16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers. – Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV
There are many in our world who refuse to believe in God. There are others who believe in God, but their version of Him is of their own making. They have chosen attributes and qualities they find comforting and non-convicting. They worship a God who is nothing but love, all the time. They tend to reject the God as portrayed in the Old Testament because He appears to act in ways that are antithetical to their concept of Him. He is too angry, vengeful, and barbaric for their tastes. They prefer the more loving and compassionate God of the New Testament who is gracious, kind, and forgiving.
But when we reject the God of the Old Testament, we diminish the very One we say we believe in. God is loving, but He is righteous and just as well. He is holy and, because of that character, He is required to deal with all unrighteousness and wickedness. He must judge sin justly and completely. And the God of the Bible hates sin – all sin.
As uncomfortable as it may make us feel, our God does express hatred. Multiple times in the book of Proverbs we are reminded of His divine hatred. But we must never confuse God’s hatred with our own. His is perfect, holy, sinless, and completely justified in condemning and abhorring our sin. He understands the danger of sin and the damage it can produce in our lives.
So, in the middle of this proverb, Solomon provides his sons with a less-than-lengthy list of the things that God hates. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list but simply an abbreviated inventory of the kinds of activities God finds repellent and deserving of His anger.
There are six things the Lord hates—
no, seven things he detests… – Proverbs 6:16 NLT
It is as if Solomon is recalling the six things that God hates and then suddenly remembers one more. This kind of numerical list is not uncommon in the book of Proverbs. In fact, Proverbs 30 contains several of them.
The leech has two daughters:
Give and Give.
Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, “Enough”:
Sheol, the barren womb,
the land never satisfied with water,
and the fire that never says, “Enough.” – Proverbs 30:15-16 ESV
Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a virgin. – Proverbs 30:18-19 ESV
Under three things the earth trembles;
under four it cannot bear up:
a slave when he becomes king,
and a fool when he is filled with food;
an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress. – Proverbs 30:21-23 ESV
Four things on earth are small,
but they are exceedingly wise:
the ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
the rock badgers are a people not mighty,
yet they make their homes in the cliffs;
the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;
the lizard you can take in your hands,
yet it is in kings’ palaces. – Proverbs 30:24-28 ESV
Three things are stately in their tread;
four are stately in their stride:
the lion, which is mightiest among beasts
and does not turn back before any;
the strutting rooster, the he-goat,
and a king whose army is with him. – Proverbs 30:29-31 ESV
Again, these lists are not meant to be exhaustive or comprehensive. But the six-no-seven format is intended to convey the idea that there are more things belonging to the list than can be included. In other words, Solomon is telling his sons that there are just a few of the things that God finds unacceptable and worthy of His divine wrath.
Solomon states that God hates these things because they are an abomination to Him. The Hebrew word Solomon used is tôʿēḇâ, and it describes something that is morally disgusting to God. He finds these things shameful, unacceptable, and abhorrent. They are detestable to Him. And Solomon is quite specific in his language. He declares that they are an abomination to God’s “soul” or nep̄eš. In the Hebrew way of thinking, the soul was the seat of emotions and passions or the inner being. Solomon is saying that these seven vices cut to the very heart of God. They are an affront to His being or essence because they stand in direct opposition to His divine character.
Take a close look at the list:
- haughty eyes
- a lying tongue
- hands that shed innocent blood
- a heart that devises wicked plans
- feet that make haste to run to evil
- a false witness who breathes out lies
- one who sows discord among brothers
Not exactly a jaw-dropping, eye-popping list of sins. We expect to see a murderer’s row of life-sentence-worthy crimes. But instead, we read a rather bland list of pedestrian-sounding sins that just about everyone on earth has been guilty of at one time or another. The only one of the seven that seems worthy of inclusion is number 3. It describes those who take life without cause.
But all the rest appear to be rather innocuous. But Solomon states to God hates them all equally and vehemently. Only one seems to be what we would classify as worthy of hate, because it involves the taking of an innocent person’s life. But Solomon is showing that, in God’s eyes, all of these things are equally hated because they are all detestable to Him. He hates the pride in our lives as much as He does the taking of innocent life. They are both in violation of His law, and He hates them because He is holy and righteous.
His anger is His reaction to the breaking of His perfect law. As a just judge, He must deal with them rightly and righteously. Solomon is fully aware that his God hates sin and he wants his sons to know it as well. So, he warns them that these kinds of things are abhorrent and offensive to God. They are not to be tolerated, played with, excused, or minimized.
When we see the pride in our lives, we must remind ourselves that God hates it. When we lie, we must remember that God loathes it. When we find ourselves thinking about doing anything that God deems wrong, we must never forget that God hates it. The sad reality is that many of us do these things without thinking at all. They are second nature to us. But God will not wink at it or ignore it like we do. His holy character will not allow it. He hates them because He knows that they are destructive and each of them is really an assault on His sovereignty over our lives. He wants us to learn to hate what He hates and love what He loves. He wants us to know Him well enough that we share His heart. He wants us to get to the point in our relationship with Him that what He abhors, we too abhor.
What makes Solomon’s list so interesting is that it contains so many sins that we each commit on a regular basis: Pride, lying, slander, evil thoughts, a love of sin, and the spreading of discord. We all stand guilty as charged. So, Solomon is not describing the life of the serial murderer or hardened criminal. He is letting his sons know that these kinds of attitudes and actions stand in opposition to the will of God for their lives. From the smallest sin to the greatest, God hates them all because they each violate His will and bring sorrow to His heart. They are not what He intended for His children. So, we are to develop a hatred for them that matches that of God. We are to learn to hate what he hates. And notice that this list is self-focused, not other-oriented. Solomon is not suggesting that his sons hate all those who do these things. No, he is pleading with his sons to hate the sin so that they will not embrace it in their own lives.
Recognizing that God has high standards and a zero tolerance for these things is key to wanting to work hand-in-hand with the Holy Spirit to see them removed from our lives. Our cry becomes the cry of David, “Create in my a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NLT).
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.