December 31, 2017: Evening Verse Of The Day

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.
12  For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 5:11–12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

11–12 The just acts of God leading to the conviction and destruction of the wicked give the godly community reason to rejoice in his righteousness. The righteous acts of God include the preservation of the godly, “who take refuge” (see 7:1) in him, and their glorification, as they praise him for the establishment of his righteousness and justice on earth. The psalmist hopes that God’s judgment of the wicked will provide the righteous with greater reason to rejoice in the marvelous powers of salvation and victory, which he shares with his own. The “righteous” (v. 12; see 1:6) are the same as “those who love your name” (v. 11; cf. 69:36; 119:132). The wicked rebelled against his sovereignty, whereas the godly longed for his love and fellowship (cf. v. 7). They love the covenantal name Yahweh, for it is their shield. Yahweh protects his own under the cover of his wings (cf. 91:4).

The grand conclusion exalts Yahweh as the God who deals graciously with the righteous. Though the word “righteous” is not used with reference to God, the language of “blessing,” “protection,” and “favor” are all expressions of his righteous acts for his people. The hope of the godly lies in Yahweh, who will constantly guard his own as with a “shield.” The affirmative particle (“for surely,” v. 12), along with the emphatic use of “you,” forms a fitting conclusion to the prayer that began with an appeal to God’s kingship (v. 2). Truly the king will protect and care for his own. It has to be so! (See Reflections, p. 733, Yahweh Is the Divine Warrior.)

“You surround them” (v. 12) may also be translated as “you crown them” (taʿṭerennû). From one hand the Lord extends his protection and favor, likened to a “shield” (cf. 35:2; 91:4); from the other hand he bestows his royal glory on the godly (cf. 3:3). The crowning with his “favor” is an integral part of the blessing of the Lord (see A. A. Anderson, 1:86; cf. Dt 33:23; Ps 30:5).[1]

5:11–12 / While the wicked are to be excluded, all who take refuge in God are to find that refuge; God will spread his protection over them. “Your protection” is supplied by the translators because the Hebrew text has no direct object for “spread.” It is odd for this verb to lack an object. It may be that the reference to the symbolism of temple worship was readily apparent to the original worshipers. The Hebrew verb skk is frequently used in connection with the cherubim, whose wings “cover” the ark of the covenant (Exod. 25:20; 37:9; 1 Kgs. 8:7; 1 Chron. 28:18; cf. Ezek. 28:14, 16). Psalm 91:4 illustrates how the symbol of the protective cherubim became a metaphor for Yahweh himself: his feathers “cover” the one who “takes refuge” (the same words as in 5:11) under his wings. Also like 91:4, Psalm 5 shifts to a military metaphor for God: you surround them with your favor as with a shield. The symbol of the cherubim-chariot is in part a military image where “Yahweh of (the military) hosts” presides as warrior (see the Introduction).

The ultimate goal sought in this psalm is not entry into the temple or protection but joy, mentioned three times in the space of a single verse. And it is to be a joy enjoyed by both the worshipers themselves (let them be glad and sing for joy) and by God (rejoice in you). Joy is to have a central place in the pilgrimage with God.

It is interesting to note that the psalm distinguishes the two parties by different criteria. The enemies are described morally: they “do wrong, tell lies,” and are “bloodthirsty and deceitful.” The righteous, however, are described religiously: they “by your great mercy … come into your house, take refuge in you,” and “love your name.” The key feature that separates the righteous from the wicked is not their moral conduct but their affinity to Yahweh’s house. In addition, if we are correct in seeing Psalm 5 as the pilgrim’s confessional response to priestly entry liturgies like Psalms 15 and 24, it is striking to observe that it does not explicitly lay claim to the righteous behaviors prescribed in those psalms. Rather, it disclaims the company of the wicked and seeks entry into Yahweh’s holy temple by his great mercy and by self-descriptions such as “refugees” and “lovers of his name” (v. 11).[2]

5:11, 12 But while God deals with His enemies in judgment, may His friends always have reason to rejoice and shout for joy as they find Him to be their Refuge, strong and sure. May all who love Jehovah magnify Him as their unfailing Defender! No question about it—God does favor the righteous man; He will surround him with grace like a protective shield.[3]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 118–119). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (pp. 60–61). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 554). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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