“Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and 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, and lead me in the way everlasting,” Psalm 139:19-24.
In a day when the essence of man’s ‘religion’ is to sanctimoniously declare that they ‘love everyone and hate none’, it is somewhat startling for such to encounter words as these from holy David the king, of whom the Lord said: “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” (Acts 13:22).
Hatred plays a vital part in true religion. The Lord Jesus Himself commended the believers in the Ephesian church. “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate,” Revelation 2:6.
The Lord declared the same hatred of sin in the Old Testament age. “Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate,” Jeremiah 44:4. The Lord has not changed in His attitude, His hatred of sin. We, who would be like the Lord, must share in His hatred of evil!
It is hard for the blinded liberal theologians and their apologists to get round these words. They may quibble about the phrase in our text and claim that David was giving vent to sinful emotions, but they cannot say that of the One “Who knew no sin,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Yes, there are things that the Christian must hate.
The word ‘hate’ in our text is a Hebrew word which is translated in our Authorised Version of the Bible by the English word ‘hate’ 136 times, by ‘enemies’ 3 times, by ‘enemy’ 3 times and by ‘hateful’ once and some 146 other words of the same character, (‘hating’, ‘hateth’ etc.)
It is true that we are to ‘hate’ no one. “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him,” Leviticus 19:17.
“He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now,” 1 John 2:9.
“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him,” 1 John 3:15.
However, there is no contradiction between the words of David in the Psalm we are looking at and the words just quoted. They dwell together most amicably when rightly understood!
I. THERE CAN BE NO TRUE LOVE WITHOUT HATRED!
Pure love will ever be in passionate opposition to that which is contrary to what it loves. He that loves God and truth cannot help but hate the devil and lies! He will be unable to rest easy in the presence of such or be silent when their voice is heard! An example of this is seen in Acts 17:16. “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” Paul could not dwell at ease in the presence of wicked idolatry in Athens. The passage goes on: “Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him,” verse 17. He expressed himself in the presence of ‘devout persons’ and then in a more public fashion ‘in the market’ and that on a ‘daily’ basis.
Does this not tell us what we should ALL be doing in this day of abominable ‘idolatry’ in the places where once the gospel was preached. Such ought to be more offensive to the holy soul than idolatry on Mars Hill, a place that never knew the truth and light of the gospel!
It is to be noted that alongside Paul’s hatred of the idolatry of the Athenians there was a love for the souls of the same. He told them of salvation. “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you,” Acts 17:22-23.
The hatred the Christian has toward the ways of wicked men burns alongside a love for such sinners in the heart of the true believer.
2. WHERE THERE IS SUCH A LOVE THERE WILL BE A STRONG DENUNCIATION OF THE WAYS OF SINFUL MEN
Nothing heightens our love for Christ and stirs our hearts in opposition to sin like a close encounter with the lawless. So it was with Paul in Athens. I have often, in my years of preaching, been asked the question: “Why do you Christians in Ulster hate Roman Catholics?”
The question is aroused because of our opposition to Romanism and denunciations of its doctrines and practices. Outside of Ulster, there was little public conflict between professing ‘Biblical Christians’ and Roman Catholicism!
The reason for that was the people in Ulster have lived ‘cheek by jowl’ with the aggressiveness of Rome in the form of her ecclesiastical ‘ecumenism by which she has advanced her claims of being ‘the only true church’ and her political involvement in the terrorism of the IRA. Many priests have been involved in actual terrorism or in the aiding of the terrorists by purchasing or hiding weapons and explosives for them. Nine people were killed on August 31, 1972, when three car bombs devastated the Co Londonderry village of Claudy. It was later learned that ‘Father’ James Chesney was indeed a suspect in that terrorist attack and that a Police Ombudman’s report in 2010 found that he was a suspect. The report said police, the state and the Roman Catholic Church covered up his suspected role in the bombing.
In like manner, another infamous priest boasted of his links with the IRA and the aid he gave them. See the report in the Irish nationalist newspaper, ‘The Irish News’, under the headline: “Provo priest: My only regret? That I didn’t do more for IRA”.These are not the only examples of Rome’s clerics involvement with the terrorists of the IRA and their murder campaign. These and other instances of Rome’s involvement in terrorist attacks upon the Protestant people of Ulster, both in recent days and going back over centuries, has made us more aware of the true nature of Roman Catholicism and her hatred of all things Biblical. Consequently, these encounters with the true nature of Rome have brought forth strong condemnation of her ways which, in the eyes of many less acquainted with popery, are considered harsh, unwarranted and unchristian.
Such criticism is born of ignorance of the enemy and the realities of war with Satan!
David wrote as he did because he was beset by ‘bloody men’, that is, ‘bloodthirsty men, guilty of blood shedding’. “Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men,” verse 19. Those who come into such close contact with the enemy see them for what they are and speak of them accordingly!
In the verse 20, David refers to their blasphemies. “For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.” There was a time when the Christian people of the United Kingdom recognised Rome for what she is. This is clearly evidenced in the Creeds and Confessions of historic Protestantism. One of the most concise and Biblical is that of the statements within the 39 Articles of Religion drawn up by the English Reformers of the 16th century.
“The Roman doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, worshipping, and adoration (both of images and of relics), and the invocation of saints is a futile thing foolishly conceived and grounded on no evidence of Scripture. On the contrary this teaching is repugnant to the Word of God.”
28. Of the Lord’s Supper
“The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the mutual love that Christians ought to have among themselves. Rather, it is a sacrament of our redemption through Christ’s death. To those who rightly, worthily, and with faith receive it, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and similarly the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ. Transubstantiation (the change of the substance of the bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord cannot be proved from Holy Scripture, but is repugnant to the plain teaching of Scripture. It overthrows the nature of a sacrament and has given rise to many superstitions. The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper only in a heavenly and spiritual manner. The means by which the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is by faith. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not instituted by Christ to be reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.”
These are but two samples. More may be found in the Westminster Confession of Faith and other British creeds. However, British Christians are largely ignorant of the battles with the religion of darkness that our brave reforming forefathers engaged in, often unto death. Being ignorant today’s ‘Christians’ are ready to believe the current slanders of the enemy against them and the accusations of them being bigots and evil men.
They were no more such than was holy David when he uttered the words of our text.
I recall once, when in Canada, being asked, ‘Why do you hate Roman Catholics?’. The Lord instantly gave me a response. The man was Dutch and old enough to remember the times when his land was overrun by Nazi Germany. I asked him the question: ‘What did you think of the Germans who occupied your country in the Second World War? Before he could answer, a fellow Dutch Christian who was listening to the exchange, said: ‘The only good German was a dead German’!
I immediately got good and close to the man who asked me the question and said: ‘You will not hear a true believer in Ulster say that of the Roman Catholics in Ulster’.
I was able to press home the true state of affairs in our Province where a force more spiritually evil than Nazism was seeking to take over our land by lying propaganda, political chicanery and terrorist attacks.
That was some 40+ years ago. The truth of what I said is very much more evident today!
3. NOT UNTIL THE LORD RETURNS WILL ALL BELIEVERS UNDERSTAND THE HATEFUL CHARACTER OF THE WICKEDNESS OF MEN AND MANIFEST THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO IT
This is made clear for us in the day when “the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one,” Zechariah 14:9. It will be a day when the Holy Law of God shall be enforced and any that violate it will pay the ultimate price.
Consider these verses in Zechariah which deal with Christ’s rule amongst men on this earth during His Millennial Reign.
“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles,” Zechariah 14:16-19.
Non-attendance at the House of God at the divinely appointed time, namely on the Lord’s Day, is one of the most common sins amongst the nations. It is the cause of much distress amongst true believes that the nation has become virtually agnostic and atheistic. However, while we may protest and rightly complain and chide and pray about the matter, we can go no further. The Lord, Who could go much further, in His all-wise Providence, tolerates such wicked defiance.
But when the Lord returns and there is a restoring of a Theocracy, there will be changes! Refusal to keep “the feast of tabernacles” will be punished most severely. They will be smitten with drought and a plague.
We are told that: “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit,” James 5:17-18. Many professing believers would today be aghast at such prayers, considering them ‘unchristian’, unkind’, and ‘vindictive.’ No such attitude will exist amongst the redeemed in the Millennium! There will be a total compliance with the mind and will of God and carnal and earthly reasoning and fleshly sentimentality will not be allowed expression.
Today, the believer has to watch the wicked parading their sinfulness with pride, aided and supported by the State, the Police, the majority of businessmen and the mainline churches. In the Millennium the penalty for such a display would be death.
But we do not live in a Theocracy, where God’s Word is Law. We live in a day when the Lord requires us to be subject to ‘lawful’ authority. That does not mean that we do not express the feelings of outrage against the wickedness of men by word of mouth, by preaching and by actions that display our indignation, disgust and anger.
Many shrink from such displays in case it would hurt their standing and credibility amongst their neighbours and perhaps be detrimental to their business interests. They would go so far as to be critical of those who do voice and display their opposition.
No such sentiments will be found amongst God’s people when the Saviour returns. There will be solid acquiescence in the carrying out of God’s Law against sin.
I believe that there are times when we must demonstrate our outrage as did the Saviour on two occasions in the temple. “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,” Matthew 21:12.
“And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple,” Mark 11:15-16.
The account in Matthew’s gospel took place at the beginning of His ministry and Mark’s account is of the Saviour’s days before His crucifixion.
In both cases he did not physically harm any of the evil-doers, though He did lay hands upon them. In this He sets us an example. We cannot take life in the name of doing God’s service but we can seek to resist physically the blasphemous actions of the lawless. I have taken part in protests by which the meetings of the defiers and deniers of God were hindered and their plans thwarted and blocked. I have been jailed by the civil authorities for acting in this manner.
In the history of godly men, in their struggles against those who would take away their rights and liberties in the gospel, they have on occasions taken up arms against those who deemed themselves the lawful authority in the land. I believe it right to say that God honoured their stand!
In more recent times, our Ulster forefathers declared that if the British Government was going to force them, by use of the Army, under a Roman Catholic ‘Home Rule’ Dublin government, then they would arm themselves and fight the British Army to remain free.
Arm themselves they did but by the mercy of God, there were senior officers within the ranks of the British Army that resigned their commission in protest at London’s ‘Home Rule for Ireland’ plans and many regiments made plain they would not carry out orders, were they ordered to march on Ulster.
Who can doubt that this was an honouring of our forefathers’ courageous stand!
In living memory, I was one of the tens of thousands of Ulster men and women who signed the modern version of the ‘Ulster Covenant’ of 1912, whereby we declared ourselves ready to do as did our fathers since we were faced with a much more subtle sell-out of our Protestant heritage. That was just some forty years ago but sadly the ‘spirit’ of Lord Craigavon and Lord Carson, who led Ulster 100 years ago, was sadly lacking in the leadership in our day.
In the end there was total capitulation to the ecumenically led conspiracy to steal away our liberties and today we are under Sinn Fein rule!
Everywhere within the ranks of the Christian church today there is evidence of cowardice. Militant words, never mind militant actions are nowhere to be heard! Church Sessions tolerate sin and those in leadership twist and turn in their attempts to avoid taking any action against the violators of God’s Law within our ranks and engage in the most spineless and craven measures to see to it that no one else is allowed to act against the wrong-doing.
Communal spiritual suicide is being committed by church leaders today. “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help,” Hosea 13:9. Self-destruction is freely engaged in by those who frown upon, aye, and despise any who they consider might be too strident in their words and actions, aimed at destroying the works of the wicked men of today and saving the people of God from further backsliding.
As the day of Jeremiah’s witness ended in God’s judgment upon Judah for their sin, even as he said it would, so it is going to be with us here in Ulster and also with all who share in the spiritual complacency that is allowing sin to advance and infiltrate the ranks of the professing church, almost without check!
Without the Lord’s intervention amongst His people and the stirring again of the spirit of Phineas (Numbers 25:6-11) amongst them, then nothing but darkness lies ahead.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
6th September 2022