January 27, 2014
Psalm 139:19- 22
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We have been looking at Psalm 139 – one of David’s great compositions – where he meditates upon God’s omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence. These three terms are attributes of Divinity:
• Omniscience means that God knows everything!
• Omnipresence means that God is everywhere in His fulness at once!
• Omnipotence means that God is all powerful and can do anything!
After David considers the Father’s omniscience – as it relates to knowing all about him (verses 1-6); after he talks about God’s omnipresence – that no matter where David is, God is there (verses 7-12); after he shares concerning the Lord’s omnipotence – He uses His great power to design and mold David’s person in his mother’s womb (verses 13-16); he then breaks into praise about God’s greatness in verses 17 and 18.
But there seems to be a sharp left turn in verses 19 through 22 – and it doesn’t sound very Christian, either!
Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God! Depart from me, therefore, you
bloodthirsty men. For they speak against You wickedly; Your enemies take
Your name in vain. Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I
not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
Didn’t Jesus tell us in Luke 6:27 and 28 to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”? I think the key here is when David says, “I hate them with perfect hatred….” The eighteenth century English bishop George Horne wrote in his Commentary on the Psalms:
A good man hates, as God himself doth; he hates not the persons of men, but
their sins; not what God made them, but what they have made themselves. We
are to neither hate the men, on account of the vices they practice; nor to love
the vices, for the sake of the men who practice them.
Saint Augustine (354-430 AD) summed it up when he said,
What is “with a perfect hatred”? I hate in them their iniquities, I love thy crea-
tion. This it is to hate with a perfect hatred, that neither on account of the vices
thou hate the men, nor on account of the men love the vices.
David is describing in verses 19 through 22 the hatred he feels for what man has done with the wonderful gift of creation – verses 1 through 18 – God has given him.
Jude deals with how we should handle all this in Jude 1:23 (NIV): “…snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner!
David wrote of sinners in verse 22, “I count them my enemies.” Are we not God’s enemies before we come to Christ? Paul said so in Romans 5:10: “…when we were enemies [of God], we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son….” And James in James 4:4 wrote, “…do you not know that friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of this world makes himself an enemy of God.”
It also is written in Psalm 7:11, “…God is angry with the wicked every day.” If David is expressing anger with the wicked, so does God! And so did Jesus when He cleansed the temple in Matthew 21:12 and 13. Paul – quoting Psalm 4:4 – told us concerning such righteous anger in Ephesians 4:26 and 27, “‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Out-of-control anger is giving in to the devil, and is sinful and wrong! Righteous anger against sin and sinner – righteous by God’s standard – is acceptable and even desired.
So if you are going to be angry and hate the wicked, then – like David – “…hate them with perfect hatred….” Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner! …and seek to “…snatch [them]…from the fire and save them….” For God wants to make His enemies His friends through the Lord Jesus Christ!