Proverbs 6:16

The Hate-and-Detest File

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him. Proverbs 6:16

When I hear the word hate, I flinch. And usually, I feel guilty if I use that toxic word in exasperation – “I hate when that happens” or “I hate when you do that.” Consequently, when I read Proverbs 6:16, I’m rattled by the intensity of the writer’s word choice. Do hate and God belong in the same sentence?

Apparently they do. In fact, the writer emphasizes his point in the second half of verse 16 by using towebah, which means detestable or abominable.* In the Bible, towebah often refers to idols as well as items and practices related to idol worship.

What acts warrant such strong language? Almost everyone would place “hands that shed innocent blood” in the Hate-and-Detest file (v. 17). And certainly “a false witness who pours out lies” against a guiltless person is equally abominable (v. 19). I also understand why “a heart that devises wicked schemes” and “feet that are quick to rush into evil” are included (v. 18). They slide easily into the file because I associate them with someone else, not me.

But the other three items in the file make me squirm: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and people who stir up dissension among fellow Christians (vv. 17, 19). I’ve committed all of those sins. How can God group pride and disunity with murder? How can my name appear on the same list as Adolf Hitler’s?

Pride, the desire to exalt self, is the root of all sin. It leads to lies and quarreling, which may balloon into wicked schemes like false accusations and murder. God exists outside of time, so He sees the seed (pride) and its fruit (murder) as one action. We usually don’t. Therefore, Scripture consistently expands our view, stretching our limited perspective to fit God’s wide-angle truth lens.

Viewing pride, lies, and strife as God does – detestable sins – not only will help us stay on the path of righteousness, but also it will keep us from judging others more harshly when their sins seem more despicable than ours.

Are pride, lies, and strife in your Hate-and-Detest file?


The writer of Proverbs 6 wasn’t exaggerating. Read Revelation 21:8 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5 for other groupings of sins that God considers equally egregious. Do you view them as God does? Why or why not?

Read Proverbs 8:13. How does this list match up with Proverbs 6:16-19? What would you consider “perverted speech”?

According to Jeremiah 44:2-6, what else does God hate? How can we be as guilty of this sin as Israel and Judah were?

Romans 12:9 says, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”  What “good things” listed in Romans 12:10-21 will help us learn to “hate what is evil”?

 Denise K. Loock

* “Hebrew Lexicon :: H8441 (NIV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 4 Oct, 2014.

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