When you read Psalm 5.4-6:
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
Evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
You hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
Maybe the first thing that comes to mind is other people:
Yes, Lord! Destroy the wicked!
Maybe the second thing that comes to mind is yourself:
Yikes, I hope I’m not an evildoer. Lord, save me from boasting and lies! Help me to not do those kinds of things anymore!
But one of the best things we can do when we read the Bible is to first ask, what does this teach me about God?
So maybe the third thing that comes to mind as we read Psalm 5 is some of the more obvious points about God:
He hates evildoers, abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful folk, and will destroy them because they may not dwell with him.
Such facts may seem difficult to appreciate in some ways, but deep down, we all really want this to be true. We want someone, somewhere, somehow to ultimately respond with justice to the injustices of the world and repair the ruins of the evil we see around us.
But there is something else, a fourth thing, that it is easy to read past and not notice. The phrasing of v.4 invites comparison: “You are not a God who…” Wait, are you saying there are some gods who do?
Yes, in fact there are. Each idea in this passage provides a vast contrast between the God of the Bible and all other gods, whether ancient or modern:
The God of the Bible does not delight in wickedness. But false gods encourage wickedness!
Evil will not dwell with the God of the Bible. But only the evil, those who have paid for their power and pleasure, will dwell with the false gods!
The boastful will not stand before the eyes of the God of the Bible. But the false gods will only pay attention to those who boast in their good works!
God hates evildoers, but false gods reward them!
God destroys liars, but false gods prefer lies to truth!
The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful, but false gods call that worship!
Whether it’s burning babies on an altar or ignoring your kids in the name of work success; whether it’s visiting a temple prostitute or paying for pleasure; whether it’s worshiping ancestral spirits or committing suicide for family honor — in each case, the false god beckons toward evil and will only be satisfied (but not really) when you worship as it has commanded.
Not only is our God, the God of the Bible, unique amongst the gods of the world, he is unequivocally better. And he rewards those who diligently seek him — on his own terms, and not their own or (worse still) the false, destructive terms of the false gods.