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?
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.