8 The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
but the prayer of the upright pleases him.
9 The Lord detests the way of the wicked,
but he loves those who pursue righteousness.
10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path;
the one who hates correction will die.
There is only one reason the wicked person sacrifices, and that is to benefit himself. He may impress other people, but the Lord sees his heart. This also applies to prayer. The wicked exalt themselves even in prayer, saying “thank you that I’m better than other people and do such great things.” By contrast, the upright are motivated not by pride but by gratitude. Being grateful for what they have, they are happy to share it through giving. Repentance, gratitude and the needs of others are the focus of their prayers; with the attitude of “your kingdom come, your will be done.”
“The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.” The prideful and selfish way of the wicked is destructive through and through, in the end no one benefits from it. The Lord detests this path because he knows where it leads, those who take it harm themselves and shut themselves off from all love. Those who pursue righteousness are loved because they are open to love, they are a blessing to all who know them.
“Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path; the one who hates correction will die.” The sternest of discipline is the punishment of life itself. Good parents use discipline to protect their children from the consequences of foolishness, but the one who hates correction has nothing to keep him from stumbling. Learn from your errors, the sooner the better, or they will only get worse.