De Moor on God's Essential Vindicatory Righteousness: Argument from Psalm 5 :4-6



No less accommodated solidly to prove this matter is the passage in Psalm 5:4-6; while it has regard partly to the Vindicatory Righteousness of God, partly to the Holiness of God, the Foundation of the former, when we set it forth here, the same will be able to be omitted in the following Argument. In this place, there are three negative predicates, and likewise three positive, each of which appears to contend with the others for the greater ἐνεργείᾳ, rhetorical vigor. Thou art not a God (thus sings the Royal Prophet) that hath pleasure in wickedness, that is, because of thy Natural Holiness, whereby thou lovest thyself most perfectly, and hence also thine image, and on the other hand altogether shunnest everything that is contrary to thy virtues. And what flows from that Holiness exerting itself in such a manner against impiety? A רָע, evil man, giving himself to wickedness and an author of the impiety just now mentioned, לֹ֖א יְגֻרְךָ֣, shall not dwell with thee; he shall be deprived of the enjoyment of thy communion, gracious here, and glorious hereafter. And what is this punishment not to be thought to include? It is a compendium of that consummate infelicity, which now presses and hereafter awaits reprobates; as the opposite felicity of those to be blessed, here begun and hereafter to be consummated, is expressed by Walking in the light of the Lord’s countenance, Psalm 89:15, and by τὸ εἶναι πάντοτε σὺν Κυρίῳ, to be ever with the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 4:17. He adds another assertions, more properly setting forth to us God as the Just Judge; Those raving before thine eyes, לְנֶ֣גֶד עֵינֶ֑יךָ, that is, in thy Holy Presence, inasmuch as the eyes and face of God denote His Presence, לֹא־יִתְיַצְּבוּ, shall not station themselves, shall not remain, shall not stand; thy Holy Presence shall be so terrible to them that they will not endure to bear it, by a comparison of Deuteronomy 9:2 with Revelation 6:16, 17. But further, as to fall in a cause is a familiar expression among the Latins, so in Sacred Scripture in the contrary sense to stand in the Judgment is to receive a sentence of absolution from the Judge, by patiently enduring to the end the rigor of Righteousness, and so then the opposite of this, not to stand, shall be the sign of a sentence of condemnation; which is more frequently expressed by the verb קוּם, to arise/stand (by which the word occurring in our text is often translated in the Targum), for example, in Psalm 1:5, לֹא־יָקֻ֣מוּ רְ֭שָׁעִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּ֑ט, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment; and by עָמַד, to stand, as in Psalm 130:3,אִם־עֲוֹנ֥וֹת תִּשְׁמָר־יָ֑הּ אֲ֜דֹנָ֗י מִ֣י יַעֲמֹֽד׃, If thou, Jah, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?: compare also Nahum 1:6;[1] Malachi 3:2;[2] etc.; which same thing is signified in the New Testament by σταθῆναι, to stand, Luke 21:36;[3] Revelation 6:17,[4] in both of which passages the Syriac also has the verb קום, etc. They shall not stand, therefore, before thee on account of their impurity, which thine unstained Holiness detests; and hence by thy Judgment, which is according to truth and according to the norm of thine own Holiness, neither were they able to be absolved. The Psalmist subjoins three positive predicates no less emphatic; of which the first is, שָׂ֜נֵ֗אתָ כָּל־פֹּ֥עֲלֵי אָֽוֶן׃, thou hatest all workers of iniquity: that is, here he infers the reason for which it happens that those raving will not remain before Him, namely, the Hatred of God against sinners is responsible; which, since no grief or disturbance of soul comes upon God (οὐ γὰρ θέμις ἐμπαθῆ νοεῖν τὸν Θεὸν, for it is wrong to think of God as subject to passions, as CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA right taught, book V of Stromata, page 557), indicates nothing other than the act of His Righteousness, which begets the highest displeasure and detestation of sin with a consistent will to punish it. For, as God, Loving man, which is directly opposite to Hatred, necessarily loads him with benefits so that He might testify to His love; so, holding anyone in Hatred, God is obliged to declare His Hatred, with emphasis bestowed upon both expressions, Romans 9:13. Certainly this was the opinion of David, since he alleges the Hatred of God as the cause of the condemnation of the wicked, and he, not yet content with that, adds the bitter fruit of this hatred, תְּאַבֵּד֮ דֹּבְרֵ֪י כָ֫זָ֥ב, thou shalt destroy those that speak falsehood, by thy just Judgment; and, as if these things were not yet sufficient, it is finally added, the bloody and deceitful man יְתָ֘עֵ֥ב׀ יְהוָֽה׃, the Lord will abhor. The Psalmist makes use of κλίμακι/climax here, for to hate is the lesser, to abominate the greater, by comparison with Proverbs 6:16.[5] But abomination does not arise from any indifferent determination of the will, but it speaks of a natural aversion with the will nevertheless intervening, and that natural aversion so proper to God that He could not will the contrary; but, whom God abominates, He necessarily keeps from communion with Himself, and thus causes to pay the penalty; indeed, Solomon thus deduces the one thing from the other, Proverbs 16:5, For an abomination to Jehovah is every one lifted up in heart, by conjoined works לֹ֣א יִנָּקֶֽה׃, he does not acquire immunity from punishment. Compare also Genesis 46:34, in which from this, that shepherds and those tending sheep are תוֹעֲבַ֥ת מִצְרַ֖יִם, an abomination to the Egyptians, Joseph concludes that the land of Goshen should be assigned to his brethren for a place of habitation, lest they should have commerce with the Egyptians. And so indeed we that that from this passage it is able justly to be concluded that Vindicatory Righteousness is Essential to God; since evil is necessarily displeasing to His Holiness and He abominates it; from that displeasure arises hatred, which by the Just Nature of God is no less necessary than the opposite love of the good, for otherwise the Judgment of God would not be according to truth; from hatred punishment is to be inflicted: and so all these things follow upon each other in an indissoluble chain, so that, if God, on the other hand, be able not to punish sin, He would also be able nto to hate sin; if He be able not to hate sin, He would be able to love the same, which is ἀσύστατον/incoherent. But the force of this argument appears be lifted more than a little, if with some we should with temerity think that by that רָע, evil man, Antichrist is to be understood, and by הוֹלְלִים, those raving/foolish his attendants.

[1] Nahum 1:6: “Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger (לִפְנֵ֤י זַעְמוֹ֙ מִ֣י יַֽעֲמ֔וֹד וּמִ֥י יָק֖וּם בַּחֲר֣וֹן אַפּ֑וֹ)? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.”


[2] Malachi 3:2: “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth (וּמִ֤י מְכַלְכֵּל֙ אֶת־י֣וֹם בּוֹא֔וֹ וּמִ֥י הָעֹמֵ֖ד בְּהֵרָֽאוֹת֑וֹ)? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap…”


[3] Luke 21:36: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand (σταθῆναι) before the Son of man.”


[4] Revelation 6:17: “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand (σταθῆναι)?”


[5] Proverbs 6:16: “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him (שֶׁשׁ־הֵ֭נָּה שָׂנֵ֣א יְהוָ֑ה וְ֜שֶׁ֗בַע תּוֹעֲב֥וֹת נַפְשֽׁוֹ׃)…”

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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