Today we want to go further into the study of Psalm 5. As we study the scriptures, we will inevitably run into verses or subjects that will be difficult to understand. There is no doubt that biblical literacy will always be a daunting task. We have a responsibility to ‘rightly handle the Word of Truth’, as Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim 2:15.
[Psalms 5:4-6 ESV] 4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. 5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. 6 You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
This may seem like a very harsh attribute of God. As Christians, we have to be able to reconcile this in our own hearts, but also be able to explain it to others, both Christians and non-believers. Without a clear understanding of this, it can cause us to be discouraged and even question our own faith.
We cannot just pass this over and say…well God hates sin but loves the sinner. This scripture clearly doesn’t say that.
I guess we could just ignore this or tear that page out and forget it exists…but then we would have to deal with Psalm 11:
“The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence” (Psalms 11:5 ESV).
Also in Psalm 106:
“Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage” (Psalms 106:40 ESV).
David has many harsh things to say about “evildoers”…
“I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked” (Psalms 26:5 ESV).
How can this be, wasn’t David an “evildoer” at various points in his life? Wasn’t he a murderer and an adulterer? Make no mistake that David quickly repented of these things and through Gods grace and mercy he would have been forgiven. However, we still need to fully understand the seemingly harsh things that David was saying.
To make matters worse, couldn’t we all say that we have been “evildoers”, especially prior to our new birth in Christ?
Here are some other examples of this hatred of sinners by David: I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord. (Psalms 31:6 ESV)
I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. (Psalms 119:113 ESV)
Psalm 139 gives us some very harsh language from David on this subject:
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. (Psalms 139:21–22 ESV)
The problem becomes even more defined when we try to reconcile David’s view with all the scriptures that talk about the love of God; like John 3:16?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).
Also in 1 John: “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8 ESV).
Isn’t the God of David the same God that John served? Doesn’t Gods word say that He does not change? Was David contradictory in his view of God when he wrote the following?
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalms 36:5 ESV)
Does scripture contradict itself here? The answer is NO. King David and the apostle John served the very same God. He was and is immutable. And last but not least, there is no contradiction in David’s view of God.
I propose to you that we have several things that need to be clarified. First lets start with some definitions and background.
There are 2 words, one Hebrew and one Greek that have been translated to “hate” in scripture. The Hebrew word is ‘sane’ pronounced saw-nay. Its definition is what you would expect…to abhor or despise something. The ancient Hebrew language started with pictographs and later became a ‘phonetic’ language. It is important to use all the resources we have in the Hebrew and Greek languages, as it will give us valuable insight in our bible study.
Hebraic thought differs from our own process of thinking in that the Hebrews were concrete thinkers in contrast to our own abstract way of thinking.
An abstract is a word or thought that cannot be related to one of the five senses; hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. Concrete thought relates all words, concepts and ideas to something that can be sensed by the five senses. For instance, the Hebrew word (aph) is the nose, or nostrils, but is the same word for anger since one who is angry will flare the nostrils.
The Greek word for hate is miseo. The Greeks were better at conveying those ‘abstract’ concepts. This word does have similar meaning as the Hebrew ‘sane’, to despise or abhor, but it also gets a bit more into an abstract meaning that will give a bit more insight into the word. It also means ‘to love less’. This definition seems to fall into the context of some scripture that talks about hatred. In Genesis 29, it talks about Jacob loving Rachael and hating (miseo) Leah. In this case, the concept is that Jacob preferred Rachael over Leah. In other words he put Leah first.
In the Arabic language, there is not a word for LIKE, so you will find that translators used the extreme opposite in translating what was being said. Another example is found in Luke 14, Jesus is telling the crowds…“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Wait a minute…I thought scripture teaches us to honor our parents, and love our wife and children and family. Again, there is no contradiction here.
If we put anything over our love for Christ…not preferring Him over all, we cannot be His disciple. We must realize the difference of the words in the context and culture for which they were used.
When the Bible does speak of God’s hatred, the object of His hatred is sin and wickedness. Among the things God hates are idolatry (Deuteronomy 12:31; 16:22), child sacrifice, sexual perversion (Leviticus 20:1–23), and those who do evil (Psalm 5:4–6; 11:5). Proverbs 6:16–19 lists seven things the Lord hates: pride, lying, murder, evil plots, those who love evil, false witnesses, and troublemakers.
Notice that this passage does not include just things that God hates; it includes people as well.
The reason is simple: sin is carried out by a sinner. The sin cannot be separated from the sinner except by the forgiveness available in Christ alone. God hates lying, yes, but lying always involves a person—a liar—who chooses to lie. God cannot judge the lie without also judging the liar.
Back to the Psalm: David writes, “You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4, ESV). By contrast, those who take refuge in God will “be glad” and “ever sing for joy” (verse 11). In fact, both Psalm 5 and Psalm 11 draw a stark contrast between the righteous (those who take refuge in God) and the wicked (those who rebel against God).
[John 3:36 ESV] 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
The hatred of God is hard to process in light of the command to love. Scripture is clear that hatred is not appropriate for the people of God. Jesus said: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 ESV).
Jesus told us to love one another (John 13:34), to love our neighbors (Matthew 19:19) and even to love our enemies – that leaves no room for hatred of any kind.
Christians rightly understand themselves as a people called to love – even our enemies.
Therefore have a hard time understanding a God who reserves the right to hate.
But we are not God. While God has given man dominion over many things, there are many things God reserves the right to do that we cannot.
God judges the wicked – we cannot. He alone has that authority.
God has complete authority over heaven and hell – only He decides the outcome of our eternal soul - we don’t have that authority.
God makes the rain to fall on the righteous and the wicked alike – we cannot.
A good analogy is that of an underage child living with parents. Just as those parents have authority and are allowed to do things that the children cannot – so there are things that God does in his sovereign power that we cannot. God’s ways are not like ours. He is holy and righteous and He has complete authority over His creation. His mercy is enduring, but so is His justice. He would not be God if that were not so. God is God and we are not.
It is also helpful for us to realize that we are not the King.
(Romans 13:3–4 ESV) Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Here we learn that Kings do not bear the sword in vain – they bear it for a purpose and that purpose is to punish evil and to protect good. A King is allowed to use force, lethal force if necessary, to pursue those objectives – to state the obvious, that privilege is only given to a select few.
On the contrary Jesus said to His followers: Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:39 ESV)
God grants authority to people in power. But we must never forget that God is the ultimate authority. We must adhere to His terms, not our own.
Any thought or study upon the hatred of God for sinners must end in thankfulness for the cross of Jesus Christ.
(Romans 5:8–11 ESV) God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
The Bible says that when we were sinners, we were enemies of God and under his wrath; but it also says that Jesus bore our sins in his body on the cross.
[Colossians 2:13-14 ESV] 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Listen again to what David says about the righteous, those who take refuge in the Lord.
[Psalm 5:11-12 ESV] 11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. 12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield. I mentioned earlier about the stark contrast between evildoers and those that were deemed righteous. God’s great love can outweigh the hatred if we accept the sacrifice that was made. You see, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin. There is no earthly man or woman who ever lived that could make themselves righteous. That was handled by the God of the universe-the God who created everything. He was and is the only one with authority to make a way for us to become children of God.
For our sake he made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God. [2 Cor 5:21 ESV]
He is also the only righteous judge that has the authority over hate.
Do you serve the same God as King David and the Apostle John?
Have you relinquished all your rights to Jesus?
Are you willing to study Gods word so that you can be prepared to answer the hard questions?