getting inclined to canalize life and worldliness. But there is a second, more insidious means of rejecting “steadfast love,” and that is by legalism. We can fall into the trap of thinking that our religion—Church attendance, Bible reading, prayer, etc.—secures our favor before God. But to stand secure means to confess that God has a standard that we cannot keep, to acknowledge that Christ kept that standard on behalf of those He came to save, and to therefore cast ourselves wholly on Him for mercy. We must find our confidence in His mercy, not our merit. God is Just; Third, David reflects on God’s justice. 9 For there is nothing trustworthy or steadfast or truthful in their talk; their heart is destruction [or a destructive chasm, a yawning gulf]; their throat is an open sepulcher; they flatter and make smooth with their tongue. 10 Hold them guilty, O God; let them fall by their own designs and counsels; cast them out because of the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You. (v9-10) David has already shown that Yahweh hates evildoers and the evil that they do. Now he states the character of those who opposed Him God: They exemplify everything that God hates. The evidence of v. 9, “9 For there is nothing trustworthy or steadfast or truthful in their talk; their heart is destruction [or a destructive chasm, a yawning gulf]; their throat is an open sepulcher; they flatter and make smooth with their tongue” speaks for itself what this kind of people are because there is no hiding from God. In light of the evidence, David appeals in v. 10, “10 Hold them guilty, O God; let them fall by their own designs and counsels; cast them out because of the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You” for the Lord to declare them guilty and to execute justice against them. He asks this, not because he seeks personal vengeance, but because “they have rebelled against You God.” Notice that it is only a person who is truly on God’s side by image who can talk likes this! And this is exactly where the entire people are divided into two groups; only can be identified by God! It is easy for us to fall into the trap of praying against evildoers because of the inconvenience or hurt that they cause us. We do well to remember that personal vendettas have no place in the prayers of the saints. But when we are moved by God’s glory, and by the good of God’s people, it is not always wrong for us to ask for justice. While we should not gloat at the fall of our enemy “17 Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown” (Proverbs 24:17), it is not wrong to rejoice when righteousness is exercised, “10 The [unyieldingly] righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 Men will say, Surely there is a reward for the [uncompromisingly] righteous; surely there is a God Who judges on the earth.” (Psalm 58:10–11) and to therefore pray for justice—for God’s glory. The rejoicing is that after all our God judges sin and sinners! The Bible reveals God to be a God of justice, who will exercise full and final justice at Judgment Day. To pray for justice is perfectly in line with the character of God—so long as we are motivated by God’s glory and not (exclusively) our own comfort.

  God is Kind;

Finally, David acknowledges God’s kindness. 11 But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits. 12 For You, Lord, will bless the [uncompromisingly] righteous [him who is upright and in right standing with You]; as with a shield You will surround him with goodwill (pleasure and favor). (v11-12) The glory of the gospel is that, although He is holy and hates sin, and is just and punishes sin, God is also loving and kind to forgive sin. Everyone who will “take refuge” in God has cause to “rejoice.” Moabites, according to Deuteronomy 23, were forbidden access to God’s people and God’s covenant. Ruth was a Moabite who was a recipient of God’s covenant love. How could she, a Moabite, experience God’s favor when God had explicitly rejected the Moabites? It was because she took refuge under the wings of the God of Israel, “12 The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under Whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:12). God receives all who sincerely come to Him for refuge. Those who “take refuge” in Him can “rejoice” and “sing for joy” because they know that He has “spread [His] protection over them.” They are counted “righteous” and are privileged to have Yahweh “cover [them] with favor as with a shield.” Of course, this protection and favor is found in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died to save sinners and rose again for their justification. Those who love their sin and rebel against Him are destined for ultimate justice—for destruction at the hand of God, who is a consuming fire. But those who love His name and take refuge in Him have the promise of forgiveness and eternal life. David was confident that God would hear and answer his prayer, not because he was so inherently righteous, but because he was one who, though sinful, took refuge in the God of the Bible. Though he lived a thousand years before Christ, he believed God’s promise that the seed of the woman was coming to crush the head of the serpent. Through faith in the seed of the woman, he received God’s covenant love, and he knew that the covenant God, who had lavished covenant love on him, would hear and answer his prayer. Have you taken refuge in the God of the Bible through the person of His Son, Lord Jesus Christ? If so, you can rejoice and exult in Him, and when you pray, you can offer to Him a sacrifice—and “watch.” After all, “the LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous”, “29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the [consistently] righteous (the upright, in right standing with Him).”(Proverbs 15:29). Conclusion: Dr. Vance Havner admits, “It is easier to comfort the afflicted than to afflict the comfortable, but there is need for both.” Where do you stand right now? Are you afflicted or are you comfortable? Remember there’s hope and help when you hurt; and it only come from the Lord our God!
Dear Lord and Father, forgive me, that so often I foolishly and stupidly stop and drink at the muddy pools of this world’s broken cistern when You are seeking to lead me to the pure water of Your Word. Please Lord help me to drink from the clear springs of Your eternal truth so that I will be lead to inherit Your paradise. In Your name Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!