The following is the fifth post in a series on how to stop hate from a biblical perspective. Join The Good Book Blog and Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies Joanne Jung over the coming weeks to reflect on how Christians can work to stop hate. “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” — Proverbs 10:12 ESV
“Dr. Jung, I understand that this is how God sees me, but now I understand how God sees my roommate. We don’t get along very well.” The student who said this was referencing his research and reflection on Psalm 139 and its application to a current personal situation. I still resonate with these words and it’s been years.
In my second post of this series on #howtostophate, the practice of using the caption “Made in the image of God” alongside a thought, image or a real person helps us to see others as fellow image bearers. This ability is foundationally based in how God sees each of us and how He sees others in our lives. We often pray for God to help us see people the way He sees them, but it’s not always easy and we can be left to wonder how that can happen practically. God provides Psalm 139.
Below is a transformative way to begin seeing others the way God sees them, especially the ones who know exactly which of our buttons to push and how long to push them. Below is Psalm 139 with blanks to fill in as you read the psalm. Insert the name of a person and the appropriate pronouns. Echo these words to God as a prayer and take note of what begins to happen in your own heart. Use this as often as needed. Sometimes, this tool will be situational, other times, it will need to be at least a daily practice.
Take note that verses 19-22 (in italics) are classified as imprecatory, that is calling down a curse on someone. This may seem out of place in a psalm well-known for its words, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” The psalmist has shifted his thoughts from addressing God’s omniscience to his desire for God to “kill the wicked.” Here, the psalmist postures himself honestly before God, venting his anger toward those who oppose Him. His hatred toward those who oppose God is not disguised and he attempts to take — not matters — but God into his own hands. After he directs his anger to God, he remembers God’s transcendence and His intimate ability to search the heart. In submitted humility, he lets God deeply search the contents of his heart and its cry for true justice or its predisposition for counterfeit control, cancel culture or self-righteousness. He desires nothing to interfere with his relationship with God and following His lead.
Could we be so real before God to allow our hatred to be heard and known by Him — a greater benefit for us than Him who already knew — and thus create space for His perspective to break through the protective layers of our prideful self? Oh! the relationships that were needlessly strained or broken where they could have been preserved had we gone to God first with our resentment, bitterness, anger and hate.
Set aside a few quiet moments before God to fill in the blanks below with the name and pronouns of someone you’ve been nudged by God’s Spirit to pen here. I pray expectantly for you as you do so.
Psalm 139: 1-18, 23-24
Lord, You have searched _______ and known _______. You know when _______ sits down and when _______ stands up; You understand _______ thoughts from far away. You observe _______ travels and _______ rest; You are aware of all _______ ways. Before a word is on _______ tongue, You know all about it, Lord. You have encircled _______;
You have placed Your hand on _______. This extraordinary knowledge is beyond _______. It is lofty; _______ is unable to reach it. Where can _______ go to escape Your Spirit? Where can _______ flee from Your presence? If _______ goes up to heaven, You are there; if _______ makes _______bed in Sheol, You are there. If _______ lives at the eastern horizon or settles at the western limits, even there Your hand will lead _______; Your right hand will hold on to _______. If _______ says, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”— even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You. For it was You who created _______ inward parts; You knit _______ together in _______ mother’s womb. _______ will praise You because _______ has been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and _______ knows this very well. _______ bones were not hidden from You when _______ was made in secret, when _______ was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw _______ when _______ was formless; all _______ days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. God, how difficult Your thoughts are for _______ to comprehend; how vast their sum is! If _______ counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when _______ wakes up, _______ is still with You. God, if only You would kill the wicked—you bloodthirsty men, stay away from me—who invoke You deceitfully. Your enemies swear [by You] falsely. Lord, don't I hate those who hate You, and detest those who rebel against You? I hate them with extreme hatred; I consider them my enemies.
Search _______, God, and know _______ heart; test _______ and know _______ concerns. See if there is any offensive way in _______; lead _______ in the everlasting way.
Read the first post, “Identifying Counterfeit Control”, second post, “Using the Caption: ‘Made in the Image of God,’” third post, “Extending Friendship to a Stranger,” and fourth post, "To Move Forward: Forgive," in the series.