Probably Not Your Life Verse: Considering Hate in Psalm 139:21-22

For even one sinner to be acquitted, a just price must be paid.

It’s not hard to be upset at the evils and ungodliness around us in the culture. But, walking with this holy God is not only relevant for the world around me. It has implications upon my thoughts and attitudes inside of me. It’s easy to turn on the TV and get mad at everything going on. And, we should be sorrowed over that. But, true biblical spirituality takes time, to pray as vv. 23-24: “God, search me; expose my wrong attitudes; deal with the idols in my heart; expose and eradicate what is dishonoring to you from my life.” That’s the kind of integrity and humility with which we must walk in this world.


I did not grow up in Awana. But I’m willing to guess that it wasn’t one of the weekly verses.

“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 the utmost hatred; they have become my enemies” (Ps. 139:21-22).

How do we understand this as Christians? And how might we navigate these verses and the call to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44-45)? A few considerations:

1. God is holy.

Even a quick reading of the inerrant books of the Bible tell us that the true God is a God of blazing holiness (Lev. 11:44-45). He is set apart; distinct in all his ways, not the least of which is his stance towards sin (Hab. 1:13).

To a decadent 21st century audience tainted with post post-modern sensibilities, the concept of a holy God is like nails grinding on a chalkboard. Even more, nothing of natural man’s sensibilities are able to embrace the truth of God’s holiness. Naturally, we are unholy and flee anything that exposes our sinfulness (John 3:19-20).

But the fact remains, no one his holy like the Lord (1 Sam. 2:2). He must oppose all that is wrong and evil. God would not be good if he had a neutral stance towards any level of wrong.

Our God is an infinite God who cannot be packaged up in shallow, man-centered ideology. He has a love for sinners (Matt. 5:45), but also a hatred (Ps. 5:4-6). The notion that, “God hates the sin but loves the sinner,” is not the full story. Psalm 5 is in the Bible. “You hate all who do iniquity” (Ps. 5:5). It’s been said that God does not send sin to hell, but sinners. At the judgment, God opens the book and enacts justice upon sinners who committed sin, not sin (Rev. 20:11-15). Eric Alexander has said, “Sin is not an abstract thing. Sin becomes sin when it is performed in the life of the sinner. God’s attitude of absolute and final opposition finds its expression in his judgment of sinners.” For one sin, we deserve an eternity in hell.

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