Whom Did They Hate without Cause?

Today’s reading is Psalm 35.

Without cause, they hid a net to trap the psalmist. Without cause, they dug a pit for the psalmist to fall in. Why? Because without cause, they hated the psalmist. But who is it they really hate without cause?

John 15:25 explains they really hate Jesus without cause. Once again, while this psalm is about David, it is ultimately about Jesus.

Did you notice the connection to Psalm 22, a psalm everyone agrees is about Jesus because He quotes it on the cross? In Psalm 22:21-22, the big shift in the psalm happens. The speaker is saved from the mouth of the lion. Then He will praise God in the midst of the congregation. In Psalm 35:17, He asks to be rescued from the lions. In vs. 18, He promises to thank God in the congregation.

Psalm 35 is not a foretelling of the Messiah, of Jesus. However, when Jesus is falsely accused and the enemies put Him on trial, threatening His life, we say, “Hmmmm…that sounds kind of like a guy who would pray, ‘Contend for those who contend with me.'” When we hear about Jesus facing traps, false accusers, malicious witnesses, folks who rejoice at His death, we say, “I think I’ve read about something like this before.” When we hear about people testifying to the things they saw from Jesus, but they are lies, we think about those who cry, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!” And, of course, did you read what I shared with your kids yesterday? When we hear specifically about a Jesus whose bones were unbroken, we can’t help but come back to this psalm and the previous to read of one whose bones are unbroken (Psalm 34:20) and those same bones rejoice (Psalm 35:9-10). When we witness Jesus praying three times in Gethsemane, we are reminded of the triple prayer of request for deliverance in Psalm 35.

As with other psalms, the point is not so much reading a foretelling prophecy and seeing its fulfillment in Jesus as if it is proof that Jesus really is the Messiah. Rather, its about recognizing that Jesus did more than fulfill foretelling prophecies. Rather, He reiterated David. He reiterated Israel. He fulfilled the entire Old Testament story, walking in the footsteps of so many of God’s servants, but doing so perfectly and without mistake.

After all, as we say again and again, David can only claim that there was no cause to hate him in a modified sense. For instance, I think Ahithophel had all kind of cause to hate David (see 2 Samuel 11:3; 23:34). But there was absolutely no reason to hate Jesus. Even Pilate knew he was innocent.

The psalm divides the world into two groups: those who deny the righteousness of Jesus and those who delight in the righteousness of Jesus. Let us be those who delight in it. Let us be those who shout for joy and are glad that the Lord delighted in the welfare of Jesus, His Servant, and delivered His soul from the grave.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 36.

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Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

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The Lord Loves the Upright

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

Obviously, in an absolute sense, the Lord loves everybody. So it bothers us to hear He loves the righteous. Further, it really bothers us to hear that God hates the wicked. To us, that just doesn’t sound like God at all. However, in this psalm the use of hate is not to be take an as absolute, but as a relative. It’s like Luke 14:26, in which Luke records Jesus as saying we are supposed to hate our family. However, in Matthew 10:37, the same scenario is recorded as Jesus saying we must not love our family more than Jesus. Luke’s record of that event is not saying we are to absolutely hate our family. Rather, our love for Jesus is to be so great compared to our feelings for our family that what we feel for our parents, siblings, and even spouse looks like hate. In Psalm 11, the “hate” of God is not that He simply and absolutely hates wicked people. He actually loves them. He loves them so much He sent Jesus to die for them. He loves them so much He offered up a propitiation for them. But those who reject the sacrifice of Jesus, pursuing and persisting in guilt will be judged. That is what is meant by God’s hate in this psalm. He is righteous. He loves uprightness. That is, He blesses and rewards it. He loves the upright. That is, He blesses and rewards those who find uprightness in Him through Jesus. But He hates wickedness. That is, He judges, condemns, and punishes it. He hates the wicked. That is, He judges, condemns, and punishes the wicked. This is one of the foundations that has not been destroyed. As we learned earlier in the week, it would be silly for David, or anyone, to pursue and persist in wicked behavior because it is a foundation that God hates the wicked and loves the upright. That is, it is a foundation that God judges, condemns, and punishes the wicked and blesses and rewards the upright. Therefore, David will not abandon this foundation. We had better not either.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 12.

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The Lord is Righteous

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

The third foundation David will not abandon and that has not been destroyed is the righteousness of God. That righteousness is demonstrated by God living according to His name. His name declares that He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, abounding in faithfulness, and forgiving. However, it also declares that He will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:6-7). Those who abandon God’s moral principles, pursuing and persisting in guilt will be judged. God’s righteousness is not primarily a declaration that God is always right. Rather, it is a declaration that God always lives according to His name. It would be folly for David to abandon God while he is living in the crucible of God’s testing. Why? Because He will always live according to His name. Everyone who abandons God, turns away from Him, pursues and persists in guilt, gets judged. Every single one. There are no exceptions, not even for David, King of Israel. God will rain down coals of fire and send scorching winds upon the one who loves and persists in violence. This means two things for David. First, the people who are pursuing violence toward him may appear to be getting away with it for now, but David knows in the end, the righteous God always judges those who love violence. Second, he wants no part of their sin. He doesn’t want to respond to them in like manner because he is no exception to God’s righteousness. It’s a foundation. God is righteous. And that is exactly the way we want Him to be.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 11.

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If Your Brother Sins, Rebuke Him

Today’s reading is Luke 17.

If your brother sins, rebuke him. The command is not to hate him, yell at him, hold a grudge against him, be mean to him, hurt him, get in his face, be angry with him, badmouth him, slander him, ignore him, give him the cold shoulder. The command is to rebuke him. As Jesus rebuked the wind and the storm charging them to stop and rebuked demons charging them to leave people, when we rebuke someone we are charging them to change their behavior. Rebuking someone is not venting my hurt feelings, expressing my anger, blowing my stack. Rebuking someone is not yelling at them, hitting them, or even punishing them. Rebuking someone is instructing them to change their behavior, that is, to repent. Why would we do that? Because we love them. Because we know their sins separate them from God and from us. Because we don’t want them to perish in sin anymore than God wants that (see Ezekiel 18:20, 32). Most people don’t rebuke. They either vent their feelings or ignore the situation not wanting to rock the boat. It takes someone who truly loves to offer a sincere, true rebuke intended to bring someone to soul-saving repentance. Will you love those who sin that much?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 17.

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Reviled

Today’s reading is Luke 6.

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven for so their fathers did to the prophets.”

Please note, Jesus doesn’t say someone is blessed merely because they have been excluded or hated or spurned. We are blessed when the reason we are hated, excluded, or spurned as evil is our support of Jesus Christ and His will. This passage does not teach the modern concept of cultural inclusivity. In fact, what it does teach about goes right along with the fact that the one thing our modern culture is not willing to include is faithfulness to Jesus. We will be excluded. We will be hated. We will be spurned as evil. Don’t be surprised when it happens. And definitely, don’t abandon Jesus because it happens. If you are standing with Jesus, count yourself blessed when people hate you for it. And always stand with Jesus.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 6.

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Hate is No Surprise

Today’s reading is John 15.

It is surprising to me how many times throughout the Scripture the Holy Spirit prepares us for hate. Considering how good, loving, compassionate, and kind Jesus was, it is amazing that He was hated. But He was. In fact, so hated, He was taken to the cross. This was the very point those around Him didn’t grasp. If He was the Messiah, even if hated, He shouldn’t suffer for it. And this is, perhaps, one of the largest aspects of following Him that we miss today. If we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we heedlessly believe, everyone should like us. The world and the worldly will be so impressed with our Christlike love and compassion that they will long to hear what we say (if we are doing it right). The world shouldn’t hate us, we think. If they do, we are doing it wrong, we believe. And yet, Jesus prepares His followers again and again and again. It will not be different for us. Hate is no surprise. The world is going to hate us. The world is going to make us suffer for it. Obviously, we aren’t trying to be hated. But be ready. And be ready to keep loving one another and also loving those who hate us. That is what Jesus did when hated.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 16.

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Love the Light Enough to Be Saved

Today’s reading is John 3.

Here is the amazing thing. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn anyone. He came to save everyone. The problem is many people do not want to be saved. Some don’t want to believe they need saving. They want to believe they are pretty good people. Some people don’t want to believe their actions and behaviors are sinful and damning. Some people want salvation, but not from Jesus. Jesus shined the light on salvation, but that light exposes sin, wickedness, and evil, demanding it be forsaken. Those who love their deeds more than Jesus, don’t love the light enough to be saved. They would rather linger in the darkness. We must continue to reflect Jesus’s light of salvation. But be ready. Those who don’t love the light will refuse to be saved, and they will try to put out the light. Don’t give up. Keep shining. The Light has already won.

Tomorrow’s reading is John 4.

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Don’t Be Shocked

Today’s reading is Mark 13.

I know there is a lot of debate regarding the specific application of Mark 13. Is it all about the destruction of Jerusalem? All about the end of the world? A little of both? We don’t have space to tackle those debates. But one thing I do notice is how shocking some of this is to many of our tacit beliefs about being disciples. Don’t be shocked when you are a faithful disciple and people hate you. Don’t be shocked when you are a faithful disciple and your children grow up against you. Don’t be shocked when you are a faithful disciple and life is hard. I’m not saying you should plan on these things. Just don’t be shocked like these things never happen to faithful disciples. They do. What should you do in the face of them? Continue being a faithful disciple.

Tomorrow’s reading is Mark 14.

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Everywhere Spoken Against

Today’s reading is Acts 28.

I certainly know our goal is not to get people to speak against us. I know we don’t want to conduct ourselves in such a way that people hate and despise us because of our attitude or treatment of them. Yet, at the same time, I can’t help but notice when the early Christians and churches did what was right when it came to disciple making, they weren’t lauded by the world. They weren’t lifted up and asked to stay. They were spoken against everywhere. While we shouldn’t conduct our disciple making with goal of being spoken against, we must not make the opposite mistake. That is, we must not make the goal of our disciple making keeping people from speaking against us. Let’s just speak for the Lord and let people respond how they will. Only then will God be glorified.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 1.

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