And now the Psalmist having thus expressed his resolution to pray, you hear him putting up his prayer. He is pleading against his cruel and wicked enemies. He uses a most mighty argument. He begs of God to put them away from him, because they were displeasing to God himself. “_For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee_.” “When I pray against my tempters,” says David, “I pray against the very things which thou thyself abhorrest.” _Thou_ hatest evil: Lord, I beseech thee, deliver _me_ from it!
Let us learn here the solemn truth of the hatred which a righteous God must bear towards sin. _He has no pleasure in wickedness_, however wittily, grandly, and proudly it may array itself. Its glitter has no charm for him. Men may bow before the successful villainy, and forget the wickedness of the battle in the gaudiness of the triumph, but the Lord of Holiness is not such-an-one as we are. “_Neither shall evil dwell with thee_.” He will not afford it the meanest shelter. Neither on earth nor in heaven shall evil share the mansion of God. Oh, how foolish are we if we attempt to entertain two guests so hostile to one another as Christ Jesus and the devil! Rest assured, Christ will not live in the parlour of our hearts if we entertain the devil in the cellar of our thoughts. “_The foolish shall not stand in thy sight_.” sinners are fools written large. A little sin is a great folly, and the greatest of all folly is great sin. Such sinful fools as these must be banished from the court of heaven. Earthly kings were wont to have fools in their trains, but the only wise God will have no fools in his palace above. “_Thou hatest all workers of iniquity_.” It is not a little dislike, but a thorough hatred which God bears to workers of iniquity. To be hated of God is an awful thing. O let us be very faithful in warning the wicked around us, for it will be a terrible thing for them to fall into the hands of an angry God! Observe, that evil speakers must be punished as well as evil workers, for “_thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing.” All liars shall have their portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. A man may lie without danger of the law of man, but he will not escape the law of God. Liars have short wings, their flight shall soon be over, and they shall fall into the fiery floods of destruction. “_The Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man_.” Bloody men shall be made drunk with their own blood, and they who began by deceiving others shall end with being deceived themselves. Our old proverb saith, “Bloody and deceitful men dig their own graves.” The voice of the people is in this instance the voice of God. How forcible is the word _abhor_! Does it not show us how powerful and deep-seated is the hatred of the Lord against the workers of iniquity?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Verse 4.–“_Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness_.” As a man that cutteth with a dull knife is the cause of cutting, but not, of the ill-cutting and hacking of the knife–the knife is the cause of that; or if a man strike upon an instrument that is out of tune, he is the cause of the sound, but not of the jarring sound–that is the fault of the untuned strings; or, as a man riding upon a lame horse, stirs him–the man is the cause of the motion, but the horse himself of the halting motion: thus God is the author of every action, but not of the evil of that action–that is from man. He that makes instruments and tools of iron or other metal, he maketh not the rust and canker which corrupteth them, that is from another cause; nor doth that heavenly workman, God Almighty, bring in sin and iniquity; nor can he be justly blamed if his creatures do soil and besmear themselves with the foulness of sin, for he made them good.–^Spencer’s Things New and Old.
Verses 4-6.–Here the Lord’s alienation from the wicked is set forth gradually, and seems to rise by six steps. First, _he hath no pleasure in them_; secondly, _they shall not dwell with them_; thirdly, he casteth them forth, _they shall not stand in his sight_; fourthly, his heart turns from them, _thou hatest all the workers of iniquity_; fifthly, his hand is turned upon them, _thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing_; sixthly, his spirit riseth against them, and is alienated from them, _the Lord will abhor the bloody man_. This estrangement is indeed a _strange_ (yet a certain) _punishment to “the workers of iniquity_.” These words, “_the workers of iniquity_,” may be considered two ways. First, as intending (not all degrees of sinners, or sinners of every degree, but) the highest degree of sinners, great, and gross sinners, resolved and wilful sinners. Such as sin industriously, and, as it were, artificially, with skill and care to get themselves a name, as if they had an ambition to be accounted _workmen_ that need not be ashamed in doing that whereof all ought to be ashamed; these, in strictness of Scripture sense, are “_workers of iniquity_.” Hence note, _notorious sinners made sin their business, or their trade_. Though every sin be work of iniquity, yet only some sinners are “_workers of iniquity_;” and they who are called so, make it their calling to sin. We read of some _who love and make a lie_. #Re 22:15|. A lie may be told by those who neither love nor make it; but there are lie-makers, and they, sure enough, are lovers of a lie. Such craftsmen in sinning are also described in #Ps 58:2|.–“Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.” The psalmist doth not say, they had wickedness in their heart, but they did work it there; _the heart is a shop within, an underground shop_; there they did closely contrive, forge, and hammer out their wicked purposes, and fit them into actions.–^Joseph Caryl.
Verse 5.–What an astonishing thing is sin, which maketh the God of love and Father of mercies an enemy to his creatures, and which could only be purged by the blood of the Son of God! Though all must believe this who believe the Bible, yet the exceeding sinfulness of sin is but weakly apprehended by those who have the deepest sense of it, and will never be fully known in this world.–^Thomas Adam’s Private Thoughts, 1701-1784.
Verse 5 (last clause).–“_Thou hatest all workers of iniquity_.” For what God thinks of sin, see #De 7:22; Pr 6:16; Re 2:6,15|; where he expresseth his detestation and hatred of it, from which hatred proceeds all those direful plagues and judgments thundered from the fiery mouth of his most holy law against it; nay, not only the work, but worker also of iniquity becomes the object of his hatred. ^William Gurnall.
Verse 5 (last clause).–“Thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” If God’s hatred be against the workers of iniquity, how great is it against iniquity itself! If a man hate a poisonous creature, he hates poison much more. The strength of God’s hatred is against sin, and so should we hate sin, and hate it with strength; it is an abomination unto God, let it be so unto us. #Pr 6:16-19|, “These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him; a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”–^William Greenhill.
Verse 5 (last clause).–Those whom the Lord hates must perish. But he hates impenitent sinners, “_Thou hatest all workers of iniquity_.” Now, who are so properly workers of iniquity as those who are so eager at it that they will not leave this work, though they be in danger to perish for it? Christ puts it out of doubt. The workers of iniquity must perish. #Lu 13:27|. Those whom the Lord will tear in his wrath must perish with a witness; but those whom he hates, he tears, &c. #Job 16:8|. What more due to such impenitent sinners than hatred! what more proper than wrath, since they treasure up wrath? #Ro 2|. Will he entertain those in the bosom of love whom his soul hates? No; destruction is their portion. #Pr 21:15|. If all the curses of the law, all the threatenings of the gospel, all judgments in earth or in hell, will be the ruin of him, he must perish. If the Lord’s arm be strong enough to wound him dead, he must die. #Ps 68:21|. … Avoid all that Christ hates. If you love, approve, entertain that which is hateful to Christ, how can he love you? What is that which Christ hates? the Psalmist (#Ps 45:7|) tells us, making it one of Christ’s attributes, to hate wickedness. … As Christ hates iniquity, so the “_workers of iniquity_.” you must not love them, so as to be intimate with them, delight in the company of evil doers, openly profane, scorners of godliness, obstructors of the power of it. #2Co 6:14-18|. If you love so near relations to wicked men, Christ will have no relation to you. If you would have communion with Christ in sweet acts of love, you must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, nor those that act them.–^David Clarkson, B.D., 1621-1686.
Verse 6.–“_Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing_,” whether in jest or earnest. Those that lie in jest will (without repentance) go to hell in earnest.–^John Trapp.
Verse 6.–“_Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing_,” etc. In the same field wherein Absalom raised battle against his father, stood the oak that was his gibbet. The mule whereon he rode was his hangman, for the mule carried him to the tree, and the hair wherein he gloried served for a rope to hang. Little know the wicked how everything which now they have, shall be a snare to trap them when God begins to punish them.–^William Cowper, 1612.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Verse 4.–God’s hatred of sin an example to his people.
Verse 5.–“_The foolish_.” Show why sinners are justly called fools.