Psalm 139:21

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 21. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? He was a good hater, for he hated only those who hated good. Of this hatred he is not ashamed, but he sets it forth as a virtue to which he would have the Lord bear testimony. To love all men with benevolence is our duty; but to love any wicked man with complacency would be a crime. To hate a man for his own sake, or for any evil done to us, would be wrong; but to hate a man because he is the foe of all goodness and the enemy of all righteousness, is nothing more nor less than an obligation. The more we love God the more indignant shall we grow with those who refuse him their affection. "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be Anathema Maranatha." Truly, "jealousy is cruel as the grave." The loyal subject must not be friendly to the traitor.

And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? He appeals to heaven that he took no pleasure in those who rebelled against the Lord; but, on the contrary, he was made to mourn by a sight of their ill behaviour. Since God is everywhere, he knows our feelings towards the profane and ungodly, and he knows that so far from approving such characters the very sight of them is grievous to our eyes.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 21. Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? The simple future in the first clause comprehends several distinct shades of meaning. Do I not, may I not, must I not, hate those hating thee? Hate them, not as man hates, but as God hates. --Joseph Addison Alexander.

Verse 21. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? Can he who thinks good faith the holiest thing in life, avoid being an enemy to that man who, as quaestor, dared to despoil, desert, and betray? Can he who wishes to pay due honours to the immortal gods, by any means avoid being an enemy to that man who has plundered all their temples? -- Cicero.

Verse 21. And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? The expression here -- "grieved" -- explains the meaning of the word "hate" in the former member of the verse. It is not that hatred which is followed by malignity or ill will; it is that which is accompanied with grief, pain of heart, pity, sorrow. So the Saviour looked on men: Mark 3:5 : -- "And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts." The Hebrew word used here, however, contains also the idea of being disgusted with; of loathing; of nauseating. The feeling referred to is anger -- conscious disgust -- at such conduct; grief, pain, sorrow, that men should evince such feelings towards their Maker. --Albert Barnes.

Verse 21. Am not I grieved? etc. Acted upon by mingled feelings of sorrow for them, and loathing at their evil practices. Thus our Lord "looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts": Mark 3:5 . -- French and Skinner.

Verse 21. It is said that Adam Smith disliked nothing more than that moral apathy -- that obtuseness of moral perception -- which prevents man from not only seeing clearly, but feeling strongly, the broad distinction between virtue and vice, and which, under the pretext of liberality, is all indulgent even to the blackest crimes. At a party at Dalkeith Palace, where Mr. ----, in his mawkish way, was finding palliations for some villainous transactions, the doctor waited in patient silence until he was gone, then exclaimed: "Now I can breathe more freely. I cannot bear that man; he has no indignation in him."

Verse 21-22. A faithful servant hath the same interests, the same friends, the same enemies, with his master, whose cause and honour he is, upon all occasions, in duty bound to support and maintain. A good man hates, as God himself doth; he hates not the persons of men, but their sins; not what God made them, but what they have made themselves. We are neither to hate the men, on account of the vices they practise; nor to love the vices, for the sake of the men who practise them. He who observeth invariably this distinction, fulfils the perfect law of charity, and hath the love of God and of his neighbour abiding in him. --George Horne.

Verse 21-22. First, we must hate the company and society of manifest and obstinate sinners, who will not be reclaimed. Secondly, all their sins, not communicating with any man in his sin, we must have no fellowship (as with the workers so) with the unfruitful works of darkness. Thirdly, all occasions and inducements unto these sins. Fourthly, all appearances of wickedness ( 1 Thessalonians 5:22 ), that is, which men in common judgment account evil; and all this must proceed from a good ground, even from a good heart hating sin perfectly, that is all sin, as David, "I hate them with perfect hatred", and not as some, who can hate some sin, but cleave to some other: as many can hate pride, but love covetousness or some other darling sin: but we must attain to the hatred of all, before we can come to the practice of this precept ( Jude 1:23 ); besides that, all sins are hateful even in themselves. --William Perkins, 1558-1602.

Verse 21, 24. The temper of mourning for public sins, for the sins of others, is the greatest note of sincerity. When all other signs of righteousness may have their exceptions, this temper is the utmost term, which we cannot go beyond in our self examination. The utmost prospect David had of his sincerity, when he was upon a diligent enquiry after it, was his anger and grief for the sin of others. When he had reached so far, he was at a stand, and knew not what more to add "Am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me." If there be anything that better can evidence my sincerity than this, Lord, acquaint me with it; "know my heart", i.e., make me to know it. He whose sorrow is only for matter confined within his own breast, or streams with it in his life, has reason many times to question the truth of it; but when a man cannot behold sin as sin in another without sensible regret, it is a sign he hath savingly felt the bitterness of it in his own soul. It is a high pitch and growth, and a consent between the Spirit of God and the soul of a Christian, when he can lament those sins in others whereby the Spirit is grieved; when he can rejoice with the Spirit rejoicing, and mourn with the Spirit mourning. This is a clear testimony that we have not self ends in the service of God; that we take not up religion to serve a turn; that God is our aim, and Christ our beloved. --Stephen Charnock.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 21-22.

  1. Such hatred one need not be ashamed of.
  2. Such hatred one should be able to define: "grieved."
  3. Such hatred one must labour to keep right. "Perfect hatred" is a form of hate consistent with all the virtues.