“I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God. Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually. Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood. Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies. My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments” (Psalm 119:113-120).
The evidence of the rejection of God’s word is evident all around us in society, in the media, and sadly even within the church. The psalmist here speaks of the judgement that has to come upon the “evildoers”, those who “err”, deceivers and the “wicked”. He is not being judgemental here, for he is simple noting the obvious outcome for those who do not honour and reverence the Lord.
The words “vain thoughts” can be translated as ‘double-minded”, therefore the psalmist clearly states, inline with his subject matter, that he hates the double-minded. Is he being politically incorrect and offensive towards others? Not so, for because he loves the word of God, he cannot but hate falsehood and lies. It is likely that he is referring those who “halt … between two opinions” (1 Kings 18:21), who sit on the fence between what the Bible says and what the world believes. It is said that such people are able to speak out of both corners of their mouths, that is, one day they will speak for God, but the language of the world is on their lips the next. James 1:8 reveals the nature of the double-minded, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”. There is no such vain thinking amongst those who love the Scriptures, for it is the solid foundation on which we build our lives. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24).
The word of God is our hiding place and shield. Psalm 28:7 says, “The LORD is my strength and my shield”. The word of God protects our minds and souls from all the battles raging in the world while we keep our trust (“hope”) in Him. No wonder the psalmist could tell his enemies to “depart”. Even the Lord Jesus Christ, who defeated each temptation with the Scriptures, said, “Get thee hence, Satan” (Matthew 4:10).
The psalmist did not entertain those who rebelled against or ridiculed God’s word. He did not waste time entering into long discussions with them about their objections to the Bible. It is said that a man is known by the company he keeps, so “evildoers” are not to be part of our circle of friends if we want to keep our testimony pure. “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Our contact with the world must include a desire to share the Gospel of salvation with them. It is only in obeying and upholding the truth will we find that the word of God will strengthen us against the onslaughts of the devil. Those who do this are never unnerved by the mocking others level against them and they will not be “ashamed” of their faith in Christ. God will “hold” and keep us “safe” though all of our trials and tribulations in this world. We may be attacked from all sides, but He will deliver us from all who hate Him and His word.
The day of reckoning is coming upon all those who hate God, His word and His church. This judgement might be poured out while they are still alive, but it will certainly happen when they stand before the Lord. Richard Dawkins may not believe in God, but he has an appointment with wrath unless he repents and turns to Christ. The so-called cleverness of such people will one day appear in the true light of their stupidity. What about those who are less abusive towards Christ, how will they fare? The fact is, they will be “trodden down” and eternally rejected by God too. “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:15). This includes all that “err” and teach “falsehood” in the church. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Those who either hate or “wrest” the scriptures (2 Peter 3:16) will suffer the same fate. They will be cast away as useless just like the silversmith throws out the scum from the silver.
Only those who love God and His word will escape the coming destruction. They will not be countered among the wicked who will experience eternal damnation. The psalmist speaks of trembling before the holiness and judgement of God. Is it not better to tremble before Him here than having to do so at the judgement? “Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed” (Isaiah 66:5). Even the devil trembles today. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). It is only sinful, Bible-rejecting evildoers that do not. “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). If God did not so judge the world that rejects Him, He would show that He had no respect for His own word.
The psalmist here reveals the eternal destiny of those who honour God and those who do not. He plainly shows that there are only two possible outcomes to how a person lives his or her life on earth. His opening comments in this section of Psalm 119 reveals that God does not distinguish between those who take the middle ground and those who openly attack Him, both are worthy of the same judgement. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).