In my experience, many Christians struggle with the word “hate,” as though it shouldn’t have any part in their vocabulary. And yet here is that word right in the middle of Psalm 119, this longest chapter in the Bible which extols the value of the Bible in all 176 verses.
I remember watching “Sesame Street” when they would sing the song, “One of these things is not like the other.” Let’s play that same game from this Sin/Shin section of Psalm 119:
- I stand in awe of Your Word
- I rejoice in Your promise
- I love Your law
- I praise You, God, for Your righteous laws
- I follow Your commands
- I obey Your statues
- I love Your statutes
- I obey Your precepts
- I hate falsehood
Doesn’t that last one seem out of place? In fact, it’s not just “hate,” but one translation says, “hate and abhor,” and another says, “hate and detest”!
But I want you to notice first of all that it is not a person that the psalmist hates, but falsehood, deception, fraud, lying. The root word in Hebrew is someone who is purposefully dealing falsely as a means of tricking or cheating.
This is what we could correctly say is righteous anger.
The psalmist’s love for the glory of God is great, which means he also reveres this Book of Truth—the Bible—that leads people to basking in God’s glory. To be apathetic about lies that are deliberately attempting to cheat people out of an intimate relationship with God is the exact opposite of love.
Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is the opposite of love.
Hate of those things which keep people from God is the completion of the love for God and the respect for the Book that brings people to Him.
To love fully, I must also hate well. Not people, but actions that keep people away from experiencing and knowing God’s love. May all of us learn from the Holy Spirit how to awaken from any apathy we may have, and to correctly express our righteous anger.