More on Imprecatory Psalms

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I need to do more on what I have started yesterday on Imprecatory Psalms. Stating what they are and what they may imply isn't enough. I have yet to go into what it means for us.

While working it out yesterday, this statement came to mind: God hates the sin but loves the sinner. I remember reading somewhere that this, though very much used and quoted, is an evangelical cliché that must be rejected. As my recent biblical "flair" would have it (the fact that whatever I needed lately seems to just come without much of a searching), I found it in reading Carson's Basics for Believer.

    God hates the sin but loves the sinner. The second part may be true but this antithesis is fundamentally mistaken, and is clearly refuted by Scripture. Fourteen times in the first fifty psalms alone, the texts insist that God 'hates' sinners, 'abhors' those who tell lies, and so forth.

    But the glorious truth about God is that although he is angry with us, in his very character he is a God of love. Despite his anger as he perceives our anarchy, anger that is a necessary function of his holiness, God is a loving God, and so he provides a means of forgiving sins that will leave the integrity of his glory unsullied.
Hence, the cross.

So in these imprecatory psalms, the psalmist is dealing with the abhorrence of God with the wicked, plain and simple. God will deal with the wicked in his own way. He gave us his Son as a propitiation of our sins. To us who receives him, we are expiated and for those who do not turn away from their wicked ways, they would have God judgement upon them. And Calvin reminded me yesterday evening of Jonah's account - that of the worm and the plant - which shows us the grace and mercy of God to forgive those who repent before him.

One more thought: about loving our enemies. I feel that loving our enemies is one tough thing to do. Because first of all, we need to do one fundamental thing - understand what it means exactly to love an enemy. I have read Carson's Love in the Hard Places (yup, him again!) some time ago, which is a tough read. Can't really remember much of it off hand, but what I learnt is that loving an enemy isn't as simple as it sounds. To love an enemy may be at the expense of the innocent. How can we reconcile that?

Looks like I will need to hit the books again on this one.

Picture of an eucalyptus bark by Cris Watk

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15 comment(s)

  1. Another very cool picture. :-)

    I am enjoying your thoughts on this scary subject. I used to be terrified when my mom would get mad at my sister. I was not in trouble, but to be so near so much power striking like lightning is just frightening.

    When I last looked at this, I came up with something that surprised me. John tells us in the Revelation that God wishes we were hot or cold, but because we are lukewarm He will spew us from His mouth.

    Even so, God loves and hates the sinner.

    God truly loves and truly hates the same sinner, but He never, ever feels lukewarm toward him. It was a new thought to me. I don't know whether it's right, but it seems to make sense of the scriptures for me.

  2. CP,
    God truly loves and truly hates the same sinner, but He never, ever feels lukewarm toward him.

    Hmmm ... i never thought of it that way. To me, the thought of being lukewarm is always on the person, not God. But in a way, you have something there, because God is never lukewarm. He can never be - He is both a God of love and a God of wrath. There is nothing lukewarm about love and wrath.

  3. Not only are we to love the enemy we must like them. I’m working on that because I can love mankind but to really like them. I fall short on this one. I can love the women who spewed hate at my church because I knew of the good in them I just have trouble liking them.

  4. Maeghan,

    This really gives me something to ponder here. My take is that God hates a sinning/rebelious attitdue. When Israel adopted this, God's judgement ensued.

    So does God hate the sinner? Well it is true that God will not coexist with sin. Sin drives away His presence, and hence is covering of protection. I would be interested to see the root for 'abhor' in these psalms. My bet is that it would be more closely translated to finds repulsive. Like two positively charged magnet. The spirit of rebellion/sin is repulsive to God.

    So does God hate the sin, but not the sinner? I'm with you, that is not accurate or the correct question: Does God reside with a sinful nature? Here is where the duty of the Holy Spirit comes into the equation. Throuf the Holy Spirit, we are quickened to remove sin from our life... not just the act of sin, but the sinning attitude. Our soul is cleaned complete though the cleansing of Christ, and now is at odds with the sinful nature that resides in us.

    As usual, thanks for the cool thoughts.

    God Bless

  5. Milly,
    Yes that is one thing I need to further read, think and work out. I am not sure I can like or even need to like someone to love them. We need to know what does "loving enemies" mean. I will post on it further when I have something.

  6. Doug,
    So does God hate the sinner?

    I think it boils down to - what is "hate" - as much as what I said to Milly earlier - what is "love". Hate, when used for God, is not an emotion state as we see/use it, but a state of fact that he, like you said, cannot exist with sin or even sinners (which is why Christ died as a propitiation).

    Thanks for bringing in the Holy Spirit. He is the one sent after Christ to help us focus our lives aright in Christ - like you said it, we are quickened to remove sin from our lives. Amen to that.

  7. Maeghan,

    To me hate is is the absence of love just like cold is really the absence of heat.

    With teperature, you can reach a point where there is no heat present. This point is called absolute zero, but the top of the heat scale is infinity.

    I look at God's love in the same fashion. Hatred, is the absence of his love.

    God Bless

  8. Doug,
    If hate is the absence of love, then what is wrath? As much as we are not to interpret God's hate with our own limited and imperfect emotions, I think God's hate has its emotions too. So does hate mean just no love?


  9. Maeghan,

    Wrath literally means punishment. To be able to impune, you must be able to judge. Only God is in a position to judge man/mankinf. So God's 'wrath' is him imparting judgement. Hate and wrath are related only when it men dabble in what is God's rightful position.

    Wrath by man is subject to revenge, and retribution. Remember where it says that 'vengence is Mine'? God's vengence is judgement: we have been measured and come up short and here is the consequence of this.

    Remember the scriptures about how darkness can't coexist with light? Darkness is also defined as an absence of light.

    It is therefore my belief that hate is defined as an absence of love.

    God Bless

  10. I appreciate all the discussion here. I still hold that hate is an active emotion, and that God hates actively.

    Am 5:21
    I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
    Am 6:8
    The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.
    Isa 1:14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
    Jer 44:4 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.

  11. CP,

    All this to say that God abhors things: be it sin, a sinning nature, or a pagen feast.

    God has no love for rebellion and/or defiance. The absence of love is hate: voila! We can come to an even footing.

    God Bless

  12. I am with CP. I am still not so convinced about it being just an absence of love. But then again, an absence of love to us is indifference. But I can safely say that God is never indifferent. So, we are on equal footing, eh? ;)

  13. Milly,
    I think I am being too ambitious in wanting to just take a read and comment further on "loving our enemies". I would definitely have to take more time and may even occupy several posts. So, later then.


  14. You know, Maeghan's comment put it in perspective for me.

    Indifference, not hate, really is the opposite of love. I have dealt with people who hated me, and with people who were indiferent to me. It's a different thing (as opposed to indifferent :-P). Hate can be turned into love, but indifference is forever.

    I'll stick with my statement. God hates, but is never indifferent.

  15. indifference is forever

    Not really ... I feel indifference can also be turned into love. It is not lost.

    Thanks for sharing all your thoughts ;) I enjoyed the discussion.