As I’ve been working to recharge my spiritual batteries, I’ve been working to refocus my prayer life as much as possible. And one of the ways I’m doing that is to pray through a passage of Scripture (usually a psalm). Sometimes I get through the entire psalm, other times I might only get through a few lines. Recently, as I turned to my Bible and began to pray in Psalm 5, I felt compelled to focus on verses 4-6:
For You are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil cannot dwell with You.
The boastful cannot stand in Your presence;
You hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who tell lies;
the Lord abhors a man of bloodshed and treachery.
These are some pretty heavy words; yet as I prayed, I felt this almost strange sense of joy in doing so. I’ve been thinking about why for a few days now. And the reason I’ve come to is simple: these verses remind us of God’s holiness, his perfection and his justice. They’re stated negatively in these verses as him not delighting in wickedness, and abhorring those who shed blood and are treacherous. He destroys liars, who, as Spurgeon said, “may lie without danger of the law of man, but he will not escape the law of God. Liars have short wings, their flight shall soon be over, and they shall fall into the fiery floods of destruction.”1 He hates all those who persist in doing evil, the workers of lawlessness.
It’s strange to call it good news, but it is. And it is good news because these verses remind us God doesn’t turn a blind eye to sin. He doesn’t wink at it. He doesn’t excuse it with a laissez faire attitude, letting people simply do what he wants while he acts as a great and powerful cosmic vending machine. No, these verses remind us that he is holy. He is just—and he will mete out justice, justice more perfect than we can possibly fathom.Jesus became all that God hated so we might enjoy the abundance of his faithful love. Click To Tweet
The good news of these verses becomes greater when we consider the man who wrote them—David. The man after God’s own heart—yet was not without sin. In fact, an argument could be made that David himself was condemned by his own words. Yet he wrote in verse seven:
But I enter Your house
by the abundance of Your faithful love;
I bow down toward Your holy temple
in reverential awe of You.
There’s the key: David entered the house of God “by the abundance of Your faithful love.” It wasn’t because he saw himself as better than those who were persisting in doing evil, and those who were his enemies. He didn’t hold up his accomplishments as though they would grant him his Lord’s favor. Instead, he knew he was able to come before the Lord because of God’s abundant and faithful love for him, a sinner. That is such good news!
But there is greater news still. And that comes from remembering how God shows his abundant and faithful love in its fullness. That Jesus became all that God hated so we might enjoy the abundance of his faithful love. For, “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (emphasis added).
That’s the good news in this passage! If I’m trying to come before God based on my own merits, I’m doomed. But instead of running in fear, I can now stand and say as Spurgeon did, “I have a multitude of sins, and therefore I will come in the multitude of thy mercy. I will approach thee with confidence because of thy immeasurable grace.”2
How marvellous this is! God’s perfect holiness, his perfect justice, and his perfect love all come together here. And when we see it, how can it inspire anything but joy—and joyful prayers?