The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.
You are in a war. Which side are you on? You are in a war. Are you prepared for battle? It is here; it will get worse. The wicked of this world hate the righteous and want to get rid of them, but good men love the righteous and pursue their prosperity and friendship.
From the beginning, in the first family on earth, this violent conflict was quickly visible, for Cain murdered his younger brother Abel. Why did Cain do such an evil and terrible thing? Because he loved sin, and he hated Abel for being better than him (I Jn 3:12).
As hard as it is for some to comprehend such violent hatred, the murderous spirit of Satan still controls the hearts of the human race (John 8:44; Eph 2:1-3). Only God’s restraining hand keeps Satan from using the wicked against believers today (Ps 76:10). The hatred is burning viciously, but God has bound His enemy from most outward acts. However, the time for a loosing and bloodletting may be fast approaching (Rev 12:12-17; 20:7-9).
This deep and depraved antagonism surprises most, for they have not heard it preached or seen it in action. Their carnal religion, with only a form of godliness and greater love for pleasure than love for God, does not draw the violent hatred of Satan or the wicked. The proverb says the bloodthirsty hate “the upright.” The contemporary churches and carnal Christians that comprise 99% of Christianity today do not qualify. Satan need not hate or persecute them – they are already doing a fine job destroying the kingdom of God.
But the fierce hatred against true saints has never abated, and it is increasing. The conflict between good and evil is heating up for its final battle. The righteous hate the wicked, and the wicked hate the righteous (Pr 29:27; Ps 139:19-22). Good men abominate scorners, and scorners hate them (Pr 24:9; 9:8). The wicked watch, plot, gnash with their teeth, and conspire to kill the righteous (Ps 37:12,32). Believe it – but Jesus wins!
Under God’s throne is the most glorious and precious congregation ever assembled – the martyrs of God (Rev 6:9-11). Those who hated the upright murdered them, as the proverb says. Many of them suffered unspeakable torments and tortures before they were allowed to die. Wise men read and reflect on some of the histories of these brutal campaigns against the children of God. You can read about them in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs or Martyrs Mirror. They are your most worthy heroes (Heb 11:35-38), and God loves them.
Consider Jesus Christ. He healed a man, and the religious leaders immediately conspired to murder Him (Matt 12:13-14). There is a spirit in this world, the prince of the power of the air, Satan is his name, which stirs and directs the wicked in their violent anger and hatred against the righteous. It was never more obvious than against Jesus Christ. If you doubt the animosity indicated by this proverb, just think about Jesus of Nazareth.
The religious leaders of His own nation were venomous toward Him, though He was innocent of any crime, though He only did good, and though He fulfilled every prophecy about their Messiah in the scriptures they kissed in their synagogues. They used a typical worldly tactic of slandering Jesus and extorting Pilate to crucify Him by implying Jesus was an enemy of the state. Like worldlings, Pilate feared them and ordered His death.
Jesus told His disciples the world hated Him because he told them their way of life was wrong (John 7:7). He further told them the world would hate them as well, for He had chosen them out of the world, and they were no longer part of it (John 15:18-19). Should you expect the same? “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (I John 3:13). If you plainly tell a worldly person that their lifestyle is wrong, they will want to kill you.
This world hates any man or woman who will take a stand for righteousness and holiness. If you live godly in Christ Jesus, you will suffer persecution (II Tim 3:12). These perilous times of the last days are filled with so-called Christians who are “despisers of those that are good” (II Tim 3:3). Why do they hate a person just because he is good? Think Satan. Think Cain. Think the Pharisees. They are the devil’s dupes, and they love it that way.
If you and your church are not despised and hated by the world, then you and they are living wrong. It is that simple. If your church is exploding in growth in this wicked generation, it is a corrupt church. Jesus did not come to bring peace for His disciples; He came to bring a sword, and a man’s enemies would be from his own family (Matt 10:34-36). You are in a war. Are you prepared for battle? It is here; it will get worse. Man up!
In this proverb, understand “the just” to seek the soul of the upright, not the soul of the bloodthirsty. You make this choice in interpretation for three reasons: because the just do seek the soul of the upright, they do not seek the soul of the bloodthirsty, and it is the antecedent closest to the pronoun “his.” The lesson is the difference between how wicked men and godly men treat those persons that are upright in their character and conduct.
If you love David of the Bible, consider. He sought any who feared God to be his friends (Ps 119:63,79), but he had no time or desire for the wicked (Ps 26:5; 119:115). He could not stand evil men in his sight, presence, or house (Ps 15:4; 101:3-8). He hated God’s enemies and counted them his enemies (Ps 31:6; 139:21-22). Here is a good example of a just man for you to follow, if you want to be a man or woman after God’s own heart.
The just seek the soul of the upright. The righteous love one another, and they seek one another’s welfare (John 13:35). God’s true ministers must be lovers of good men (Tit 1:8), and they are (II Tim 1:3-4; II John 1:1; III John 1:1). Check your heart by this measure. Do you love the upright? Are your best friends the most holy people you know? Do you crave their righteous fellowship, and do you desire to serve them well? Do they know they can count on you for anything when hatred and persecution threatens them?
Saul tried to kill David, but Jonathan sought him out and protected him. Jezebel tried to kill God’s prophets, but Obadiah hid one hundred of them in caves and fed them (I Kgs 18:3-4). The obstinate Jews plotted to destroy Jeremiah, but Ebedmelech rescued him (Jer 38:1-13). Herodias hated John for condemning her adultery and had him killed, but his disciples sought even his headless body for proper burial (Mark 6:16-29).
The bloodthirsty Jews hated the Lord Jesus Christ, and they betrayed and murdered Him violently, though there was no sin in His life at all (Is 53:9). He was flawlessly and immaculately perfect, so they hated Him and crucified Him cruelly by Roman soldiers. Yet there were just men from every nation who sought Him like no other (John 12:20-22; Luke 10:38-42), and there are yet today a scattered few who still seek the soul of the Lord Jesus Christ (Is 1:9), in spite of the world’s ferocious hatred of them and their Lord.
What should you do? Understand the lesson, and be prepared to suffer for godliness. Pray for those who suffer martyrdom today. Find and join a church that is seeking the old paths of God’s word without regard to numbers or popularity. Hate the wicked as the enemies of God and Jesus Christ (Ps 15:4; 139:21-22). Love and help the godliest men you can find. Rejoice and leap for joy when persecution reaches you, just as Jesus taught (Luke 6:22-23). Remember you are in good company, for He and His apostles did it first.