Does God Hate Some People?

I  had someone ask me this question recently. Their question took me by surprise because this is not a question I often receive. I thanked them for their question, and asked what prompted them to consider that. This individual referenced Psalm 5:5, which says, “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes, you hate all evildoers.” There was and is no avoiding the truth that God hates evildoers because it says so there in the verse. However, what I began to share with that individual is what I would like to share with you, at least in part, today.

Before we dive into the passage from Psalm 5, let me first begin with an illustration that might be helpful as we unpack this great chapter. Suppose that you were a parent who corrected your child when he or she needed correcting. If someone were to come into your house at the exact moment you were correcting your child, left as soon as you were finished correcting them, and never stepped foot in your house again, there is a high probability that this individual would conclude things about you that may not be true. They may conclude that you are an unforgiving parent who shows no grace toward your children or perhaps that you are too strict or short-tempered. They may even conclude the worst; that you, in fact, hate your children. These conclusions, then, would somehow need to be confirmed. What is needed for this person to confirm or dispel these conclusions or assumptions is context.  

Context is simply the circumstances that form the setting of an event. One would need to know more about the circumstances that led to the correction. How many warnings did the child receive beforehand? How many times had the child been told and taught about this particular behavior? Has the parent proven to be consistent with correction? Knowing the context would be extremely important in understanding the dynamics within the parent/child relationship. Once the context is established, then conclusions can be drawn, but not before then.

It’s the same way when we come to a verse or a passage of Scripture. We must understand the context if we are to have any hope in understanding what God is teaching us about Him, ourselves, others, and the world.

Psalm 5:5 states “The boastful shall not stand before your(God’s) eyes; you(God) hate all evildoers.” On the surface it does appear that God does or will hate some people. Yet, if we are going to be good students of the Bible, we must understand the verse in its context, and its connection with the rest of Scripture.

First off, let’s look at the context of the verse. It is one verse among 11 other verses. King David is writing a hymn of praise to God to be sung by the people of God. David depicts God as one who hears the cries of His people(vs. 3), loves them(vs. 7), and covers them with His favor like a shield(vs. 12). So first and foremost, this is a psalm that seeks to praise God for who He is and what He does.

Secondly, David distinguishes between the people of God who He loves and protects, and the people whom He hates. Now, it should be noted that the Hebrew word saneta which is translated as “hate” in our English translations of Scripture can also be translated as “scorn”, “slight”, or “be an enemy of.” The goal here is not to lessen the weight of the word “hate” used in verse 5. Yet, it is crucial to understand what the original text means so that more weight or importance is not given to certain words over others.

For example, If one takes the part of the verse which states “You hate all evil doers” out of its context, its meaning gets distorted. However, if one looks at the beginning of verse 5, the intent of the writer is revealed. “The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes.” David pictures here the final judgment of all mankind. On that future day, everyone will stand before God and give an account of himself or herself(See Rev. 20:11-15). What David teaches here is that those who have refused to have anything to do with God, and have lived their lives however they chose, will one day face God and be cast out of His sight. They will be scorned or slighted or hated by God forever. What they were in this life, due to their own choices and their rebellion of God, they will be for all of eternity - enemies of God.

So to say that God hates some people is true, but not in the sense that He hates them now, or has always hated them. He loves everyone He has ever created(Psalm 145:9). He desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth(1 Timothy 2:4). He desires none to perish but all to come to repentance(2 Peter 3:9). This is God’s heart, for all people, right now. He longs for them to repent and trust in Jesus.

How do we know that He loves them? The cross of Jesus. God desires for those who are currently enemies of His, because of their sin, to become those who will be able to stand on the day of judgment. The only provision He has made for that is through trusting in Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is then and only then that they are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and no longer enemies of God, but His sons and daughters.

So what are we to do now for those who are currently enemies of God due to their sin? We love them because God loves them. We pray for them. We pray that they will turn from their way of life and turn to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We share the gospel and we live out the gospel amongst a lost and dying world. We also long for the day that David speaks of here in this Psalm. The day when God will rid the world of evil and every enemy of His, and establish a new heaven and a new earth. On that day and the eternity to follow, all Christians, along with David, will sing for joy(vs.11) of the greatness of our God and for all He has done for His children.

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