This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 119:113-120

SAMEKH - Evil vs. the Good

(113) I hate the double-minded, but I love your law (Torah). (114) You are my refuge and my shield. I hope in your word. (115) Depart from me, evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God. (116) Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live. Do not let my hopes be crushed. (117) Uphold me, and I will be delivered. I will always esteem your decrees. (118) You toss aside all who stray from your decrees, for their deceitfulness is useless. (119) You remove as dross all the wicked of the earth. Therefore, I love your statutes. (120) My flesh crawls in dread of you. I fear your judgments.

The first verse holds the key to understanding the theme of this stanza, the contrast between the double-minded whom the psalmist despises and those who, like the psalmist, have a single-minded devotion to God’s law. In four verses of the stanza, God’s enemies are described in five ways: “double-minded” (vs. 113), “evildoers” (vs. 115), “all who stray from your decrees” (vs. 118), “deceitful” (vs. 118), and “the wicked of the earth” (vs. 119). In contrast, the lovers of God’s Word (vs. 113) are portrayed as those who find “refuge” in him (vs. 114), who are “sustained” (vs. 116), “upheld” by him (vs. 117), and who “fear” him (vs. 120).

One other feature to note is the psalmist’s passion. Again, the first verse of the stanza where the psalmist’s hatred for evil men is juxtaposed with his love for God’s Word sets the tone for the rest of this segment. Phrases like “depart from me, evildoers” (vs. 115), “do not let my hopes be crushed” (vs. 116), “I will always esteem your decrees” (vs. 117), and “my flesh crawls in dread of you” (vs. 120) portray the strong emotions that filled the author’s heart.

I.  The double-minded contrasted with lovers of God’s Word  (113 & 114)
II.  Evil-doers contrasted with those sustained by God  (115-117)
III.  The deceitful and wicked contrasted with God-fearers  (118-120)

The more I love God and his Word, the more I hate the ways of the ungodly.

In today’s world, characterized by an abundant tolerance of sinful behavior, some believers might find the passions expressed in this stanza excessive, what some might call “politically incorrect” or even libelous. How do we respond when we read the words, “I hate the double-minded” (vs. 113), or the phrase, “Depart from me, evildoers” (vs. 115)? Should not our attitude be to love the sinner while hating the sin? Are we not supposed to embrace our enemies and do good to those who would spitefully use us? Are not the words that describe God’s rejecting the sinner and discarding the wicked like dross too judgmental and harsh (vss. 118 & 119)? On the other hand, in this age of tolerance could we be in danger of losing our zeal for God’s truth and our fervor for righteousness if we seek to show too much understanding and compassion for those who flaunt his high standards?

When Jesus cleansed the temple of the money changers and animal sellers, the disciples were reminded of the statement, “Zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me” (Ps. 69:9). Such a passage helps us see the need to maintain a healthy balance between hating sin and showing compassion to those who commit such sins. One way we can achieve this is by following the psalmist in developing a growing love for God’s Word which, in turn, leads us to a growing passion for God’s righteous ways as well as a growing aversion to any behavior that dishonors him. At the same time we must never lose sight of the fact that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” to die for those who commit such offenses.

Psalm 119:121-128

Psalm 119:105-112