Below I've cited a number of verses, which are not cherry picked after much searching, but simply came out of my devotional reading today. Granted, I don't always read an entire epistle (I don't always read anything!), but tonight I did as well as a few other things. As I was reading I just started noting verses that stood out in light of a lot of the recent back and forth over grace, sanctification, the role of good works, etc. And I couldn't help but be struck by how far our discussions have moved from Biblical language. I dare say that many of the statements posted below would be sent up on reformed blogs in record time if they were spoken or written by a PCA/OPC pastor rather than being the words of Asaph or St. John. This is a problem. If we so fear the specter of "works righteousness" that we recoil at the thought that we can please God by keeping his commandments (1 John 3.22), or that a condidtional if can be placed before statements of God's blessing (1 John 4.12), both notions I've seen lambasted by contemporary reformed writers, we have swung the pendulum too far. God is our Father, as John is at pains to make clear, and just as a good earthly Father is gracious and forgiving, yet pleased by the intentional obedience of his children and willing to chastise disobedience (indeed to prevent complete dissolution of the familial relationship if rebellion is allowed to go unchecked), so our heavenly Father accepts and even demands our obedience as his godly (i.e. following in his footsteps) children.
“Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”(Psalm 50:22-23 ESV)
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.(1 John 2:3-6 ESV)
If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.(1 John 2:29 ESV)
Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.(1 John 3:7-11 ESV)
...and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.(1 John 3:22 ESV)
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.(1 John 3:15 ESV)
...if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12b ESV)
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.(1 John 5:3 ESV)
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
(Psalm 46 ESV)
[f1] OF DAVID.
Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.[f2]
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.
The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.
Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.
The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.
But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
for those blessed by the LORD[f3] shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.
The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.
I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.
Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.
The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
The LORD will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.
Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.[f4]
But he passed away,[f5] and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.
Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.
The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
 37:1 Or But one passed by
 37:3 Or and feed on faithfulness, or and find safe pasture
 37:22 Hebrew by him
 37:35 The identity of this tree is uncertain
 37:36 Or But one passed by
Psalm 5.4 says this: "For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you." I think it is easy for us to read this as a truism. Of course God doesn't delight in wickedness. Need that be mentioned? For us it is definitional. No god could be properly called such if he delighted in wickedness. But it is important to remember that for David's audience and for most of the world prior to the resurrection such an idea would not be obvious. David was writing into a context where people, or their ancestors had worshipped Baals, Ashteroth and Molech, the latter of whom famously delighted in child sacrifice.
One of my pastors once pointed out that when Jesus died and was resurrected it was almost as if he pulled the entire world through the cross leaving it a new and resurrected reality on the other side. I find this to be a poignant and profound image. While the world is stil very broken and in need of redemption, the world after Christ is different than the world before Christ. On this side of the cross, in places where the gospel has penetrated, it can be taken as a given that God is one who does not delight in wickedness. The whole notion of the philosophical debate about the "problem of evil," or theodicy, is premised on this. But before the cross we had the Molech's, the Baal's, the Greco-Roman pantheon that delighted in wickedness of all manner. So we should not just gloss over such statements. It is not a given. We should give thanks that we know the true God, the God who does not delight in wickedness but in grace, mercy and love.
At the same time, reading on in the Psalm, we should remember that God delights to bless the righteous and humble the wicked. We should never be self-righteous, but neither should we engage in false humility. David is not afraid to pray that God would bless him for his righteousness/faithfulness and cast down/destroy the wicked. In our day it is fashionable to assume that there is some sort of neutrality whereby the righteous and wicked can peacefully co-exist (and the righteous aren't really righteous anyway because we are all depraved). However, David will have none of this. Living on the backside of the resurrection he has a full appreciation of the death and destruction that wickedness leads to, and while we know from his other Psalms and the historical books that he certainly would prefer to see the enemies of God converted rather than destroyed, he is not afraid to contrast his own faithfulness to the Lord with their murderousness and implore the Lord to bring destruction on them and remember his faithfulness.
This is not somehow sub-Christian. The Psalter is the Christian's hymnbook. We should simultaneously recognize God's grace and his disgust at wickedness. We should praise him for his holiness, thank him for his grace, pray for our enemies, and at the same time pray that he would destroy those who seek to do his people and his kingdom harm. God is not a genie in a bottle. You don't have three wishes and then it's over. You can ask him to convert your enemies, bless you and the other righteous (and yes it is okay to number yourselves among the righteous, otherwise you can't pray/sing the Psalms), bring the kingdom, and destroy those who delight in wicked. God can sort out the details. He knows that some of these requests feel mutually exclusive, yet he exhorts you to make each of them.
So thank God that you live in a world where the statement 'God does not delight in wickedness' is tautological, ask him to remember you, bless your faithfulness, build the kingdom, convert its enemies, and destroy those who love wickedness. And trust him to work it out.
Below is a rather woodenly literal translation of Psalm 1 I came up with a couple of years ago; and beneath that is a file containing the annotated version which explains the reasoning for various grammatical and lexical choices.
Additionally, for anyone wishing to become better acquainted with the Psalter ('God's hymnbook') I would recommend this
little volume published by Concordia Publishing House
. This book has a number of features to commend it: the translation is ESV
which will be familiar and/or preferred by a growing number in Reformed and Lutheran circles; each Psalm is preceded by a short reflection from Luther's Summaries of the Psalms, 1531
and followed by a prayer; appendices include a division of the Psalms by category, a two week schedule for reading/singing the Psalms following the Daily Office
, and another (four week during Ordinary Time) schedule for reading/singing the Psalms in conjunction with the Morning and Evening Prayer
; but perhaps the most singularly commendable feature of this book is that the texts are pointed for singing/chanting and eight tunes (five major and three minor key) are provided at the front, any one of which may be used with any Psalm. While there are quibbles to be had with the pointing, most notably that divisions are done by verse rather than by line meaning that occasionally you get an unnaturally long note which is hard to sing vigorously, overall it is still a great resource for those wishing to get in the habit of singing the Psalter. It combines the resources needed to sing the Psalms (which they were intended to be) in a good translation with some really great brief devotional material in a slim, well bound volume that is easy to toss in a book bag, stick in the glove box, etc. And while singing/chanting may seem unnatural and difficult at first it really is worth the time and energy investment. It's the best way to learn the Psalms, and it is much closer to how they were meant to be experienced than simply reading them.
"The Psalter ought to be a dear and beloved book, if only because it promises Christ's death and resurrection so clearly and so depicts his kingdom and the condition of all Christendom that we may call it a little Bible. Most beautifully and briefly it embraces everything in the entire Bible; it is made into a fine enchiridion, or handbook. Therefore it seems to me that the Holy Spirit wanted to take the trouble of compiling a short Bible and a book of examples of all Christendom or of all saints, with the purpose in mind that whoever could not read the whole Bible would here have practically an entire summary of it, comprised in one booklet...
The Psalter is the book of all saints, and everyone, whatever his situation may be, finds psalms and words in it that fit his situation and apply to his case so exactly that it seems they were put in this way only for his sake..."
--Martin Luther (Reading the Psalms with Luther
, pg. 7)
(1) O how happy is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked
and in the way of sinners does not stand
and in the seat of scorners does not sit.
(2) But rather in the teaching of Yahweh is his delight
and in his teaching he murmurs, day and night.
(3) He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
which its fruit it gives in its time
and its leaf does not wither.
And all that he does prospers.
(4) Not so the wicked
but rather (they are) like chaff that the wind drives away.
(5) Just so the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
and sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
(6) Because Yahweh knows the way of the of the righteous,
and the way of the wicked will perish.
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