“O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 97:10)
What does it mean to hate evil? We know the Lord does not contradict himself, and Christ commanded us to love our enemies. So how do we reconcile this?
I would cross reference both verses with Romans 12-19-21:
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Paul is even quoting the old testament in this passage. We can be certain, then what hatred of evil should not look like. So what does that leave us? We should hate the evil within ourselves. We are to shun and fight against our own evil. The rest of the verse contains promises we find much more palatable. Is it possible that God’s protecting the lives of his saints and delivering us from the wicked is intended to be connected to this admonish, in effect, to not regard evil/sin in our hearts?
In any case, the other verses of Psalm 97 also assure us of no need for seeking vengeance. It describes a mighty, sovereign God who reigns over all creation, and even “Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.” He needs no help there from us. To hate evil, then, is to love God and do good.
We thank you, Lord, for you are highly exalted and strong to save. We put our trust in you today. Grant us the strength to return evil with good. Cleanse us of our iniquity. Change our hearts so that we will to obey you out of love, not fear. Open our eyes to the glory of your majesty and increase our faith. In Jesus’ name amen.