Proverbs 24:17-18

Proverbs 24:17-18

17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, 18 or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn His wrath away from them.

Above we have Saying 28 from Proverbs 24 that may very well date its origins back to the book of Job chapter 31

29 Did I rejoice at the destruction of him who hated me? I filled with glee when disaster overtook him?
30 No, I did not allow my mouth to sin by asking for his life with a curse. CJB

And to the book of Exodus chapter 23 as well

4 If you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey straying, you must return it to him.
5 If you see the donkey which belongs to someone who hates you lying down helpless under its load, you are not to pass him by but to go and help him free it. CJB

In the New Testament this is stated even more powerfully by Jesus in Matthew chapter 5

43 You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Love your neighbor — and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45a Then you will become children of your Father in heaven. CJB

Thus we can see Saying 28 as a warning against spite and malice pointing towards Christ’s dictum to “Love you enemies.” We know the Bible has many celebrations when enemies of Israel were defeated so this does not apply, but applies to our private and personal enemies where one might consider it natural to rejoice when they stumble and fail. Instead such an attitude is disapproved and rejected by the Lord ‘s own action whereupon He would turn His wrath away from them.

Consider how we love to quote John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life

And neglect the following verses

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

God, out of love, chooses to provide an opportunity for everyone who was condemned (including each and every one of us) to be saved. So is it too much for Him to instruct us Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice when he may yet save them, grant them eternal life.

It is entirely appropriate for us to pray for our enemies with the hope that they too will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Reading the Bible we discover how very often God offers His mercy time and time again for those who have turned their backs on Him … until their time runs out.