Our introduction comes from the first expository paragraph from the Interpreter’s Bible.
We have in this psalm a hymn for morning sacrifice in the temple, sharply personal in tone. While its references are related to the natural acts of worship of the writer’s time, its phrases are such that they can be applied to Christian worship in its most spiritual aspects. It is a psalm from which the interpreter may take an image here, or a phrase there, and put himself in their charge, their true context being his own religious experience or need and that of the people whom he is addressing.
Give ear to my words, O Lord;
give heed to my groaning.
Hearken to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to thee do I pray.
O Lord, in the morning thou dost hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for thee, and watch.
The author offers his prayers in confidence that God will hear them, and then waits expectantly for the response.
For thou art not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not sojourn with thee.
The boastful may not stand before thy eyes;
thou hatest all evildoers.
Passages like this one can be discomforting even for confident, committed Christians. For, due to the lingering power of sin operating in our partially sanctified lives, we can all (if we are honest with ourselves) identify areas within where wickedness holds sway. Thus were we depending on our own righteousness for justification all would be lost. But God, in His infinite mercy and grace has imputed Christ’s perfect righteousness to we soiled sinners in order to win our salvation.
We dare not boast of this mercy, as if the source were found to be within ourselves. No, we can only stand justified before God because we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. Thus it is a terrible fault for a Christian to boast on account of their salvation.
But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17,18)
Thou destroyest those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men.
The psalmists often single out lying as a particularly destructive sin. Note in this instance deceit is tied directly to a desire to commit violence. The fact is that most of humanity desires to live their liver in peace. Thus it often requires crafty deceit to marshal a population towards war.
But deceit is also deployed for less massive but no less destructive purposes. If you find yourself using or approving of ad hominem attacks, doxing, information hiding or outright lying to get your way, be it personal or political, then you should pause and reflect. This is not to say that it is always impermissible to comment on an opponent’s character or to highlight information that best supports a position you believe to be closest to correct. However, if your first impulse and primary purpose is to win by attacking your opponents character and distorting / hiding fundamental information then you have fallen into the terrible sin of destructive deception.
And destructive it is. It tears asunder social cohesion and personal trust. Eventually opponents and even standers by will recognize the cruel deceit that defines your behavior, thus shredding your credibility. When all this occurs the use of raw power as opposed to persuasion and consent to settle disputes becomes the norm. And bloodshed likely follows.
But I through the abundance of thy steadfast love
will enter thy house,
I will worship toward thy holy temple
in the fear of thee.
It is only through God’s initiative of love that we are saved from those same sins that beset the wicked.
Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness
because of my enemies;
make thy way straight before me.
For there is no truth in their mouth;
their heart is destruction,
their throat is an open sepulchre,
they flatter with their tongue.
It’s noteworthy that our enemies provide motivation for righteousness. To the unsaved the apparent progress of enemies serves as a education on how to win in this world. Thus the same tactics are turned back upon the “enemy” and now the world is doubly evil.
But to God’s Elect, our enemies are revealed to be the very evil that we abhor. Thus their apparent progress doesn’t result in appropriation their tactics but rather a redoubling of revulsion about their evil. And, the conviction that our only hope is to run deeper into God’s worship and His mercy.
Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of their many transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against thee.
Here we find the concept that, since the enemy’s actions are based upon evil, they build on a compromised foundation. Even though they may appear to prosper for a time, their building will ultimately collapse in upon itself. Thus evil is understood to be not just immoral, but also utterly unstable.
But in addition to its internal failure, wickedness also finds itself to be opposed by God. Thus His judgement leads not to simply temporal failure, but also to eternal punishment.
But let all who take refuge in thee rejoice,
let them ever sing for joy;
and do thou defend them,
that those who love thy name may exult in thee.
For thou dost bless the righteous, O Lord;
thou dost cover him with favor as with a shield.
The righteous are spared the life of lies, hatred and violence that consumes the wicked. This is the doing of God, having raised them from the death of sin into the light of eternal salvation. The joy of that eternal salvation can be experienced as a foretaste of its eternal completion here in this life irregardless of the wickedness by which we are surrounded.