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In the fifth Psalm it is the holiness of God that is celebrated. And again we hear David lifting his voice in prayer, “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up/’ He was going to start the day aright. It is a great thing to do that. Did He hear your voice this morning? Did you start the day without any word with Him, and have you wondered why things went wrong today? They always will if you launch out on the work of the day without speaking to Him first. In the Song of Solomon the bridegroom says, “Let me hear thy voice, let me see thy countenance.” And that is what our blessed Lord is saying to us-“I want you to take time to talk with Me, to read My Word and let Me speak to you through it I want you to pour out your heart in prayer. I want to see your face and hear your voice.” If you want to be a strong overcoming believer in a day of difficulty, be sure to start the day with God.
For Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with Thee. The foolish shall not stand in Thy sight: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” What is it to stand in the sight of God? It is to be accepted of Him. We read in the first Psalm, “The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,” But will the ungodly not stand in the judgment; are not they the people that will have to stand before the great white throne? Yes; but they will have no standing there, because when He speaks of standing in the judgment, He means being acquitted, being accepted of God in that day. “The ungodly will not be acquitted in the judgment,” and so here, “The foolish shall not be acquitted in Thy sight.” In Revelation when the awful judgment of the last days will break over the world the cry goes forth, “The great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (6:17). You see, your standing is to be accepted of God in that day.
Well, who will be able to stand? In the fifth chapter of Romans, verses 1 and 2, we read, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.” Every believer has a standing before God of which the worldling knows nothing. The unsaved man has no standing, but every child of God stands complete in the risen Christ in all the infinite value of the precious atoning blood of Jesus.
Notice the second part of this verse, “Thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” What does that mean? Are we wrong in telling men that no matter how sinful they are God loves them? We cannot be wrong for the Word itself says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), and that world is made up of sinners. What does, “Thou hatest all workers of iniquity” mean? God abhors the work of ungodly men. No matter how true it is that He loves the sinner, He hates his sin and longs to see the sinner separated from his sin. If men persist in continuing in their sin there can be nothing but banishment from God for eternity, and so destruc- tion comes to the workers of iniquity. “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.” And from this point on there seems to loom before the souls of the writers of these beautiful Old Testament hymns a strong and dreadful character who is the enemy of the people of God and the enemy of everything holy. In other words as you read, it seems that you can see the foreshadowing, all the way through, of the last great enemy of God’s people, who is going to rise up just before the end, the antichrist, and he, I believe, is really “the bloody and deceitful man” that is in view here. We shall see other terms used of him as we go along.
In spite of all this the child of God can say today as the remnant of Israel will be able to say, “As for me, I will come into Thy house in the multitude of Thy mercy: and in Thy fear will I worship toward Thy holy temple. Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make Thy way straight before my face.” In other words, all I want to know, Lord, is what Thy path is, and then I would have grace to walk in it. “There is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre.” This passage is quoted in the third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans in describing the corruption of men out of Christ.
“They flatter with their tongue. Destroy Thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against Thee.” You say, Well that does not seem to be a very gracious kind of prayer. Why does David not rather pray that God will break them down and bring them to repentance and save their souls? You see, the Psalmist carries us on to a time of crisis when the enemies of God and the people of God on the other hand are engaged in the last great conflict, and the only way that righteousness can triumph in that time will be by the destruction of all the enemies of the Lord. People have often said that some of these Psalms, with their imprecations, seem so contrary to the spirit of Christ. Of course they have to do largely with law, and in the coming day of tribulation it will be law rather than grace that rules, but after all, do we not even now enter in measure to the same spirit?
About the close of the Civil War two gentlemen happened to meet in a railway train. One of them was sitting there reading his Bible when the other sat down by him and said, “My friend, I am rather surprised to see the Book you are reading; it is a Bible, is it not?”
“Yes,” said the other, “it is.”
“You look like an intelligent person; you don’t mean to tell me you believe in the Bible?”
“Yes, I do believe in it.”
“I didn’t know any intelligent persons believed it any more. When I was young, I used to think it was all right, but when I got older I threw it overboard.”
“What did you find in it so objectionable?”
“Well, take for instance those imprecatory Psalms. I cannot reconcile those with a loving God.”
The other was going to answer him when a newsboy came hurrying through the car calling, “Extra! Extra! Grant is marching on Richmond!” and everybody wanted a paper. This man said, “Good! I am glad that Grant is getting down to business at last. I hope he will wipe Richmond off the face of the earth.”
“My friend,” said the other, “that is an imprecatory Psalm!”
What did that man mean? He did not really have any hatred in his heart toward the people of the south, but as he thought of the four long years of war he felt that the quickest way to end it all would be by the downfall of Richmond. And so, after all the long, long struggle between good and evil, when at last the end is just about reached and the army of Satan, marching under the antichrist, is defying God, the heart cries out to God to destroy these enemies and to let righteousness prevail. It does not imply hatred but an earnest desire that the long, long reign of wickedness should come to an end and the reign of righteousness begin.
On the other hand, “Let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them: let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee. For Thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt Thou compass him as with a shield.” And so we think of the tried people of God today entering into these Psalms and finding in them suited vehicles for expression of the earnest desires of their hearts. But how much more will they have their application in that coming day when the remnant of Israel will be suffering so terribly under the hand of the beast and the antichrist. Wherever there is a measure of divine illumination the heart will be lifted above the trial and will be able to look up to God and count on Him while waiting for the hour when the King shall return to bring in the reign of righteousness.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Psalms 5". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany