God loves everyone. God is love. For God so loved the world… These are messages one will hear in Church. It is true that we who are alive right now are living in an age of grace and mercy. Where God is calling women, men, children, elderly, black, white, LGBT+, and all other identifiers society places on us to know him and to be in relationship with him. God has one identifier for human kind and that is “people”. We are created by him and in his image. God’s grace and mercy are truly loving in an unselfish way.
Yet that grace, mercy, and love cannot compromise the sovereign holiness of God. While we live in the moment of grace and mercy that moment is just that a moment that will pass and fade much too quickly. Psalm 139 is a famous Psalm attributed to King David. He sings of a God that he has known in a personal relational way. He sings of a God that is all knowing, all powerful, and to whom David owes everything. God made David a King. God saved David from death many times. God made David’s very body and spirit. King David sings of a perfect loving God.
However, David also sings of a Holy God and this verse about God’s holiness is offensive to our modern ears.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. Psalm 139:21-22 ESV
To hate with a complete hatred seems… well contradictory and in opposition to the teachings of Jesus.
The Bible, God’s love letter to people, is never contradictory so there is a perspective we need to keep in mind here in regard to David describing his alignment and desire to be with God in holiness that is expressed in terms of hatred. David is moving to God’s side in the spiritual battle against evil. There is actual real evil in this world and it is to be hated. Holiness demands that we hate what is evil. Evil murders, steals, and destroys everything for selfish gain. One of the most interesting exchanges between man and angel happens to Joshua at the battel of Jericho.
13 And then this, while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword. Joshua stepped up to him and said, “Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies’?” 14 He said, “Neither. I’m commander of God’s army. I’ve just arrived.” Joshua fell, face to the ground, and worshiped. He asked, “What orders does my Master have for his servant?” Joshua 5:13-14 MSG
Joshua needs everyone to pick a side for the battle. After Angel speaks Joshua drops his side and moves to the side of God wanting only to know what God’s mind would be for the upcoming battle. We hear this all the time especially in political fights. “God is on my side”… NO! God is not so small a god that he is on anyone’s side. Everything revolves around God because he is God. We do not pull God into our corner. We do not rub the magic lamp and get three wishes. God never says I am yours to command. David is saying whoever is your enemy. Whoever God hates and whatever God hates. Then I too will hate that as well. Of note here is an ugly place where this mindset may take people down an evil path. Think for a moment of the author David who is a King and who commands armies. David is a warrior who has killed men in battle. David does not say that he will be an instrument of justice or war against God’s enemies. David acknowledges that these are not his enemies that he will hate but they are God’s enemies and David knows that God will deal with them in his time and in his way. While we know God loves us and we should love others even those who are unloving that does not mean that we should excuse any behavior or that we in our own personal lives should live any way we want. God made me. He knows everything that is true and I should trust him. Therefore, whatever God calls right and whatever God says is real then those things I will love and whatever God calls evil and whatever God calls wrong I want to hate. Yet as a follower of Christ I will speak grace and mercy to anyone that has an ear to listen. For God so loved the world that he made Jesus available to anyone that will move to God’s side in this time of grace and mercy. Take advantage of this gift dear reader.