The Lord God is loving, gracious, and merciful. These attributes are essential parts of His character. Love is the very foundation of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. However, God’s great love does not negate the fact there are things He hates.
Such hate is not like human hatred, but rather is a holy displeasure or dislike of things, which are in opposition to His glory. Scripture mentions seven things the Lord hates and detests.
According to Proverbs 6:16-19, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (NIV).
These different items fall under one general category: sin. Therefore, God despises sin since it goes against His glory.
How God Hates Evil
In describing a sinful person, the author of Proverbs is using different parts of the body to demonstrate a sinful attribute (Proverbs 6:12-15). In studying Proverbs 6, one immediately recognizes the parallelism of Proverbs 6:12-15 and 6:16-19.
The eyes, lips, hands, and heart are all mentioned in both passages. Such a person, or villain, as Proverbs 6:12 says, is the epitome of a life seeped in evil. Sinful behavior is detestable to the Lord since He hates sin (Proverbs 6:16-19).
At the top of the list of characteristics of the “villain” is haughty eyes. To understand “haughty eyes,” one must remember that Proverbs is a book of poetry and falls under the genre of wisdom literature. Considering the literary context, therefore, “haughty eyes” is a figure of speech.
The Amplified Bible helps in understanding this figure of speech since haughty eyes means, “A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others]” (Proverbs 6:17). Hence, God hates the sin of pridefulness.
Putting pride at the top of the list of things that God hates is quite fitting considering Adam and Eve’s sin of pridefully wanting to be in God’s place based on Satan’s lie (Genesis 3:1-7).
This is why Scripture later warns of the folly of pride since it leads to a fall (Proverbs 16:18; 18:12; 29:23). In the case of Adam and Eve, their sin of pride did cause a fall, the Fall of Man, which has affected every human since that time (Romans 5:12).
In Proverbs 6:17, a lying tongue is mentioned. The picture of a lying tongue is quite clear since people speak lies with their mouths. Many other verses in Proverbs include the foolishness of speaking lies instead of truth (Proverbs 12:19; 21:6; 26:28).
Lies are not just products of speech but begin in the heart. As Jesus said in Luke 6:45, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (NIV). Furthermore, those who lie are imitating the father of lies, Satan (John 8:44).
In showing another part of the body involved in sin, Proverbs 6:17 also includes “hands that shed innocent blood” (NIV). Such an act is murder since murdering someone involves a willful and malicious act of taking another person’s life.
Murder is such a serious act that a part of the Mosaic Law was capital punishment for murderers (Leviticus 24:17). God still hates murder just as much as He did during Noah’s and Moses’ days (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12).
Taking the life of another is detestable to the Lord, who created man in His own image (Genesis 1:27). Specifically, murder displays a lack of value for human life.
Having a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that rushes into evil, being a false witness, and a person who stirs up conflict are all further ramifications of a life steeped in sin (Proverbs 6:18-19). As was shown, all these actions start in the heart as sin.
The heart is deceitful and sinful above all else, which is why individuals should not act on sinful desires, which will only lead to worse trouble (Jeremiah 17:9). For the person who continues to give themselves to what God hates, their fate is destruction (Proverbs 6:15).
God Hates All Sin
While Proverbs 6:16-19 is the main passage in Scripture, which discusses what God hates, this list is not meant to be exhaustive. Instead, Proverbs gives a descriptive illustration of sin as a villain just as is done for wisdom and folly who are personified as women (Proverbs 1:20-33; 9:13-18). God’s hatred of sin does not just relate to these seven specific sinful acts.
All sin is detestable to the Lord. This is why sinful man cannot be in a close relationship with the Lord without the purifying blood of Jesus.
As Psalm 5:4-5 says, “For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong” (NIV). There is no darkness in the Lord, which is why those who walk in darkness or evil cannot claim to know God (1 John 1:5-6).
Thankfully, Jesus willingly bore the sins of mankind on the cross so that people can be in a relationship with Him (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24). Because of Christ’s sacrifice, those who believe can freely and confidently approach God (Ephesians 3:12).
Did God Really Hate Someone?
Readers of Scripture may have noticed the verse that reads, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Romans 9:13, NIV). This verse is based on Malachi 1:2-3, which similarly states the Lord “hated” Esau. A person may wonder if such a verse means that there are people that God hates and who do not receive His love and mercy.
Just as recognizing Proverb’s genre was important for studying specific passages, so also is it important to understand figures of speech in the Bible. In ancient times, there were many different common figures of speech, which are confusing to modern readers.
The phrase “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” is a figure of speech used to emphasize Jacob as the one who received the blessings from God (Genesis 25:23; Romans 9:11-12). By using such a strong contrast of love/hate, the illustration of God’s blessing on His covenant people is much more apparent than saying “I have chosen Jacob over his brother.”
God did not hate Esau and does not arbitrarily choose to hate others either. His love is offered to all (Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). The Lord had divinely chosen Jacob to be a nation set aside for His purposes (Deuteronomy 7:6).
People today may still not understand why He chose Jacob over Esau, but He did. Such a divine decision, not based on any merit of Jacob, is the focus of the statement in Malachi 1:3 and reflected in Romans 9:13.
Saved by Love
God hates sin. From pride to lying to murder, and other sinful acts and thoughts, evil is detestable to the Lord. Because of humankind’s sinful nature, God cannot be in a relationship with sinful man due to His holiness and righteousness.
Only through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus can a person enter a relationship with the Lord. Without Christ’s loving sacrifice no one could be pleasing to the Lord due to the evilness of the human heart.
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.