I'm mulling over these words today from Psalm 5.
"Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my groaning." I'm groaning quite a bit these days, and talking to God. I hope groaning in this case, is different from the Israelites' murmuring and complaining.
"Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God." We are crying out for help. Who better to give it to us, than a King?
"For to Thee do I pray. In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch." My mornings now are very rich, full and long with time in God's Word. I'm still reading in Joshua, but also in the New Testament. James reminds us how to live out our Christianity. Watch our words. Don't just say, but do. Paul wrote Thessalonians to young believers who were being persecuted, to comfort them. I'm also reading Elisabeth Elliot's Discipline, The Glad Surrender. If ever there were a writer who understood discipline, it's she. She gives practical instructions on how to discipline the mind, the emotions, one's possessions. Excellent, as always. -- So, each morning I pray, and I do watch for what God will do in response. And in recent days, I've decided to follow Job's example, and go back through the years, and pray specifically for each of the people in our lives who has harmed or damaged us. (Job 42:10) This is hard going, but I find it does wonders for the heart. It is easier praying for those from years ago; the pain is gone, and I feel only sorrow for the sins they committed that harmed us. I want the Lord's mercy for them.
"O, LORD, lead me in Thy righteousness because of my foes; make Thy way straight before me." When one has enemies, it's easy for one's path to go astray, to become crooked and then lead to a bad, dead end. Feelings of hurt, pain and anger do not lead me into God's righteousness. And sometimes an enemy's actions can dislodge one's path in life. I end up "de-railed" because someone did me wrong. Sin always produces broken relationships, and sometimes other broken items as well. But the psalmist (and I) want a straight path, a road that leads to God's holiness. We want His way only. We want it to be plain and clear. I'm praying these days for that kind of path, and for our enemies (yes, we have them; do you?) not to distract us from it.
David has other words for his enemies in this psalm too, hard words of condemnation and God's vengeance. Sometimes his enemies were from pagan tribes, but just as often they were from God's own people, Israel. How heart-breaking and hard that is! David's attitude is consistent: he leaves the enemy to God and God's justice. David cannot presume to know who will receive mercy and forgiveness as he has, but he does recognize sin when he sees it. And he knows sin is detestable to God. David is always on safe ground when he asks God to punish sin.
But I remember Job's reaction to those who harmed him. He prayed for them, because he did not consider them enemies; throughout the book, they are called Job's friends. Usually this term is used sarcastically toward these men, but I imagine they thought they were right, in their judgment of Job. Perhaps they felt they were being helpful. But in the end, God blessed Job, not because his friends had been right, but because Job had mercy in his heart, and prayed for these errant men.
Can you pray for those who have wounded you? Can I say, with Jesus, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"? Can I distinguish between a foolish friend who needs prayer, as Job's friends did, and the true enemy of God who deserves destruction?
Lead me, Lord. Lead me in Thy righteousness.