Solomon—or whoever the author of Proverbs—announces a list. “These six things doth the Lord hate!” he begins. But at once he must correct himself. “Yea, seven,” he decides, “are an abomination to him.”
In rhetoric, we call what has just happened metanoia. It is when you make a statement, and then instantly correct some part of it. St. Paul uses it in 1 Cor. 7:10: “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord.” And in Gal. 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” And Jesus uses it in Matt. 11:9: “But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.” A few more examples–but you get the point.
So why does Solomon (or whoever the author) decide he must increase the number of evils that incur the Lord’s hatred from six to seven? It’s not just because the Jews thought seven to be the perfect number. A look at the list will give us something of an idea.
- a proud look
- a lying tongue
- hands that shed innocent blood
- an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations
- feet that be swift in running to mischief
- a false witness that speaketh lies
- he that soweth discord among brethren
Did you catch what I did? I hope so: Lying is on the list two times. These six things doth the Lord hate—but wait, it’s actually seven, because lying is so bad I have to count it twice.
Pride is on the list once. Mischief, once. Even murder is there only one time. But lying counts as two abominations. I find that fascinating.
“I am the truth,” Christ says, and so any offense against truth is an offense against Christ—indeed, against his very identity.
Yes, it’s that bad.