Just a few more thoughts on the following passage and then I will move on 😊
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness”
This is a good thing. Think about the implications of a God who delighted in wickedness…that’s not the kind of God we want and I am grateful to serve a God who both confronts and offers freedom from the wickedness we find in ourselves.
“Evil may not dwell with you”
God is building and will finally establish a kingdom in which there is no sin. Right now, we live in a world where evil does dwell…it’s brought pain, sickness, death, rape, abuse, broken relationships, holocausts, genocide, and wars, just to name a few things- and many of the worst of these evils, at their core, are what we find in all of us, pride, selfishness, self-idolatry, lust for power and pleasure and control. If God winked at sin, even the “small” sins within us that we don’t find so bad, and let it dwell with him and be in his kingdom that he is building, then what we have now here on earth would be our final hope.
“The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;”
The very nature of the sin in us, will always buck against God, His authority, His sufficiency, and His good design. The boast in us; the part of us that says, I want my way, I am good enough, God can’t say that, God isn’t good, God isn’t enough, look at the kingdom that I built, look at the identity I have, celebrate me, celebrate us, we can rule ourselves and bring about our own utopia in our own image, we know what will make us happy and whole, we know more than God…. these are all boasts that can’t stand before God. Here are some more boasts that might hit closer to home for some of us…look at the church I built, look at the ministry I have, look at the “high calling” of leadership I have, look at our superior philosophy of ministry, we are better than those Charismatics, Anglicans, Arminians, megachurch people over there, our church is the only one who gets it truly right, look at the kingdom we are building here at _______________________ (insert your churches name, your seminary, your denomination, your theological distinctives, your political distinctives, your group, your tribe). These are other sorts of boasts that God intends to be rid of as well. In God’s kingdom, unity amongst his people will be perfected, because what we will boast in is Jesus and Jesus alone; our King. So rid yourself of your boast that isn’t in Christ alone, because it cannot stand before God’s eyes.
“You hate all evildoers“
God hates all evildoers. We should come away from this passage realizing that the sin in us is serious. That God hates it. I don’t want to soften this fact. When you read this, it should make you pause. Some have been taught that God’s love means he winks at sin, this passage is meant to make you stop and contend with a God who uses very strong language for how he feels about sin.
However, this passage makes even those of us who understand that God takes sin seriously, uncomfortable, because it doesn’t just say, “God’s hates sin,” it says, “God hates the sinner.” I don’t have any brilliant explanations for this and how this fits into passages that clearly states God love for sinners, but as I was wrestling with this verse I continually kept being reminded that just below this statement of God’s hate, God saw fit to speak of his abundant steadfast love. My conclusion at this point is this; God is complex and multifaceted. He hates and he loves; and his love and hate do not work against each other and are not separated from each other.
Our God is not to be compartmentalized or cornered into a box; “you either have to love sinners or hate sinners, you can’t have it both ways!” And yet we as complex humans who have been sinned against greatly by those we love can understand the complexity of emotions that can course through our veins for those individuals- anger and grief, love and hate, desire for reconciliation and closeness and desire to run away and separate ourselves from those who have hurt us. I am not comparing the quality or morality of our love or hatred with God’s, I am only trying to help us understand that if we, finite and created human beings have capacity for complex, multidimensional, and often seemingly contradictory emotion and disposition, how much greater capacity does our infinite God have for complexity of emotion and disposition towards his created beings.
Furthermore, we cannot compartmentalize the different parts of God as if they do not interact with one another. We do this a lot in our systematic theologies. (I am not against systematizing theology; we only need to be aware of its weaknesses and acknowledge them where we see them.) When we systematize God, the unintended affect is that we depersonalize him by chopping him up into little bits of unconnected information. God is holy. God is love. God is wrathful. God is just. God is unchangeable. But God is not all these things separately, he is all these things together. He is a person, complex, nuanced, and relational and not to be chopped up into bits of information to simply study and analyze.
Instead of revealing himself through a systematic theology (which is how he could have done it), he reveals himself and his plans through stories, prayers, poems, songs, saying, letters, records of how he has interacted with specific humans being and nations throughout the course of history, and then ultimately through Jesus.
My point is this, Psalm 5 is given to us, and it reveals both God’s hate and his love and it is significant that God puts these two together. We cannot look at these two characteristics of God separately or pit them against each other as if God is a bi-polar schizophrenic. We must see them together, we must see how his hatred for sin is a function of his love and how his love requires him to hate sin and to ultimately reject, and in effect, hate the sinner who insist on their sin remaining, and who insists on their own kingdom over-against the kingdom of love and righteousness that God is building.
“You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the blood-thirsty and deceitful man.“
God tells us the truth. The Devil is a liar (John 8:44). The first temptation by the devil was worked through a lie and deception. The very sin nature in us was planted by a lie about God and his good intentions towards us. Lies cannot live in God’s kingdom, lies about God and about people bring about injustice and in God’s kingdom there will be perfect justice. Injustice that is allowed to remain inevitably brings about bloodshed and violence. Lies, deceit, and bloodshed go together, and God is building a kingdom of truth, unity, justice, and peace because he loves. Those who insist on following the lies of Satan cannot be a part of God’s kingdom and will be destroyed along with the kingdom of lies that Satan has and is building in this world.
I have wrestled a long time with how to end this post. I think I will simply leave you with God’s call to his people who had chosen to live in their wickedness instead of following God’s better way for them.
He says through the prophet Ezekiel,
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ez. 33:11)
Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so, turn, and live.”
God in his love desires that we turn from our sin, to Him, and the kingdom He is building. So, I invite you to turn, find forgiveness and freedom from the sin that enslaves you and the kingdom of darkness that Satan is building, and be transferred into the kingdom of Jesus, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13,14).