'Say not thou, I will recompense evil: Wait for Jehovah, and he will save thee.'
September 4, 2016 by David Farmer 0 comments
The world often says, ‘Don’t get mad, get even!’ The worldly man’s first response to any injury or offense is to retaliate. Our God has addressed this problem throughout Scripture, the frequency demonstrating to us the prevailing commonality of this matter. God has given many strictures which, to react to the world’s axiom, say ‘Don’t get mad, neither seek to get even!’ The Holy Spirit has clearly directed our steps through the pen of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans. There is no ambiguity in God’s Word about this matter, He has fully declared His mind here in Romans and many other places in Scripture. Hear His voice;
Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men. Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. —Romans 12:17-19
A respected commentator from days of yore has offered much wisdom upon this passage and its good application for us, when he points out the terrible ill effects of such an attitude of seeking revenge that were prevalent; he has written;
“If private revenge were allowed, it would soon fill the land with confusion and blood (another writer used the word Alceldama; a field of blood); for whilst men’s passions are kindled by the smart of a fresh injury, they cloud the judgment, and hurry on those who are under their power, to the most dangerous irregularities. By indulging them, we would be driven on to make very disproportionable returns for the wrongs done to us; we might wreak our vengeance on the blameless, as David would have done, if Abigail had not disarmed his fury; we might bring upon ourselves the guilt of the bloodiest crimes, and make ourselves miserable through all the remainder of our days. Most wisely, therefore, and graciously we are forbidden to avenge ourselves, or so much as to say that we will do it.” —George Lawson
Yet much more importantly has David, ‘the sweet Psalmist of Israel’ been equipped by God the Holy Spirit to teach us many of these lessons in his Psalm 37. Hear the exhortations that we have been given in this blessed psalm. Immediately, we read that God would have us to Fret not thyself because of evil-doers. Is that not most conspicuously one of those features in the sinful nature of mankind that leads to the imagined demands upon our ‘manhood’ to avenge ourselves? It has once been said that what we do is to ‘sit and stew’ about a perceived injustice or offence. That is no different than fretting about something. We sit and stew about it and work ourselves into a dither. Fretting is spoken of elsewhere in the Older Testament with respect to the disease of leprosy. There was something that received the name of ‘a fretting leprosy.’ Just what was a ‘fretting leprosy’? We read of ‘a fretting leprosy’ only three times in the Scriptures. Each of these three occasions is to be found in the book of Leviticus. The first is in chapter thirteen. We will cite the fifty-first verse;
He (the priest) shall look on the plague on the seventh day: if the plague be spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in the skin, whatever service skin is used for; the plague is a fretting leprosy; it is unclean.
Whatever else this fretting leprosy was, it was at the very least comprised of two things; namely it was unclean and it was spreading. It reminds me of something that is encountered in Florida by the forestry service; namely muck fires. Muck is made up of ‘rich black earth and decayed matter’ according to our dictionaries. The key in this is the ‘decayed matter.’ Vegetation, of course, is profuse in the state of Florida. When it has died, it becomes part of the decaying landscape. It eventually becomes covered over with ‘rich black earth’ and even buildings. There are veins of this muck extending over large areas of Florida and the southeast. When a fire should happen to break out in these ‘veins’ of muck, they burn under the ground and are extremely difficult to trace out and extinguish. They have spread to ‘who knows where.’ This is how this spreading leprosy is depicted in the Word of God. It was causing great harm and it was spreading. That is also how vengeance works in the hearts and minds of sinners—and we are all sinners, some saved sinners; some lost sinners, but yet all sinners. When we fret about a supposed injury, or some ill-spoken word perhaps, we are encouraging, or at least allowing, the spread of that ‘muck.’ It will spread! It will grow and increase! Eventually we will feel compelled to relieve ourselves of this fret. We will make an attempt to avenge ourselves upon our adversary.
But the Word of God has provided an abundance of alternate recourses for us to avail ourselves of in the matter. David has, immediately after exhorting us to fret not thyself because of evil-doers, then exhorted us further to Trust in Jehovah; to Delight thyself also in Jehovah; to Commit thy way unto Jehovah; Trust also in him; to Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for him. Rather than seeking to avenge ourselves, we must gird up the loins of our minds, be sober and set our hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto us (1 Peter 1:13). Yea, in the words of David, we are to trust God; vengeance belongs unto him and not unto us. We are to delight ourselves in Him; how can we be said to be delighting in our God when we are not trusting Him to avenge us for wrongs done unto us? We are to commit our way unto Him. Can it even be imagined that we are committing our way to our sovereign God while we are meditating our own devices for getting even with someone? We are to be trusting in Him; we are to be resting in Him; we are to be waiting patiently for Him to take vengeance upon evil-doers, if and when He so pleases and chooses. Where is our faith if we are spending our time in ‘not getting mad, but getting even?’
Say not thou, I will recompense evil: Wait for Jehovah, and he will save thee.’
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
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