Psalm 139: 19 O that you would kill the wicked, O God, and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me — 20 those who speak of you maliciously, and lift themselves up against you for evil! 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. 24 See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
It’s hard for me to read this passage and not think of Jesus’ teaching to his disciples, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” What a contrast right? I realize the words here are attributed to King David, not Jesus – or even God himself, but they articulate sentiments associated with righteousness as it was practiced in ancient Israel. David wrote these things because he understood them to be in alignment with God’s wishes.
So imagine you were brought up reading words like these and being instructed to take them to heart – and then Jesus comes along. On the one hand he performs great miracles indicating the power of God is with him. Yet he is continually breaking the rules Jews had tried to observe for centuries and teaching others to do the same. As an example, teaching people to love their enemies rather than hate them. How could that not be confusing? People like the Pharisees (teachers of the rules of God) are characterized as villains in the gospels, but I’m not sure that’s altogether fair.
Heavenly Father, I’m confused. Truly. How is it that scripture portrays your heart for non-Jews so differently in the new and old testaments? What am I missing in all this? Give me grace to understand. Amen.