As David thought about God’s intricate design of humanity in Psalm 139, and he pondered the Lord’s loyal love for each individual He took such care to fashion and endow with purpose, the king grew angry at the enemies of God. How ungrateful. How disloyal! How outrageous that they should rebel!

He seethed with righteous anger against the ungodly. David wanted to imitate God. He longed to be a godly man—perhaps more than any other king in the history of Israel—which may explain why he was called “a man after God’s own heart.” The term “hate” denotes a decision to reject something in favor of something else. Unlike the English word, it does not wish harm or ill will upon another; the Hebrew concept of “hate” involves a turning away. To hate someone in the Old Testament is to turn your back upon them.

The term translated “loathe,” however, is deeply emotional. It means “to be grieved, to feel revulsion.” David’s love for God is so great, he can barely stomach the thought of those who hate God. And, because he is aligned with the Lord, God’s enemies are necessarily his enemies. But rather than take matters into his own hands and destroy the enemies of God, he asks to be removed from them.

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This shouldn’t be taken as a bloodthirsty, brutal plea or a self-righteous, super-spiritual gesture. He was supremely interested in being God’s man, regardless. In his zeal for righteousness, he asked God’s help in protecting him from those who stood against the things he held dear. To David, a man of war, the only solution for God was to “slay the wicked!” He did not hesitate to request that of Him.

In Psalm 139:20, David lists two characteristics that identify God’s enemies:

  1. They speak against God (they are irreverent).
  2. They take His name in vain (they use profanity).

Isn’t it interesting that wicked people reveal their wickedness through their tongue? Irreverence and profanity are the trademarks of deep heart problems. Mark it down: a foul, irreverent tongue is the byproduct of a foul, irreverent heart.

Because David trusted God to protect him by slaying his enemies, he did not try to take matters into his own hands. And he never attempted to clean up the lives of God’s enemies. Both would be futile efforts. He left the final decision with his Lord—a very wise and biblical action to take, by the way.

  1. C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Volume 6: Psalms 120-150 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 265.

From Living the Psalms  by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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