19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.[b]
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 complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
I think we’ve all wished that God would slay the wicked. But, growing up, I was told I shouldn’t ever hate anyone. No matter how badly behaved they were, even if they were my enemies, they were God’s creation. In fact, hate was practically a bad word in our house. You shouldn’t “hate anchovies”, just “dislike the saltiness of anchovies”. You don’t “hate algebra”, you just “find algebra really difficult”. And you never, ever shout “I hate you” during an argument. Nope. Uh-uh. That’ll get you sent to your room.
So, these verses got me wondering: was I taught correctly? God clearly tells us, in both OT and NT, to love our brother (neighbor, family, church member):
Leviticus 19:17-18 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
1 John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
Is there ever a time when it is OK to hate? I found many verses where it says that God hates evil, or hates the wicked. But that’s not the same thing as saying it is OK for US to hate. Let’s consider these verses:
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
Psalm 97:10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 45:7 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions…
Revelation 2:6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Are these verses saying it is OK to hate someone? Not exactly. If you pay close attention, you’ll see that it is the evil that you are to hate. The wickedness, the works of the bad people. This kind of hate is about Godly justice. It’s what some people would call righteous indignation. I can’t say enough: it is not about the people, but about the evil or wicked works they do.
I’d also like to point something else out: these are just a few verses compared to the majority of the Bible, which focuses on love. In fact, none of these verses about hate are the words of Jesus or his disciples. (The verse from Revelations is about the church in Ephesus.) When Jesus walked the earth, He concentrated His teachings on LOVE. There are FAR more verses about loving people, helping people, healing people, and leading people to God. He certainly got angry at some people, and He said some really not nice things about the Pharisees, but I can’t find anywhere were He said “I hate you”. Galatians 5 doesn’t list hate among the fruits of the Spirit. Philippians 4:8 doesn’t list hate among the things we’re supposed to think about. There is no commandment to hate, but there is one to love:
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Or how about these words of Jesus:
Matthew 5:43-48 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
So, don’t get caught up on these verses about hate. Don’t get caught up in hate at all. Follow the commandment of Christ, and focus on Love Not Hate.