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Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Hatred of King Jesus

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

These “companions” were not bad guys.

The psalmist is probably speaking of other Israelite royalty, so Jesus had something significant in common with them despite their human failings: they were all kings. People like David, Solomon and Hezekiah. They served God, they honored God, and they led his people out to victory.

Not bad guys at all, some of them.

Above Your Fellows

But the attitude of King Jesus — the thoughts, the heart, the natural disposition — is better than the best of them. It pleases God, and God has consequently blessed him above all.

David was a man after God’s own heart, but I’m sorry, he did not love righteousness and hate wickedness like King Jesus did. Look at the poor man’s track record: he didn’t love righteousness enough to execute the demands of justice on his son Absalom, or to steer clear of other men’s wives. He didn’t hate wickedness when he plotted and executed Uriah’s death. In a faint, tepid way David anticipated a king to come, one whose scepter is a scepter of uprightness. But come on, on his best day David was only a shadow.

And while David wrote many Messianic psalms, he didn’t pen this one. If we have any doubt that the Sons of Korah were speaking of Jesus when they addressed their verses to “the king”, the writer to the Hebrews would correct us on that score. He quotes the passage and applies it to Jesus, the “Son”, the “radiance of the glory of God”, the “exact imprint of his nature”, the one who sits today at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Divine royalty. By the time Hebrews was written, we might reasonably and biblically expand the list of “companions” of the Son to include prophets, priests, angels and even apostles, for he was and is all these things — he shared their experiences and served God just as they did — and he excels, trumps and exceeds by orders of magnitude every last one of them.

Loving and Hating

King Jesus exceeds them for many reasons. One is his love of righteousness, a virtue which has been watered down in our popular culture into some kind of sad, virtue-signaling affection for the concepts of equality, multiculturalism and tolerance.

This ain’t that. The “cause of truth, meekness and righteousness” involves firing sharp arrows into the hearts of the king’s enemies. As the psalmists put it:
“The peoples fall under you.”
Not much tolerance there, folks. Because the flipside of loving righteousness is hating wickedness. When you hate wickedness and wickedness keeps insisting on doing its wicked thing anyway, at some point the arrows are going to come out and do some serious damage.

King Jesus is a hater, and his hatred is intense. We don’t hear about that much unless we spend a lot of time in our Bibles. Moreover, his hatred pleases God and reflects God’s character.

Hatred? Really?

A few examples, you say? Not hard. Here we go:
  • He hates the wicked individually: The king hates “all evildoers”. He destroys those who characteristically speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
  • He hates evildoers in bunches too: David specifically says the king hates the assembly of evildoers. He will not sit with the wicked. If he doesn’t like what’s in their hearts, he definitely detests what happens when you get a bunch of them plotting in a room together.
  • He hates those who follow false gods: The king hates “those who pay regard to worthless idols,” says David. If there is only one true God, every lie is to be detested with godly fury. Probably a good time to mention that materialism is a false god and a worthless idol too, not to mention an abomination before God. David says the king hates “the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me”.
  • He hates lying, false ways and vain thoughts: Psalm 119 is full of hate, and remember, the Lord testified to the truth of this psalm.
  • He hates people who hate God: “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.”
We could make that list longer if we tack on the New Testament reference to the “works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate”, but I’m not sure we can say with absolute finality what sort of sin was involved.

We don’t hear much about the hatred of Christ, but the same Jesus who is constantly and correctly called “loving” can just as biblically be called a hater of evil — and not just evil deeds, but evildoers.

Love Your Enemies

But wait: aren’t we supposed to love our enemies? And didn’t Jesus do that? Shouldn’t we “hate the sin and love the sinner?”

Well, yes and no.

Here we have to acknowledge that both the Old and New Testaments use the word “hate” (and love, for that matter) to describe two very different things. The first is an attitude, the second is an action.

This distinction is apparent in the very simple phrase “Love your enemies”. Since it takes the form of a command, it should be obvious it has nothing to do with how we feel about those who oppose us, but rather with how we are to treat them. We are to love with our words and deeds those to whom we have a legitimate and godly attitude of righteous enmity. We recognize groups and individuals as opposed to God and destined for his judgment, hating him and hated by him, and because of their choice to hate him, they have become our enemies too. But instead of giving them what they absolutely deserve, we show them the same love God does in our deeds toward them and our prayers for them. God’s desire in this is that they repent and cease putting themselves in the place of enmity they have willingly chosen.

If they do not, ultimately King Jesus must act on his righteous hatred of both sin and sinner, and it is for this characteristic intensity of commitment that God commends his Son and heir in both Psalms and Hebrews.

In our omni-tolerant day, might it be too countercultural of me to say, “Go thou and do likewise,” do you think?

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