hated without cause

"In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love." (Psalm 109:4-5 ESV) 

David's Psalm 109 is a prayer for relief against those who attack the innocent. It is at once both a reflection of his own experience as king of Israel, but also, ultimately, of the Lord Jesus, the completely righteous King. He did no wrong, he prayed for his adversaries, and was condemned without just cause. It is written, "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' And they cast lots to divide his garments." (Luke 23:34 ESV) And "...the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'" (John 15:25 ESV) 

In some measure all followers of Christ share in this condemnation from the world: "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you." (Jn 15:18) Daily, we hear Christ's name used as a swear word, his values misrepresented or maligned, his church mocked, and his people mistreated. In many respectable circles people even want to celebrate the "spirit of Christmas" without so much as naming his name. Respectable or not, it's returning evil for good. It's hatred without a good reason.   

The end of the psalm (verses 21-31) reiterates God's faithful love for his needy people who are under attack. However, the middle section (verses 6-20), David's prayer for retribution, may seem harsh and un-Christianly at first reading. Yet, even our Lord said, "I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!" (Luke 12:49 ESV) The Lord may be longsuffering, but he is not forever-suffering. A day of reckoning shall come

Perhaps we don't see how evil it is when evil is returned for the good, or when love is spurned by undeserved hatred. On verse five, Charles Spurgeon wrote, 

"And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love. Evil for good is devil-like. This is Satan's line of action, and his children upon earth follow it greedily; it is cruel, and wounds to the quick. The revenge which pays a man back in his own coin has a kind of natural justice in it; but what shall be said of that baseness which returns to goodness the very opposite of what it has a right to expect? Our Lord endured such base treatment all his days, and, alas, in his members, endures it still. Thus, we see the harmless and innocent man upon his knees pouring out his lamentation: we are now to observe him rising from the mercy seat, inspired with prophetic energy, and pouring forth upon his foes the forewarning of their doom. We shall hear him speak like a judge clothed with stern severity, or like the angel of doom robed in vengeance, or as the naked sword of justice when she bares her arm for execution. It is not for himself that he speaks so much as for all the slandered and the downtrodden, of whom he feels himself to be the representative and mouthpiece. He asks for justice, and as his soul is stung with cruel wrongs he asks with solemn deliberation, making no stint in his demands. To pity malice would be malice to mankind; to screen the crafty seekers of human blood would be cruelty to the oppressed. Nay, love, and truth, and pity lift their wounds to heaven, and implore vengeance on the enemies of the innocent and oppressed; those who render goodness itself a crime, and make innocence a motive for hate, deserve to find no mercy from the great Preserver of men. Vengeance is the prerogative of God, and as it would be a boundless calamity if evil were for ever to go unpunished, so it is an unspeakable blessing that the Lord will recompense the wicked and cruel man, and there are times and seasons when a good man ought to pray for that blessing. When the Judge of all threatens to punish tyrannical cruelty and false-hearted treachery, virtue gives her assent and consent. Amen, so let it be, saith every just man in his inmost soul." (C. H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, Psalm 109:5)


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