When I was a little girl, whenever I said I “hated” something, my mother always corrected me, “Hate is a very strong word! Never say you ‘hate’ anything without stopping to think first!” I must confess that her words left a strong impression on me. It didn’t take me long to stop using the word “hate”, and now, decades later, I still think hard before using strong words like “hate” and “love”. We can use the word “love” so much that it loses its meaning. When we say we love hamburgers or chocolate or iced caramel macchiotos, it takes away from the meaning when we say we love our spouse, our family, or God. Telling someone we hate them in a fit of anger can damage psyches and relationships. It is good to reserve these powerful words for appropriate occasions, as the writer of Psalm 119 has done. He uses both of these powerful words in this 15th stanza.
So far in the Psalm 119, the psalmist has used the word “hate” once, in verse 104, “I hate every false way,” and he has reserved the word “love” to refer only to God’s Word (verses 47, 48, and 97). In the stanza we are looking at this week, he uses both “hate” and “love” to refer to the “double minded”, and to God’s Word (Your law) respectively (119:113).
113 I hate the double-minded,
But I love Your law.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers,
For I will keep the commandments of my God!
116 Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
117 Hold me up, and I shall be safe,
And I shall observe Your statutes continually.
118 You reject all those who stray from Your statutes,
For their deceit is falsehood.
119 You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross;
Therefore I love Your testimonies.
120 My flesh trembles for fear of You,
And I am afraid of Your judgments.
So who are the double-minded? According to James 1:6-8, a double-minded person is one who doubts God. He is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. He is unstable in all his ways and therefore should not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. In 4:8, James refers to the double-minded as those who need to purify their hearts. So when the psalmist refers to the double-minded, he has in mind those whose hearts are not fully God’s. They lack a passion for the Word and are easily swayed by the ways of the world. They can definitely be included in the false way (119:104), the psalmist also hates.
The psalmist hates the double-minded because he loves God’s law. That’s where his hope is (119:114) and where his life is centered (119:116). It is God’s Word that upholds him and keeps him safe (119:117). Furthermore, God rejects the double-minded because they stray from His Word (His statutes, 119:118, 119), they are deceitful, full of falsehood, and hinder others from keeping God’s commandments (119:115). The psalmist is determined to cling to and obey God’s word and he hates all who want to distract him from the hope and security he has found there. He takes refuge in God’s law. It is his hiding place and his shield (119:115) in both physical and spiritual struggles. He knows that reliance upon himself or worldly ways is disaster and this instills in him a profound respect for God and a healthy fear of His judgments (119:20).
The psalmist has used strong words to describe his passion for God’s word and his passion against those who have no real love or respect for it. He has not chosen his words lightly but has used words that express his determination to stand for God and live by His word. The psalmist expressed a righteous anger against those who would sway him away from his commitment to God. He had a legitimate fear of losing all he held dear -- the hope, strength, and safety which he found in the word of God. He knew he had to take a stand and he did so boldly.
So where do you stand? Are you among the double-minded who are unstable in all their ways? Do you waver, sometimes looking to God’s Word with a heart eager to obey but sometimes ignoring God and following the easy or most popular path? Will you examine your heart and then take a stand with the psalmist upon the Word of God? As I write this, I’m reminded of the song we used to sing in Sunday School:
Yes, that’s the Book for me.
I stand alone on the Word of God,
That song is easy to sing as children, but not so easy to follow through on as adults in an increasingly secular society. But we can stand together and be strong. Will you stand with me on the B-I-B-L-E?
In Acts 26:18, the Lord Jesus spoke to Saul (later known as the apostle Paul) sending him to witness to those who did not know Him, “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
Before our eyes are opened and we turn to Christ by faith, we all walk in darkness. I think most of us are aware of the darkness all around us. We can see it in the immorality of the world, the greed and hatred that dwells in the hearts of some people, the insensitivity and cruelty of some toward their fellow man, and the results of sin in our fallen world. The good news is that when God opens our eyes and sanctifies us by faith, He gives us a light to guide us through the darkness -- His Word. The psalmist expresses his love and commitment to that light in this portion of Psalm 119.
105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to observe your righteous ordinances.
107 I am cruelly afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word.
108 Accept my offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your ordinances.
109 I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
111 Your decrees are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes;
forever, to the end.
The psalmist shows us that as Christians there is no need for us to stumble in the darkness. God has given us His word as a lamp to light the path as we sojourn in this dark world. We see in this passage that the psalmist has tested this light and found it true and reliable. He makes six important points to show the power of God’s word as a lamp to illumine our path.
Have you tried leaning on God’s Word as you walk through the darkness of this world? When you’re anxious, do you go to the light of His Word to quiet your heart? When you’re grieving or depressed, do you go to the light for support? When you’re afraid, do you take refuge in the light? When you’re tempted, do you find your encouragement in the light? When friends forsake you, do you turn to the light? When times are darkest, do you remember to go to God’s Word? Do you turn to the light? As a believer, the Word of God is your heritage,it is a reward that never fails, and it should be the joy of your heart. When was the last time you sat down and read it, cherished it, and then went out and obeyed it? Will you encourage yourself to walk in the light of God’s Word by taking time today to taste the joy the psalmist wrote about in this passage of Psalm 119?
In one of his sermons, Charles Haddon Spurgeon gave the following encouragement to constantly let the Word of God light your way.
“Let us live constantly in the presence of the Lord, and it will breed in our hearts a restfulness such as nothing else can. The Holy Spirit acts as a Comforter through the Word with influences which calm the tempests of the soul.
Nothing is a stumbling block to the man who has the Word of God dwelling in him richly. He takes up his daily cross, and it becomes a delight. He is prepared for the fiery trial and does not count it not strange, so as to be utterly cast down by it. He is neither stumbled by prosperity — as so many are — nor crushed by adversity — as others have been — for he lives beyond the changing circumstances of external life.”
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.