Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Who Stands Before God? (Psalm 5)

"For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity" (Psalm 5:4–5).

Amid David’s cry for help in Psalm 5, he boldly describes the enemies he must conquer, the evil men who usurp God’s authority and mock His righteousness. David is not comparing these people to himself but to the very nature of God. God is upright and just. Because of this He will take vengeance on all the wicked. How deluded are those who ignore God’s just decrees and His holy purposes. Arrogant, bloodthirsty, and deceitful men boast that God winks at sin and does not deal with a rebellious people. Sadly, many put their hope in a God of their own making. And they ignore what the Scriptures proclaim—that the arrogant cannot stand in God’s presence, that He hates all who do wrong, and that He will destroy the ungodly.

Those who have rejected God’s truth, who refuse to humble themselves and repent, who have not put their faith in the righteousness of Christ, should heed John Calvin’s warning: “Nothing is more foolish than for the ungodly to cast away the fear of God, and suffer the desire of doing mischief to be their ruling principle.” Those who do not submit to the rule of Christ cannot commune with a holy God. When they cry out to Him in times of trouble, they will not be heard.

Yet, God will hear the prayers of His people. Those who fear the Lord can approach the King of heaven in safety. Only those who are covered with the righteousness of Christ can come into His presence. The saint does not proudly stride into the King’s court, but he comes in humility, in reverence, in the fear of the Lord. He rests not on his own merit but on the merit of Jesus Christ. Psalm 5:7 says, “In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.”

Christians do not have to approach God in a temple made with hands. We worship God through the communion of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. Without Christ who stands as our intercessor before God and without the Spirit who draws us to God, we cannot stand in His presence.

Unbelievers do not have this blessed mediation. Instead, they are cast out unless God, in His great mercy, changes their hearts and brings them to Himself in righteousness.

Read 1 Samuel 2:1–10. What elements in Hannah’s prayer correlate to the themes in Psalm 5? What characteristics should you emulate in your own prayers? Noting the humility that characterizes David’s entrance into God’s presence and the resulting joy of being before God, use Psalm 5 as a model for your prayer today.