Psalm 5: The Hatred and Love of God

God hates sin

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.

I spend most of my life downplaying the seriousness of my sins in order to appease my conscience. It is precisely because of this that I need reminders of how God views my acts of rebellion against him. He hates it. He cannot allow it to dwell in His presence. If I claim to walk with God, and yet continue to treat my disobedience as “not that bad” then I offend God and deceive myself. I needed to hear this. Oh how I needed to hear this! I sit far too comfortably with sin and I praise God for reminding me just how serious my sins are.

God hates sinners

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.

So it turns out that the popular saying “God loves the sinner but hates the sin” is not entirely true. It is not entirely false either but lacks some important qualifications and so has the potential to distort our view of God. We cannot separate our sin from our identity in God’s sight. If I sin then I am a sinner. If I commit murder then I am a murderer. If I commit adultery then I am an adulterer. If I lie then I am a lier. If I slander then I am a slanderer etc. So God’s anger and hatred of all things immoral are justly directed to the sinner as well as the sin. I am the source of all of my evil deeds and God hates me because of this. God is not angry because of the things we do. He is angry because of who we are. Jonathan Edwards gets it right when he says:

“The God that holds you over the pit of Hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his Wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince…”

I thank God for reminding me of the seriousness of my sinfulness. May I remember it every time I entertain the idea of sin and may it protect me from thinking I am more highly of myself than I should.

God loves sinners

I know that this seems contradictory. How can God love sinners and hate sinners at the same time? The answer is that some of those sinners are His people and, even though they are sinners, he loves them as his own children because he has forgiven them.

So who are God’s people? Here are 5 characteristics of the people of God found in this Psalm:

  • God’s people are those who humbly recognise that it is purely by the love and grace of God that they will be allowed into his presence.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
    will enter your house.

  • God’s people are those who understand that God deserves our complete obedience and, who fear him enough to turn away from their sins to worship him.

I will bow down towards your holy temple
    in the fear of you.

  • God’s people run to God for refuge from his wrath (among other things) and rejoice over his favour, blessing and protection.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
    you cover him with favour as with a shield.

  • God’s people long for his teaching and leading in righteousness.

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies;
    make your way straight before me.

  • God’s people are those who love, trust and seek to obey Jesus. All of the characteristics of God’s people found in this Psalm are now being realised in the Church. All of God’s promises of grace, forgiveness and transformation are now fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jonathan Edwards continues…

What would not those poor damned, hopeless souls give for one day’s such opportunity as you now enjoy!

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has flung the door of mercy wide open, and stands in the door calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the Kingdom of God; many are daily coming from the East, West, North and South; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are in now an happy state, with their hearts filled with love to Him that has loved them and washed them for their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.

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