How does one reconcile David’s statement in Ps 139:21-22 with Christ’s teaching?


(Lowell Sexton) #1

How does one reconcile David’s statement in Ps 139:21-22 with Christ’s teaching?


(Andrew Bulin) #2

The chapter begins by glorifying God and declaring His infinitive ability. In this later part of the chapter, the psalmist is declaring which side he is on:

Psalm 139:21-24 NASB
[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 the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies. [23] Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; [24] And see if there be any hurtful n way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. …

In contrast, it could be said that the psalmist is hating God’s enemies as opposed to the psalmist’s own enemies. That may seem tricky, but it might also be an interesting discussion around how much God loves those He sends to hell. And then Jesus also talked about hate for others to be His disciple (Lk. 14:26). [1]

The psalmist is saying that those things that God would hate are found nowhere in the psalmist’s life and he’s on God’s side. He is against those that are actively deceiving God’s people (v. 20). In those days living under a theocracy, bearing a false witness against YHWH was quite serious.

I don’t believe this passage allows me to live in contrast to Jesus’ command to love my enemies. I’m reminded that I must be resolute in my opposition to wrongdoing and not become secularized for the sake of tolerance. However, how I act on it is also of great importance.

Where do you stand on this? How would you try to explain this passage in continuity with the teachings of Jesus?

[1] John Goldingay, Psalms: 90 - 150 in Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Wisdom and Psalms, vol. 3, ed. Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008) 638 - 640.


(Lakshmi Mehta) #3

@Lowell, Psalm 139 has been considered as a psalm with imprecatory prayer. @SeanO has a discussion on " Should Christians pray imprecatory prayers" that you might find interesting.