Jehovah the All-knowing God: (5) Our Hatred of His Enemies

July 20, 2003 / No. 3159

Dear radio friends,

     Please read in the Word of God Psalm 139:19-22.   This passage requires us to face some hard questions.  Is David sinning as he writes these words, or is he setting forth some truth which the child of God must follow in his own life?

     Not surprisingly, many say today that David is sinning.  He expressly says he hates men, whereas Scripture makes clear, we are told, that hatred is wrong, that we must tolerate others, that we must forgive others, and that we must follow Jesus’ example of love.

     The problem with that is, in the first place, that David writes by inspiration.  God, by His Spirit, governs David as he writes these words.  In the second place, David writes as though he knows that God will be pleased with him for manifesting this hatred.  He goes on to say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart:  try me, and know my thoughts:  and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  He knows, as he speaks to God of his hatred of Jehovah’s enemies, that God is pleased with him in this.  Thirdly, Scripture tells us that even Jehovah does hate.  Though He is a God of love, that does not mean that He does not hate.  “I loved Jacob,” He says in Malachi 1:2.   Then, in verse 3, “I hated Esau.”  Any who might say that hatred of Esau was merely a lesser love than He had for Jacob must reckon with the words that follow:  “And laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”  Such was the hatred of Jehovah that He destroyed Esau.

     The child of God must, therefore, understand that there is expressed in these words of David regarding his hatred of the enemies of Jehovah, a tuth that we must emulate.  Of course, we must understand clearly just what this hatred is and what it is not.  We must understand very clearly in what way we may or do show a hatred that pleases Jehovah and in what way we may not.  Our basic explanation of the text is going to be this:  David, in expressing his hatred of Jehovah’s enemies, shows his love for Jehovah Himself.  Love for Jehovah:  this is the keeping of the law.  One must hate not his enemies, but Jehovah’s enemies.  He shows his hatred not by killing them but by not associating with them.  And in stating his hatred of Jehovah’s enemies, David shows how devoted he is to the cause of God.

     As we go through the message today, we will notice four key points that, when understood properly, will help us know what it is to hate the enemies of Jehovah.

     First, we must ask what was this hatred?  David makes clear that he hated the enemies of Jehovah.  Here is key-point number one.  David is clear on this.  He refers in verses 19-21 to “the wicked,” “ye bloody men,” “them … that hate thee,” “those that rise up against thee.”  David is not speaking of his hatred of his own personal enemies.  There is the command of Jesus:  Love your enemies.  David did that.  He loved king Saul who was his enemy and tried to kill him.  He loved a man named Shimei who cursed him.  In both of these David showed his love by not killing them, or even harming them.  David does not say that he hates his own enemies.  He hates, rather, the enemies of Jehovah.  And, while sometimes these might be one and the same person, we hate such a one not because he is our enemy, but rather because he is Jehovah’s enemy.

     That hatred of David for the enemies of Jehovah was a genuine, heartfelt hatred.  Do not I hate them, am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?  David expresses in these words his continual activity of hatred.  This is not a one-time act from which he turns later, but it is a continual activity in his life.  That this hatred is genuine and heartfelt is also clear from the word “perfect.”  “I hate them with perfect hatred.”  This hatred involves the whole man and reaches a certain goal:  the goal of manifesting that hatred by separation.

     That leads us to ask, then, how is this hatred manifested?  Key-point number two today is that this hatred is not manifested by killing or harming these enemies.  David’s words here give no justification for what are called today hate crimes or an attitude of heart that desires the destruction of any other human being.  Whatever is the idea of hating the enemies of Jehovah, it does not include killing, torturing, or harming those whom we do not like.  The Christian must be aware of this also.  In the news from time to time, we hear of Christians killing abortionists, or killing homosexuals, as though that is the way to show their love for God.  There is no justification of that idea in this text, for David does not speak of hating them by killing or harming them.

     It is true that David does speak of the day of their destruction.  “Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God.”  David does believe that the day will come when God will destroy them — not just the earthly destruction of earthly death, but David has in mind also the eternal, everlasting destruction of hell.  Not everybody likes to hear that God destroys men in hell.  How can a loving God destroy?  The question forgets that God requires love and faith from men, and He hates those who do not love Him and believe in Him.  So much does He hate the failure to love and believe in Him that He sent Jesus Christ to bear our punishment, the punishment of the sins of all the people of God; for if our punishment was not borne, we also would be destroyed in hell.  But those who do not believe in God and in Jesus Christ, and who will not obey, must be punished.  David speaks of that day of their destruction as something they justly deserve.  But in speaking of that day he makes no mention of hastening that day, that is, he does nothing to indicate that he will try to bring that day to pass more quickly.  He simply looks for the day when God destroys them Himself.  And he speaks of that day as a certainty.

     How then is the hatred of David manifested?  Key-point number three today is that this hatred is manifested by living the antithesis.  “Depart from me therefore, ye bloody men,” he says in verse 19.  What is the antithesis?  It is the separation that God has created between men and men — that is, between those men, on the one hand, who are saved in Jesus Christ, chosen to salvation from all eternity, given the grace of the Holy Spirit, and one day brought to heaven, and, on the other hand, those men who do not love Christ, who will not obey God, who go about life flagrantly defying Him, and who will be brought to hell as their just destruction.  The antithesis is the separation between those two.  And David says now that he will live that antithesis.  “Depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.  I will have nothing to do with you.”

     To say of one person, “I will not be your friend,” is an aspect of hatred — not the kind of hatred that is wrong, not the kind of hatred that is going to lead us to kill or to harm.  It is simply a fact, and it is often forgotten today, that one way in which we show hatred is by refusing to be another person’s friend.

     Jesus commands us to love our enemies.  And by that, He means seek their good.  If you see them lying alongside the road and in need of help, help them.  If you see that harm has come upon them, show mercy to them.  But does Jesus’ command to love our enemies mean that we must be friends with them, that we must have fellowship with them?  That is not what Jesus means.  That becomes clear from the Word of God in our text.  The hatred of which David speaks is the kind of hatred that separates us from these wicked people.  Not that we will live separate geographically.  We are in the same world as the ungodly.  We work alongside of them.  We go to the stores alongside of them.  But we are not their friends.  We might speak to the ungodly, calling them to repentance.  But we do not join with them in recreation and fellowship with them.  Such is the antithetical life of the child of God.  It is that that David has in mind when he says, “I hate them, I will have no friendships with them.”

     Understanding then what that hatred of David for the enemies of Jehovah is, and seeing that it is not the kind of hatred so many would speak of immediately today, we can ask the question next:  Is David justified for this hatred of the enemies of Jehovah?  David does make an attempt to justify his hatred.  He justifies it on the basis of their wickedness.  He says in verse 19 that they are wicked:  “Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God.”  They are corrupt.  They have committed crimes worthy of death.  Having said that generally, David goes on to give specific instances of wickedness.  He calls them “bloody men.”  Bloody men, of course, are murderers.  This does not necessarily mean that these men have committed the outward act of murder. Perhaps David has in mind the hatred that they show in desiring the removal or the murder of another human being.  We read in I John 3:15, “Whosoever hateth his brother (and that hatred is not merely the form of separating from one’s fellowship but desiring one’s destruction) is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

The hatred of which David speaks

is the kind of hatred that separates us

from these wicked people.

     Not only are these men bloody, but they are also blasphemers.  They “speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.”  David refers to the kind of men who show their hatred of God and of Jesus Christ and of Scripture as the revelation of God and of the church as the people of God by rising up against God Himself.  “Am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?”  These are the kind of people who spread the lie, who hate the truth of Jesus Christ, and who do everything in their power to destroy the faith of God’s people.

     Because they show their utter contempt of Jehovah, David says that he is justified in hating them.  We can understand that justification when we realize that David was at war with these enemies of Jehovah because they were at war with God.  They are the enemies, the warriors against Jehovah.  In war there is no tolerance.  In war there is no trying to be nice to the enemy.  You may not do that in war because it will mean your death.  Anyone who has been in a war must surely understand this.  In war, hatred of one’s enemy is justified.  So David justifies his hatred of the enemies of Jehovah.  This is a matter of his devotion to his God and a matter of his life.

     There we have, in the first place then, the justification of this hatred of the enemies of God.  It must be on the basis of this justification that a child of God who truly loves God is ready to say that, with anyone who is at war with Jehovah, he will have no fellowship lest, in the process, he be cast out of Jehovah’s fellowship and friendship.  That is how David also justifies his hatred of the enemies of God.  He justifies it on the basis of the covenant of God.  What is the covenant?  It is that bond of friendship and fellowship which God unconditionally and sovereignly makes with His people.  David does not use the word “covenant” in our text, but he does use the covenantal name of God, the name Jehovah.  “Do not I hate them, O Jehovah, that hate thee?”

     The covenant implies love and fellowship and a desire to be pleasing to God.  One who is in that covenant necessarily hates those who are not.  And here we come to key-point number four:  Hatred is not always the opposite of love, but can be a manifestation of love.  Let me explain that.  It is certainly true that I cannot love and hate the same person.  That is not possible.  But I can hate one person in my love for another person.  A married man loves his wife.  Because he loves his wife and delights in covenant fellowship with her, he will have nothing to do with other women.  That does not mean that he is going to go out and kill other women.  But there is a sense in which he hates other women.  If another woman comes to him seeking his love, he tells her, “Depart from me, get away from me,” just as David says to the ungodly people in our text.  And that kind of attitude toward another woman shows love for the man’s wife.  That is David’s justification now for hating the enemies of God.  David is part of the bride of Jehovah and of Jesus Christ, part of the church.  All who hate his God, he has no fellowship with.

     Notice that, having explained the justification for this hatred, David tells Jehovah of it.  “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?”  The questions are rhetorical — that is, David does not expect an answer.  He is not asking because he does not know the answer.  Rather, he asks them to make a point.  The point is, “Indeed, I hate them, O Lord.  Indeed, I am grieved with those that rise up against Thee.”  He expresses that point in verse 22, “I hate them with perfect hatred:  I count them mine enemies.”

     Why does David take the trouble to tell Jehovah this?  The answer is, to show how great his love for God is.  He does not speak hypocritically when he speaks to God of the enemies of Jehovah, for he knows this truth about Him, namely, that Jehovah knows all things, as Psalm 139 has taught us repeatedly.  Because Jehovah knows all things, He knows David’s heart.  “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?  Thou Lord knowest.  And Thou dost know that this is the evidence of my love for Thee.”

Hatred is not always the opposite of love,

but can be a manifestation of love.

     It is important, then, that the child of God follow David’s example.  In our love for Jehovah God, we must have no fellowship, no friendship, with those who hate Jehovah.  We may desire their repentance and their salvation.  But we may not act as though they and we are alike.  There is something fundamentally different about us — so different that it must of necessity affect our outlook on life, the things we do, the people with whom we associate.  That difference is:  one hates Jehovah the only true God; the other loves Him.

     Do you tell Jehovah in prayer that you love Him?  Then do you ever try to demonstrate to Him in prayer how great and how sincere your love for Him is?  The way that David demonstrates that love and that sincerity we are to follow — by keeping ourselves from those who hate and oppose Jehovah God and His cause.  Amen.