"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away His anger from him."
Have you an enemy? Have you someone in your life who is out to get you? Or maybe there is someone who ignores, mistreats, or slanders you? How do we act towards such a person? The Bible gives us clear guidelines for dealing with those who mistreat us. Romans 12:17-21 teaches us to not repay evil for evil, to promote peace, to not avenge ourselves but to trust God to deal with the person as is fitting, and to do good to them. We are to overcome evil with good. Matthew 5:43-48 calls us to love our enemies, to pray for them, and to do good for them. God is not only concerned with our outward actions to our enemies, but with our heart attitude toward them. These verses from Proverbs drive that truth home. We are not to even be happy about the fall of our enemy. There should be no secret thrill when we see our enemy stumble. We should never take pleasure in the misfortune and difficulty that comes to others. It displeases the LORD very much to see us gloating over the calamity that falls upon one we dislike.
This proverb also gives us a warning about such secret pleasure in the trouble of our enemy. By such a mean spirit, we bring on ourselves God's displeasure and discipline. God will now direct His anger toward us. The Lord sees not only our actions but also all that passes in our hearts. He requires us to love our enemies and to feel compassion for them even when they stumble. What a high standard that God has called us to! Who can ever live up to this? We all can confess that we have not loved our enemies very well. We can all remember times when we secretly rejoiced to see someone we didn't like in some trouble or difficulty. How we all need God's forgiveness! In fact it is only those who are children of God that can begin to love their enemies. It is only those with a new heart and the Spirit dwelling inside them that can show this love. This kind of love comes from God because this is how God loves.
God's love and compassion are so very great. We see His love shining in a blazing brilliance when we understand His love to His enemies. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the LORD God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" Ezekiel 18:23. It is not His delight to bring judgement. He does good to His enemies. He gives them many good things to enjoy. "He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust." Matthew 5:45. God gives evil people good food to enjoy, friendships, talents, comforts, laughter, and many other gifts. He does this even though they never thank Him or praise Him. The truth is, they often mock His laws and people. They insult and hate His person. They would kill Him if they could. But God continues to give good gifts. He even warns them of their sin through His word and their conscience. He is patient with them, giving them time to repent even when they reject His gospel. His love is so great that He died for those who were His enemies. "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life." Romans 5:10. All of us who are Christians were once enemies of God. But in His infinite grace and love, He paid our debts, changed our hearts, and adopted us into the family of God. Such magnificent love should motivate us to love our enemies.