on Psalms 5 :1
Give ear to my words - This is properly a morning hymn, as the preceding was an evening hymn. We have seen from the conclusion of the last Psalm that David was very happy, and lay down and slept in the peace and love of his God. When he opens his eyes on the following morning, he not only remembers but feels the happiness of which he spoke; and with his first recollections he meditates on the goodness and mercy of God, and the glorious state of salvation into which he had been brought. He calls on God to give ear to his words; probably words of God's promises which he had been pleading.
on Psalms 5 :1
Upon Nehiloth - The title of Psalm 4:1-8 is, "upon Neginoth." As that refers to a musical instrument, so it is probable that this does, and that the idea here is that this psalm was intended particularly for the music-master that had special charge of this instrument, or who presided over those that played on it. Perhaps the idea is that this psalm was specially designed to be accompanied with this instrument. The word here, Nehiloth - נחילות nechı̂ylôth, plural. נחילה nechı̂ylâh, singular - is supposed by Gesenius, Lexicon, to denote a flute, or pipe, as being "perforated," from חלל châlal, to bore." The word occurs only in this place. Very various opinions have been entertained of its meaning. See Hengstenberg, "Com." The Latin Vulgate and the Septuagint understand it as meaning "inheritance" - the same as נחלה nachălâh, and as being somehow designed to refer to the people of God "as" a heritage. Latin Vulgate: In finem pro ca, quae hereditatem consequitur, psalmus David. So the Septuagint - ὑπὲρ τῆς κληρονομούσης huper tēs klēronomousēs. So Luther, Fur das Erbe. What was the precise idea affixed to this it is not very easy to determine. Luther explains it, "according to the title, this is the general idea of the psalm, that the author prays for the inheritance or heritage of God, desiring that the people of God may be faithful to him, and may always adhere to him." The true interpretation, however, is evidently to regard this as an instrument of music, and to consider the psalm as adapted to be sung with the instrument of music specified. Why it was adapted particularly to "that" instrument of music cannot now be determined. Horsley renders it "upon the flutes." Compare Ugolin. Thesau. Ant. Sac.; tom. xxxii. pp. 158-170.
A Psalm of David - See introduction to Psalm 3:1-8.
Give ear to my words, O Lord - We naturally incline the ear toward anyone when we wish to hear distinctly what he says, and we turn away the ear when we do not. The meaning here is, David prayed that God would be attentive to or would regard his prayer. This form of the petition is, that he would attend to his "words" - to what he was about to "express" as his desire. He intended to express only what he wished to be granted.
Consider my meditation - Understand; perceive, for so the word rendered "consider" properly means. He desired that he would regard the real import of what is here called his "meditation;" that is, he wished him not merely to attend to his "words," but to the secret and unexpressed desires of the soul. The idea seems to be that while his words would be sincere and truthful, yet they could not express "all" his meaning. There were desires of the soul which no language could convey - deep, unuttered "groanings" (compare Romans 8:26-27), which could not be uttered in language. There is a difference, however, in rendering the word translated "meditation." Most interpreters regard it as derived from הגה hâgâh, to meditate (see the notes at Psalm 1:2) - and as thus denoting "thought," or "meditation." Gesenius and some others regard it as derived from הגג hāgag, obsolete root - meaning to set on fire, to kindle; and hence, that it means here "heat," fervour of the mind; and then, fervent cry, or prayer. See "Rosenmuiller" also in "loc." DeWette concurs with Gesenius, and supposes that it should be rendered "sigh" or complaint. Prof. Alexander renders it "thought." Horsley renders it, "my sighing," but says he is in doubt whether it refers to an "internal desire of the mind," in opposition to "words" in the former part of the verse, or to a "prayer uttered sotto voce, like the private prayer usually said by every person before he takes his seat in the church" - the "internal motion of the mind toward God." It is not easy to determine the true meaning, but the probability is that it refers to an internal emotion - a fervent, ardent feeling - perhaps finding partial expression in sighs Romans 8:26, but which does not find expression in words, and which words could not convey. He prayed that God would attend to the "whole" desires of the soul - whether expressed or unexpressed.
on Psalms 5 :1
5:1 Meditation - My prayer accompanied with deep thoughts and fervent affections of soul.