If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. (Psalm 139:19-22)
Wow. Right in the middle of this psalm celebrating the wonder of God’s love and care for me, I get called to a holy war. What’s that about? If you do a little study on this verse, you find that it echoes the ancient Near East covenant language between King and Vassal. The vassal swears that any enemy of the king will be his enemy.
Are you impressed with my scholarliosity? I love those study bible footnotes.
But God is a God of love, right? Aren’t we supposed to love everyone?
Show me where it says that in the Bible.
Well, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”
Oh yeah, he did…huh.
I’ll admit—this is a toughie. I’ll be happy to hear from any of you who have thoughts about this passage. It seems to me that, in light of the gospel, we should be pretty careful about hating people. There is plenty for us to hate—the ways of the world, the devil and his schemes, our own flesh—plenty that rises up against God. People seem pretty far down the list.
I think this passage is not so much a call to war as a call to total allegiance. You have a God who knows every thought you have ever entertained and loves you anyway. He surrounds you, literally, with his love and protection. Pledge your fealty to him again. Go forth into your Wednesday as the sworn enemy of all that stands against him.
Serve the king who loves you, Beloved.