To reach out to God in praise is natural to most Christians. On some level, each of us is grateful for the sacrifice and salvation afforded us by the Creator of all and we find joy in proclaiming this gratitude in words of positive affirmation. We understand that praising God for His greatness, telling Him how wonderful He is is much different than the same interaction on a human level. God’s arrogance is not fed by our praise; our proper relationship to Him is. A common feature that we encounter in the psalms are words of praise, directly addressing God by crying out the magnitude of His awesome nature. Another feature that is more jarring to modern ears are the words that emphasize the fundamental nature of God, His absolute holiness.
You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors. (vv 4 – 6)
How often do your prayers, personal or corporate, remind God of His holiness? The psalmist throws a wide net in these two verses that unsettles. “All who do wrong” are hated, lies bring abhorrence. To meditate on these statements brings nearly all of us to the realization that we can easily find ourselves falling into these wide, wide categories. Does the God we praise also hate us? The answer is found in next verses.
But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. (v7)
Only by the mercy of the One we praise can we approach the holy throne. The psalms contrast the people of mercy, God’s people, and those who choose against Him, His enemies. The contrast is less an ‘us and them’ statement as it is a recognition that we are sustained purely by the mercy that God offers. The line between the loved and unloved is very thin indeed. Praise Him.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (vv 11-12)