Bluntness is a quality that at times can be so refreshing and at other times so uncomfortable. Many of us appreciate when someone will “just tell it how it is.” However, we all can recall those times when we’ve thought “I can’t believe she just said that.” Being direct in speech is considered a virtue: “Let your ‘yea’ be yea and your ‘nay’ be nay. It is especially important when confronting a problem.
In Psalm 97:10, God gets right to the heart of what He wants from His people. “You who love the Lord, hate evil!” This is a very direct and concise command. As believers, we must hate evil at all times and in every form. God says that there are no two ways about it. If we love God then we must hate evil.
Why is it necessary to hate evil? Well, the passage continues by telling us that God has saved us and spared us from the eternal rewards of evil. “He preserves the souls of His saints.” God also continues to rescue us from the power of evil people and forces seeking to destroy our lives. “He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.” How can we love the very things that were sending us to hell? Why would we ever direct anything other than hatred towards that which cost Jesus so much on the cross?
When we do hate evil we get to reap the rewards of God’s blessings. God’s blessings can only be found and experienced on God’s paths, and God’s paths never will lead us to what God hates—evil. Verse 11 says “Light is sown for the righteous.” If we want God’s light to direct us and warm us, then we must be righteous. We know that we can only be righteous through trusting in Jesus for salvation, but we also know that righteous people are characterized by hating evil.
The other reward that comes from hating evil is joy. “And gladness [is sown] for the upright in heart.” Joy is that mysterious fullness of soul for which all humanity longs and seeks. Our passage tells us that God plants that joy/gladness in us when we are upright in heart. Once again, we must consider that we cannot be upright in heart unless we hate evil. When we live God’s way, God gives us joy that the Bible calls indescribable and full of glory.
The Psalm finishes with the result of obedience: a life lived for God’s glory. “Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.” We can only fulfill our ultimate doxological (God’s glory) purpose by having a heart that loves what God loves and that hates what God hates—evil.
You who love the Lord, hate evil!
He preserves the souls of His saints;
He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous,
And gladness for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.