Psalm 31:5-7 (ESV)

Into your hand I commit my spirit;

you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

[6] I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,

but I trust in the Lord.

[7] I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,

because you have seen my affliction;

you have known the distress of my soul,

It’s a blunt forthright statement. “I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols”. The world is full of people who bow down to false gods. There are those who bow down to literal images of stone and metal and wood. There are those who bow down to gods that are a creation of their own imagination and there are those who bow down to gods that have millenia of tradition behind them so that their adherents believe that the gods are real. And then there are those who believe that they do not worship anything at all but are still guilty of idolatry because they virtually worship themselves or science or the good of humanity. Idolatry is the predominant sin of the ages in every corner of the world.

So when Psalm 31 says “I hate those who bow down to worthless idols” does this mean that we should harbour active hatred in our hearts for those who, even faithfully, worship what is not? And what would such hatred lead to and how would it be expressed? And what about all the other Bible texts that talk about loving our enemies and having compassion on the ignorant and seeking to convince them of the truth of the Gospel? Understand the verse before us as not contradicting the love that is to mark believers in the Gospel.

We do not hate people. We do not want them dead or think it legitimate to end their lives.

In the Psalm before us the hatred amounts to ignoring them when it comes to seeking help in our times of trouble. Verse 5 says – “Into your hands I commit my spirit” and this means that we do not put our trust anywhere or in anyone, else. This is what verse 6 (and the rest of the Psalm) plainly states.

I hate those who worship idols but I trust in the Lord.

The opposite of trust in God is hatred of false gods. The hatred is not trusting their help or advice or seeking guidance from them or their gods when we are needy. How do you feel when you say “hello” to people and they intentionally refuse to answer? They are sending you a message. They are telling you that you are not worthy of their time. They are telling you that you have done something to them that they are holding against you. They haven’t done anything bad to you but they are sending a message of rejection, resentment, and yes, even hatred. That is how we treat idol worshippers. We do  not ignore them. We ignore their gods. We will talk to them but we will not talk to their gods. We will not grant that their system is just as valid as ours. And when you treat someone’s god like that it will be taken very seriously. You are telling them they are wrong, that their gods cannot help and that those gods are not worth your time.

Also remember that this Psalm is Messianic. It points us to the cross when Jesus cried verse 5 as His last words before He died. Even though God had turned His back on His Son as He died on the cross. Even though Jesus is being punished for the sins of others. Even though Jesus has not been heard in His cries of anguish, He knows that there is nowhere else to put His trust than in Him. God’s ways are righteous altogether and even when He calls us into the valley of the shadow of death we will go nowhere else.

That is a great insult to all the other belief systems that claim to be better than that. We believe (know) that there is only one God and that He is three Persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will call upon the only God there is God and Him alone. There is no one and nothing else to call upon.

And since that is the case, we will seek to convince others who do not believe in this One true God that He is the God who will receive them and save them and forgive them. We will do that because we love them and want them to know the wonder of worshipping the One God that is.