Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 20:22
"Do not say, 'I will repay evil'; wait for the Lord, and He will save you"
When your life becomes focused on payback and vengeance, it is focused on the wrong path. It feels like the right path, but you can guarantee that it is not if you are thinking about getting back at someone or making them pay like you paid. All of this direction is destructive to your eventual recovery and success. Someone said that the greatest revenge is success.
In this proverb, Solomon reminds us that we live in a world that is ruled by the Almighty, and you personally do not have to be the avenger of everything that has been aimed at you. In fact, you would be better off to hand the duties of justice, punishment, and consequences to God.
This is not easy and often you have to consciously move in a different direction and do different things than you would like to do. You need to not say things you would like to say. I have seen a number of marriages break up because one or both parties needed to feel that every blow they received was paid back. This is foolishness.
It is impossible to live in our broken, sinful world – in which every person you meet is infected permanently with selfishness – and not have people hurt you. Since Adam's sin, people have placed themselves first in their priority structure, but it is the wise person who realizes that God wants us to place Him first and to let Him deal with consequences.
One of the problems with vengeance is that it is always escalated over the crime. That is why a non-involved third party is the best arbitrator of justice.
Now I realize that police, government, and leaders of all kinds can fail to carry out God's purposes in justice; but we must not begin to seek personal justice as payback for wrong committed against us. If the wrongs done to us were societally damaging, then by all means report the individuals to the proper authorities and let God have it through them but do not begin to be consumed by their evil against you. We were never meant to handle this level of bitterness. We need to hand it to God. He knows where to find people and how best to bring about justice.
This is the Hebrew word qawa, which is wait, look for, hope. There is eager anticipation in this word. It means that we spend time in prayer handing the justice we think is deserved over to God to mete out. This process is mentally, spiritually, and physically powerful. We need to actually hand over to God the prosecution of our case. We need to demonstrate our faith in the Living God that He will act. I have watched a number of people try and exact their little measures of revenge over years and the whole time the person is not feeling their sabotage and I believe God is saying: "I will not do anything until you hand this over to Me. If you want to continue to do half measures, then I will remain uninvolved."
This is the Hebrew word yasa, which means saved, delivered, reap vengeance, help. The clear idea is that God is alive and He will prosecute your case if you hand it to Him. It is clearer in the New Testament that Christians are not to be people who are holding grudges and doing paybacks and contemplating vengeance. Solomon here is saying the same thing. It is not wise to try and settle these scores. In fact, get rid of the scorecard. Let God keep score. Hopefully He will mark you down as a person who consistently sought to meet the needs of others no matter what happened to you.