Psalm 139:21-22, "Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and
am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect
hatred: I count them mine enemies."
This morning, some verses prove difficult for out minds to reconcile. While the verses themselves are not dysfunctional to the overall harmony of Holy Writ, our finite minds sometimes have difficulty grasping the teaching or concept. These verses, many times, are not hard to understand (by their language), but they are difficult to apply (based on other verses in other places). However, when studying these types of verses (and all verses for that matter), there are two keys to keep in mind that help in applying the verse or context in question. The first key, as already stated, is to understand completely and without reservation that what we are studying is the truth through and through. Any deviation from this key to study will end up in a slippery slope of disaster and folly in our minds. The second key is to try to approach the context from the perspective of the one that wrote it. While we understand that men penned these words, we also understand that the Author is God Himself. So, our task of study is to try to understand what the penman was thinking when he wrote it, and what God sees through His untrammeled vision.
The penman of this Psalm is the sweet Psalmist of Israel: King David. As with many of his psalms, this division has great overtones of the Greater David: Jesus Christ the Righteous. David was blessed, by Divine Inspiration, to write many words that give us insight to some of the Saviour's inner monologue with His Father. Psalm 22 begins with the same words that Christ uttered from the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The verses that follow are not words uttered audibly from the cross, but they show forth what the Saviour was saying inwardly (based on the premise of verse 1). So also this Psalm gives us overtures of the Greater David, especially in verses 13-16, with grand declarations of His foreknowledge, election, birth, etc.
Therefore, knowing that David penned the Psalm, Christ is prophesied in the Psalm, and the Holy Spirit directly inspired the authorship of the Psalm, let us approach our investigation of the verses above from all three perspectives. Beginning with King David, we see that the Lord blessed him to exact punishment on those that oppressed Israel. The Lord used his sword to vanquish army after army, beginning when David was but a mere youth against the giant Goliath. David showed forth a strong reliance upon the Lord, and the Lord honoured the king after His own heart with victory after victory against those that defied the armies of the living God. (I Samuel 17:26) Therefore, David's voice is heard in the words as he shows forth the same thought as the Lord about the Lord's enemies. As the Lord's enemies, David counted them his enemies, and as the Lord hates those enemies, so David hated them as well. As many of the nations that opposed Israel are
indicative of the non-elect (Edom or Esau being a good example), the type fits the anti-type that we will now discuss.
The Greater David showed forth over and over during His walk here that He was in complete accord and harmony with His Father. That that His Father desired, He desired. The purpose and will of the Father in the salvation of sinners was the same purpose and will that He came to perform. He even speaks of His union and relationship with the Father as being one. (John 10:30) While two different persons in the Godhead, yet they were one in thought, will, purpose, and desire. Therefore, the enemies of Almighty God are the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ, and those whom the Father hates, the Son hates as well. Since there is no discordance between the Godhead, the hate must be the same for all. Jesus counted those enemies of God His enemies as well. He hated them with the same perfect hatred that the Father does.
Finally, the Holy Spirit hates those that the Father and Son hate, as He is in perfect accord with them as well. As the Divine Author of this passage, the Spirit counts those enemies His enemies, and He hates them equally, justly, and righteously as they do. So, from each vantage point, we see that those that wrote the passage and those prophesied in the passage have a perspective that lends itself to this point. But, is there an application to us here today in all of this? Is this simply a prophecy of Christ, a showing of hatred by the Godhead, and David's historical account of his conduct among the armies of Israel? Is there more here for us today? I believe that the answer is yes; we have an application to apply for us here that still fits within the framework of overall Scriptural harmony.
There is a recent expression that has become quite trite in its usage but still quite good in the thought: What would Jesus do? We have all seen the bracelets that people wear and heard the statement uttered in situations where it ought not, but the overall thought of the question is a good one. What would He do? More importantly in our discussion, what does He do? If we are striving to act more Christ-like, then we need to seek to approach this as He would, does, and did. He had many enemies while He walked this earth. He, in heaven today, still has many enemies on this earth. He knows exactly who they are, what they are doing, what they have done, and what will become of them. As the Sovereign King and Judge, He does not exact anything unjustly or unrighteously. Everything He does is good and without iniquity. So, how does He deal with His enemies today? How did He deal with them then?
We are commanded, as much as lieth in us, to live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18) The reasons it is not for us to know who is a child of God and who is not are many, but one of the chief reasons is that we would have great difficulty if not an impossibility to follow this injunction of Scripture should we have such knowledge. We would not be able to do good to them that despitefully use us, pray for them, and show acts of lovingkindness unto them. (Matthew 5:43-45) Therefore, we cannot approach it quite from His vantage point in that we do not know for sure who is and who is not, but we can follow the overall thought that He employs in dealing with them here. How did Christ behave Himself around His detractors? Did He lash out at them even when in the right? Indeed, He showed much longsuffering in His speech and conduct, and the example for us is to do likewise.
Paul tells us that God endures with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. (Romans 9:21-22) The way that the Lord looks upon His enemies is an endurance with much longsuffering. He hates them yes, but He will not exact that which they deserve until that great and notable day of the Lord come. He still sends rain on the just and the unjust, and wicked men living in a providentially blessed land enjoy benefits based on the salt of the Lord's saints' Godly living. Certainly, His eye knows who they are, while our does not, but He still endures these things.
Since we have not the knowledge that He has but still understand that He has enemies, we need to understand that we have enemies. Our hatred of them (based on their hatred of God) is a just thing, but it does not merit unjust behaviour. In fact, using our Saviour and His actions as a model, we should endeavour to show forth the more longsuffering, enduring a great fight of afflictions. Therefore, following the injunctions of the Saviour, we do good unto both our friends and enemies, and in so doing, we show forth longsuffering to those that hate the Lord. Indeed, this thought is not an easy one to fulfill, but considering that He knows who they are (while we do not) and still endures these things, what great thing is it for us to do so as well? Standing and contending for the things that we should (faith once delivered to the saints) is a just enterprise and an incumbent duty of ours to perform, but just as much responsibility is laid upon us to endure patiently through the storm of life. What did He do, or what would He do? He endured. May we endure in our lives following the perfect example of meekness and humility in our service here.