Five parts can be recognized in Psalm 5:
- A prayer requesting God to listen (5:1-3)
- A declaration that evil and arrogance cannot stand before the Lord (5:4-6)
- A desire to worship and the confidence of the righteous man (5:7-8)
- A rejection of the wicked and an identification of their sin (5:9-10)
- A request for protection of the righteous who enter into worship (5:11-12)
The psalmist alternates between seeking God and considering the wickedness that surrounds him through out Psalm 5. But, in the first two verses this Psalm begins with three imperatives requesting, even commanding, the Lord to “listen,” “consider,” and “hear.” The plea is for the Lord to hear not only the well-prepared thoughts that are expressed in “words,” but also the inexpressible, inarticulate emotions that fail to be vocalized. These inexpressible thoughts expressed in prayer are found in the Hebrew word translated “lament.” It is a word formed from a sound like our English words “bang,” “buzz,” “boom,” etc. called an onomatopoeic word. This word in Hebrew captures the sound of a person moaning, groaning, muttering, etc. Thus, the Psalmist is asking the Lord to “consider my groans” or “consider my moaning.” The Lord hears the desires, fears, concerns, needs and the thoughts of our heart that we, in our human nature, cannot express in language.
In contrast to the inexpressible thoughts is this statement in 5:4:
“in the morning I lay my requests before you.” (NIV)
Or, in the ESV:
“in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you.” (ESV)
The Hebrew verb translated “I prepare” or “I make preparations” can refer to the preparation of a sacrifice or, in contrast to the inarticulate groanings, “I prepare” can also refer to the preparation of words for a legal case or for a debate. The NIV translate this Hebrew verb “I lay my requests” and the ESV translated it “I prepare a sacrifice.” It could also be translated, “I prepare my requests” or “I prepare my words” which would mean not only is the Psalmist asking God to hear his inexpressible thoughts, but to also “Listen to my well prepared, articulate expression of my case as I make a formal presentation to you.”
After having asked the Lord to hear his words and his thoughts the Lord is told by the writer that he will “wait expectantly.” The prayers have been presented and now we “watch” confidently for the Lord’s response.