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A Love/Hate Thing

But mostly love. Psalm 119.97-104

Psalm 119.97-104

Pray Psalm 119.97, 104.
Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day…
Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.

Psalm 119.97, 98, 104.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
O, how I love Your Law, O Lord! I ponder it throughout the day.
The wisdom of Your holy Word keeps all my fiercest foes at bay.

Your words are sweet unto my taste, the sweetest taste that e’er could be!
I hate and loathe all evil ways; give understanding, Lord, to me.

Read Psalm 119.97-104; meditate on verses 97, 104.

1. What affections are in play here?

2. To what is each directed?

We recall that the Holy Spirit is writing the Law of God on our hearts (Ezek. 36.26, 27). So we need to get the basics right that they may govern and direct all our learning. And the basics are quite simple: Love God and His Word; hate evil and every false way. Write that fifty times on the back of your eyelids.

In his great work, A Treatise on Religions Affections, Jonathan Edwards explains that the heart deploys two kinds of affections in doing its work in the soul. First, there are those affections that draw us to something, the chief of which is love. Others would be interest, sympathy, compassion, kindness, and so forth. The second kind of affections are those which cause us to be repulsed by something, and the chief of these is hate. Other such affections would be disgust, indignation, outrage, and so forth. We need both kinds of affections, and we see that here in Psalm 119.97-104.

Make sure you love God and His Law so that you stay focused on His path, meditating on and understanding what His Word requires (vv. 97, 99), keeping to His way (vv. 100-102), remembering what you’ve been taught (v. 102), and thus growing to love God’s Word even more (v. 103). See how all these verses engage those “attracting” affections?

At the same time, we must keep those affections in play that turn us away from things: the ploys, schemes, threats, or enticements of our enemies (v. 98); the allure of evil paths (v. 101); and all false ways (v. 104). These we must hate and despise, and if we do, our love for God and His Law will enable us to grow through every temptation, trouble, or trial, and to find His Law sweeter than anything else.

Walking God’s pathway is a love/hate thing. Be sure you keep each in proper focus.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Prepare your outside work,
make it fit for yourself in the field; and
afterward build your house” (Prov. 24.27).

The order of operations in mathematics is the sequence in which a problem is solved. In everything we do some activity comes first, then other activities follow.

The same is true for these verses: First, I love God’s Law and meditate in it all the day long (Ps. 119.97). Then, I get understanding, which clues me into false ways and evil that I should hate. (Ps. 119.104)

“How much better to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver” (Prov. 16.16).
Wisdom said, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength…I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me” (Prov. 8.13, 14, 17).

The Law teaches us the order of operations for our lives so that we get the Love/Hate Thing right:
First, we love God more than anything or anyone else in the world.
We solemnly take on the name of Christian with sincerity—not in vain.
We remember to rest in the Lord one special day a week.
That sums up love for God.
Second, we hate disrespect for parents.
We hate murder.
We hate adultery.
We hate thievery.
We hate lying.
We hate coveting.
That sums up love of neighbor.

All roads of the Law lead to love of God and neighbor.

As Jesus said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22.37-40).

And all of life (Deut. 32.46, 47) – walking God’s pathway with a proper focus on love and hate.

For reflection
1. Why do we need to have both love and hate operating in our hearts?

2. How do we know what to love and what to hate?

3. What should we do when we find either of these affections out of focus or not working as they should?

If any person boasts that he loves the Divine Law, and yet neglects the study of it, and applies his mind to other things, he betrays the grossest hypocrisy; for the love of the law, and especially such an ardent love of it as the prophet here expresses, always produces continual meditation upon it. John Calvin (1559-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.97

Pray Psalm 119.97-104.
Ask the Lord to work in your heart to help you love Him and His Word and to hate everything that opposes Him. Pray specifically about the day ahead with these two affections in focus.

Psalm 119.99-102.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
Your Word is with me ever more; it fills my soul and guides my hand.
More than all those who’ve gone before Your holy Law I understand.

I guard my steps from evil ways that I may keep Your holy Word.
I keep Your judgments for Your praise, for You my Teacher are, O Lord!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can learn to read the Bible to see and delight in Jesus more completely. Our book, The Joy and Rejoicing of My Heart, can show you how. Learn more about this book and order your free copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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