As David thought about God's intricate design of humanity in Psalm 139, and he pondered the Lord's loyal love for each individual He took such care to fashion and endow with purpose, the king grew angry at the enemies of God. How ungrateful. How disloyal! How outrageous that they should rebel!
He seethed with righteous anger against the ungodly. David wanted to imitate God. He longed to be a godly man—perhaps more than any other king in the history of Israel—which may explain why he was called "a man after God's own heart." The term "hate" denotes a decision to reject something in favor of something else. Unlike the English word, it does not wish harm or ill will upon another; the Hebrew concept of "hate" involves a turning away. To hate someone in the Old Testament is to turn your back upon them.
The term translated "loathe," however, is deeply emotional. It means "to be grieved, to feel revulsion." David's love for God is so great, he can barely stomach the thought of those who hate God. And, because he is aligned with the Lord, God's enemies are necessarily his enemies. But rather than take matters into his own hands and destroy the enemies of God, he asks to be removed from them.
This shouldn't be taken as a bloodthirsty, brutal plea or a self-righteous, super-spiritual gesture. He was supremely interested in being God's man, regardless. In his zeal for righteousness, he asked God's help in protecting him from those who stood against the things he held dear. To David, a man of war, the only solution for God was to "slay the wicked!" He did not hesitate to request that of Him.
Charles Spurgeon wrote, "Godless men are not the stuff out of which true friends can ever be made."1 True words! While I am not encouraging our isolating ourselves from all lost people, I am saying that a close companionship with haters of God will take a damaging toll on our spiritual life. The virus of the degenerate heart is dangerously contagious, and you cannot spend much time near those who have it without eventually suffering from the same disease. This is as true for the teenager who wants popularity at any cost as it is for the businessman who prostitutes his convictions for an extra buck. Spiritual compromise is a deadly problem! "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company corrupts good morals'" (1 Corinthians 15:33).
In Psalm 139:20, David lists two characteristics that identify God's enemies:
Isn't it interesting that wicked people reveal their wickedness through their tongue? Irreverence and profanity are the trademarks of deep heart problems. Mark it down: a foul, irreverent tongue is the byproduct of a foul, irreverent heart.
Because David trusted God to protect him by slaying his enemies, he did not try to take matters into his own hands. And he never attempted to clean up the lives of God's enemies. Both would be futile efforts. He left the final decision with his Lord—a very wise and biblical action to take, by the way.
From Living the Psalms by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
In Embraced by the Spirit, we step away from the heat of theological battle that analyzes and criticizes and move quietly and closely to the One who has been sent alongside to help.