Psalm 5 is often described as an example of a prayer of someone who has been falsely accused
of wrongdoing. Based on the contents of the middle part of the psalm, its wisdom features and
especially the parallels it forms with Psalm 1, it is argued in this article that the editors of the
Psalter attempted to present the psalm as a prayer of David at the time of his flight from
Absalom. In this prayer of the endangered king, he (prophetically) pronounced judgement on
the actions and attitudes of his opponents and respectfully entrusted himself to the care of
Yahweh. In its literary context, the psalm was therefore probably meant to censure arrogant
and irreligious compatriots of the editors, because they exploited fellow Jews, and also to
provide hope and encouragement to those exploited members of the in-group.
To name a few exegetes: Kraus (1978:175), Seybold (1996:40) and Weber (2001:63). Weiser (1962:123) simply classifies it as an
‘individual lament’ according to its ‘form and subject-matter’. Anderson (1972:81) also says it is an individual lament or else a
prayer of a falsely accused man. Mowinckel (2014:808) considers Psalm 5 to be a ‘sin-offering psalm’, which served as a prayer for
one who needed cleansing from the effects of sorcerers and demons. There are also those who express doubt that the psalm was
intended for such a purpose, for example, Terrien (2003:105). Goldingay (2006:127) asserts that there are no pointers to a specific
speaker or context for which it was designed. Prinsloo (1998:629, n. 9) lists the authors who describe the psalm as an individual
lament (with some variation, such as that it approaches the quality of a psalm of confidence or of innocence; cf. also Prinsloo
1998:629, n. 10).
The author would like to acknowledge the input of his retired
colleague and friend, J. Henk Potgieter, with whom the topic
was discussed on numerous occasions during the research
and composition of the article.