I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
Devotion to God.
Affirming his devotion, David hates anyone who rebels against the Lord. Sane, the original Hebrew word for hatred, means “to hate, be an enemy, to be unloved, be shunned, be an adversary, can be active, as an enemy or adversary; or passive, as someone unloved or shunned.” [i]David uses an active form of the word, counting them enemies and shunning those who rebel against God.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary gives us greater insight into the word hatred:
“HA’TRED, noun Great dislike or aversion; hate; enmity. Hatred is an aversion to evil and may spring from utter disapprobation, as the hatred of vice or meanness; or it may spring from offenses or injuries done by fellow men, or from envy or jealousy, in which case it is usually accompanied with malevolence or malignity. Extreme hatred is abhorrence or detestation.” [ii]
The Psalmist expresses his aversion to evil and disapproval of sin. The people David refers to sin against the Lord, not necessarily him, which evokes strong emotion. After all the Lord did and does for him, David can’t stand people who despise God. Detesting the actions of those who rebel against his Maker, David expresses his distaste.
Sadness comes from my heart for those who turn their back on the Lord. Without God, you can’t live life to the fullest. Deception rules their soul, and they miss out on divine blessings.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:7-9
Sowing corruption reaps corruption. Sowing peace reaps peace. The Lord knows the hearts and minds of all; no one hides from Him. When I meet someone with a rebellious heart towards God, I pray for them, asking the Lord to soften their hearts and turn them towards Him. The Lord doesn’t want anyone to perish.
Recently, I joined the prayer team of an international organization I support. At our first meeting, one praise report brought tears to my eyes. A pastor praying for a Muslim man with skin cancer felt encouraged by the Holy Spirit.
“Will you place your faith in Christ when He heals you?”
“Yeah, but Jesus ain’t gonna heal me.”
Boldly, the pastor began to pray, and the cancerous spots started to shrink as he did. By the time he finished praying, God had healed the man, who became a believer. The prayers of a righteous man have much power.
Pray for those who openly hate God. Ask the Lord to soften their hearts and turn them towards Him. Have faith that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, and ask Him to do what only He can do.
David’s hatred of people who sin against God has validity. But without love, we can’t overcome hate. Feeling empathy for people who turn against the Lord, living in rebellion, helps us pray for them. Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” [iii] Lincoln lived out his belief by making his political opponents his cabinet when he became President, and by doing so, he helped heal a nation.
Praying for people who actively turn against the Lord helps them begin reconciling with God. Asking the Lord to soften their hearts, giving them ears to hear and eyes to see His mighty works, helps them begin the journey of salvation through Christ. Only God can change hearts, and in Him, we must trust.
Hate becomes love when we apply Christ’s teachings and pray for those who don’t know the Lord.
- What feelings do those who hate God evoke in you?
- How can you pray for non-believers in your life today?
- When has God changed someone’s heart in your life?
Lord, thank You for loving us. Please soften the hearts of non-believers, giving them eyes to see and ears to hear Your mighty works. Change their hearts and minds as they begin to experience You. IJNIP. Amen