What does Psalm 5:8 mean?
ESV: Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
NIV: Lead me, LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies-- make your way straight before me.
NASB: Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before me.
CSB: Lord, lead me in your righteousness because of my adversaries; make your way straight before me.
NLT: Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow.
KJV: Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.
NKJV: Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face.
Verse Commentary:
In the middle of dangerous circumstances (2 Samuel 15:13–14), David prioritizes the will of God. He asks the Lord to guide him, in no small part because there are evil men seeking to kill him (Psalm 3:1). Wicked men lay in wait to kill David, so he needed to follow the Lord's guidance to stay safe and to persevere in righteousness.

We, too, need guidance from the Lord as we navigate through a world that seeks to conform us to its philosophy and conduct. Jesus said His sheep hear His voice and follow Him, literally taking the same road he takes (John 10:4). Romans 12:2 exhorts us to not be conformed to this world, and 1 John 2:15 counsels: "Do not love the world or the things in the world." First John 2:16 explains, "For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world." The evil world system seeks to destroy our testimony as surely as David's enemies wanted to destroy him, so we need to follow the path God has drawn out for us in His Word.
Verse Context:
Psalm 5:7–12 reflects David's confidence in God's justice. The Lord punishes the guilty but rewards the righteous. Other passages tell us the Lord loves righteousness and justice (Psalm 36; 58; 97). Isaiah 30, Luke 18, and Romans 1 reveal these characteristics of God, as well. Romans 3 paints the entire human race as guilty before God, but Romans 4—6 show how God justifies the guilty who believe on His crucified and risen Son Jesus (John 3:16–18). David's prayer for blessing resembles the apostle Paul's benedictions at the close of some of his epistles (1 Corinthians 16:23; Galatians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:28).
Chapter Summary:
Psalm 5 begins with David's urgent prayer for the Lord to heed his groaning and cry. He addresses the Lord as his King and his God, and indicates that he prays in the morning and watches for an answer. He recognizes that God takes no pleasure in the wicked but destroys evil, lying, bloodthirsty, or deceitful men. He anticipates that the God who loves him will allow him to enter the tabernacle, where he will offer reverential worship. He prays for the Lord's leading so that he will escape his enemies, whom he identifies as devoid of truth and violent. He prays further that the Lord will cause those rebels to bear the consequences of their transgressions. The psalm closes with an appeal to the righteous to sing for joy as they take refuge in the Lord, and David asks the Lord to bless and protect the righteous.
Chapter Context:
Like Psalm 4, this psalm is connected to Psalm 3. Psalm 3 refers to David's rising up in the morning, whereas Psalm 4 refers to his nighttime sleep. This psalm is addressed to the choirmaster. Like Psalms 3 and 4, Psalm 5 was composed by David in the wilderness, when Absalom's forces sought to destroy him (see 2 Samuel 15—18). This is one of the ''imprecatory psalms,'' so called because they pray for God to destroy the wicked. The imprecatory psalms are Psalms 5, 12, 35, 37, 58, 59, 69, 79, 83, 108, 139, and 140. These psalms urge God to judge those who oppose God and His people. Imprecations are also found elsewhere in the Bible, such as in passages like Jeremiah 11:18–20,15:15, 17:18, 18:19–23, 20:11–12; 1 Corinthians 16:22, and Revelation 6:10.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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