I said that I would come back to this psalm, so here goes. I have shared in a devotion how, at the edges of this psalm, the psalmist shows us something about who God is (vv. 2,3 - my King; my God; LORD), and who we need to be before this God (vv. 11-12 - we take refuge in You; we love Your name; we are righteous). 1) We find refuge in the Shepherd-King; 2) we love the one, true God over against all other would-be gods; 3) we find our righteousness, not in ourselves, but in the covenant-keeping LORD who provides us with real righteousness through faith in Jesus. There’s that part.
But let’s not go on to a less-familiar aspect of who God is, found in vv. 4-6. Because we have heard over and over about how God is a God of love. And we do not want to take anything away from that. Except we cannot really understand the wonder of God’s love if we do not appreciate the tension that exists with God’s hate. Yes, that is what the text says. God hates.
Verses 4 and 5 seem to use an ABBA form, that is, the 1st line matches with the last, and the 2 middle lines correspond.
A - you are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
B - No evil dwells with You
B’ - The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes
A’ - You hate all who do iniquity.
There are certain things that God takes no pleasure in, so much so that Scripture says, “God hates.” Further, the old saying that God hates the sin and loves the sinner … - this phrase seems to contradict that notion. “You hate all who do iniquity.” As we move into verse 6, we add the ideas that God, in this hate, is willing to “destroy," because he “abhors.”
Now just as we have said that we cannot fully understand God’s love without appreciating His hatred, neither can we understand this hatred if we neglect His purpose and nature to love. His love is such that it works through and past that which He abhors. He dives deeply into that in which He takes no pleasure. To put it plainly, He purposes to love what He hates. One thing that we simply cannot say about this God is that He doesn’t care. He cares so much, that He is moved to both hate, and love.
And this is born out in v. 7, where the psalmist testifies that, what he does, he does so “by Your abundant lovingkindness.” This sinner-psalmist, who himself, like us all, has “done iniquity,” is still the beneficiary of God’s lovingkindness, because that is what God does.