Hence, the word given here is one of absolute antithesis: God loves his elect, but He hates the reprobate. God’s justice, which fully repays evil and fully rewards righteousness, is exemplified in God’s stance toward the wicked. Those who would cringe at the idea of God hating His enemies would do well to consider that it is one and the same absolutely pure and holy justice that (a.)urges David to seek the Lord’s face, and (b.)say that God hates His enemies. These two cannot be separated. It is because God is absolutely holy that fallen men cannot stand before Him in expectation of anything but His wrath. Will God hear those who have not been redeemed by the blood of the lamb? No, for their sins remain. As the prophet Isaiah explains to Israel,
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.1
Those who have not been redeemed are not heard; rather, their guilt, like Cain’s, causes God to hide His face from them.2
Where then is the one who boasts in his own righteousness? Where is the one who boasts in something he has done before God to merit God’s favor? There is no one who has any right to boast about his own greatness before God. Those who boast of themselves are God’s enemies, but those who boast in the Lord know Him, and know that He practices steadfast mercy and grace. As it is written:
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”3
David and his enemies, therefore, exhibit a further antithesis in that David by his humility is boasting in Yahweh, whereas the wicked in their arrogance are boasting of themselves, and setting themselves up for expulsion from the presence of God eternally and the wrath deservedly due to them.
It is in David’s offering up of the daily morning sacrifice that he evinces his knowledge of the Lord, for the giving of a substitutionary sacrifice indicates knowledge of God’s absolute holiness, man’s fallenness, and the unrelenting necessity of the execution of God’s justice. Again we see that David finds nothing in himself in which he may boast. The antithesis between the righteous and the wicked is spoken of here in terms so clear that there is no hope for the self-righteous, and at the same time there is nothing but hope for all who have taken refuge in Christ. For although we are redeemed, we nonetheless sin against our Redeemer and do so against the knowledge of our having been redeemed – and yet, He calls us to repent, to be forgiven, to be cleansed and proceed to commune with Him in love, without shame for our transgressions.
2cf. Gen 4:10-14