Righteous Hatred
Psalm 139:22
I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them my enemies.

: — What, then, is a perfect hatred? What may there be which is right, worthy, and fruitful of good, in the perfection of hatred? If we look go the Hebrew psalms for an answer, we notice that such expressions of hatred as occur in them are usually of an official character; they are expressive, that is, not so much of personal feeling as of the kingly consciousness. They are portentous with the indignation of a people against wrong. But even when we read some of the imprecations of the psalms as expressions of a national sense of wrong we cannot always, with our gentler Christian training, prevent the feeling that the royal psalmist did not entirely succeed in his desire to attain to the perfection of hatred. We must look to Him in whom all the moral energies as well as prophetic strivings of the life of the true Israel were fulfilled, if we would learn in what spirit of hatred of all wrong may itself reach perfection. In the light of His life we may say, then —

1. That a perfect hatred of evil proceeds from love. A perfect hatred will be an expression of a tremendous love. It cannot be perfect if it does not proceed from love, as nothing can be right without love. The great hatreds of sin among prophets, reformers and martyrs have always been characterized by this pure flame and passion of love for man. All thought of self was consumed in their intense sense of justice. Because they loved the people, because they loved their city, because they loved their country, they faced the evil, they defied the wrong, they gave their lives in grand protest of their death against the sin of the world. So was it superlatively with the Christ. Because God so loved the world, the Son of His love came from heaven to live a life of daily protest against all its suffering and shame. This, then, is one note and test of any hatred of evil, by which we may search our conduct and purify our passion of righteousness: Does our sense of wrong proceed from love? Does our rebuke of any evil express love?

2. It will be an orderly hatred. Anger, which is to be condemned, is an outburst of feeling, a tumult of words, a violence of deed; but no sign of our disorder of passion ever appeared in the Christ's condemnation of sin. His wrath against human wrong was as orderly as His love of the Father. It was the pure calm of a soul at white heat. Herein, then, lies another test for us to use in searching our hearts. Are our judgments outbursts of feeling, or are they revealings of the moral order of our lives? If mere outbreakings of passion, they may belong to the whole company of the powers of confusion in the disorder of our world's sin; but if really Christlike, there will be in them both the restraint and the power of the moral order of Christ's life against the sin of the world,

3. It is a working hatred. This follows both from the motive of it, which is love, and from the orderliness which is always distinctive of the law of love. Christ's hatred of sin was a working hatred. He did more self-exhausting work in His three years of life for men and against their sins than any human soul before or since has ever endured. Right hero is the difference too often between us and our Christ. We speak the momentary word of right and do no more. He spoke the word of eternal right, and put the love of His life behind it. We feel the evil and pass on; He felt the sin, and did not pass by on the other side. We express our feeling of moral indignation, and leave the poor world to right itself; He spoke the words of eternal life, and gave Himself to be crucified that the wrong world might be made right.

4. It is a sacrificial hatred of sin. The psalmist had not comprehended this diviner element of it. His Messiah was the Lord coming to judgment, not to bear the cross. But the true Messiah, when He came, was the suffering Son of God. He bore our sins; He suffered in our stead. What is the mightiest protest against wrong ever witnessed in this or any possible world? What but the Cross of Christ. Wherein lies the Divinest condemnation of sin to the eternal ages? In the sufferings of Christ, the just for the unjust. What is the satisfaction of the law by which sin is condemned with a perfect condemnation? Oh, not in punishment, though eternal punishment were its due; but in the infinite pathos of the suffering for it of the Son of God's love. Thus we come in the end to the same characteristic of perfect hatred which we found at the beginning and motive of it; it ends as it began, in love. It ends in forgiveness, as it began in condemnation; both forgiveness and condemnation being part and process of the same eternal love of God in Christ. We might say with equal truth, God so loved the world, or God so hated the sin of the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life. For our God is one God, and in loving righteousness and hating iniquity He is the same God over all, blessed for ever.

(Newman Smyth, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

WEB: I hate them with perfect hatred. They have become my enemies.

Indignation Against the Wicked
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