Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
This passage of scripture teaches us the godly principle of forbearance when we are hurt, wronged, insulted, or gossiped about by anyone. We should not harbor the spirit of revenge, whether in thought, word, or deed, for it is contrary to the spirit of Christ. The word revenge means retaliation for wrongs or injuries done, and it's important that we get a clear understanding of what the Bible is saying to us about this very common problem.
God is not saying that justice must not be done when wrongs are committed, but the eagerness displayed in having the offender punished, and the delight that is often indulged in seeing recompenses rendered, constitutes a spirit that is akin to satan's. In addition to cultivating the spirit of patient forbearance, the Lord makes a very profound statement about justice to be meted out. He declares that vengeance is His domain, and in His capacity as the rightful judge, we should be willing to let our cases rest with Him, knowing that He will do that which is just and right.
The psalmist David almost made a critical mistake when he decided to take matters into his own hands because of the gross ingratitude displayed by one who should have known and done better. Nabal was a very rich man who owned very much sheep, goats and cattle, and while David and his men were in hiding from king Saul, they faithfully guarded Nabal's herds from the roving marauders who often stole or plundered the unwary indiscriminately.
The time of shearing the sheep had arrived and this was usually a time of rejoicing and celebration where much food was prepared and distributed to those who were involved in caring for the livestock, and so David graciously requested that He and his men be given a portion of the food that was being prepared. Upon hearing of David's petition, Nabal returned a very rude answer by referring to David as a runaway slave who needed to go back to his master. This uncouth response kindled David's anger and what followed next constitutes one of the main reasons why God says that vengeance is His and that He will repay. Let's read:
1st Samuel 25:9 And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased. 10 And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be? 12 So David's young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings. 13 And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff. 21 Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good. 22 So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
Note well that in his anger, David was about to kill all the men who worked for Nabal, those who had nothing to do with the decision to exclude David from Nabal's bounties. This is one of the main problems that arise when we seek revenge, for in our anger and thirst for retaliation, we often act and think irrationally, and the deeds that follow almost always go way beyond the pale of that which is justly due. Let's read:
Proverbs 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
In our own experiences we would sometimes come across those who treat us unfairly, those who violate our rights and freedoms, and those who deliberately do us wrong, and like David we will be tempted to take matters into our own hands, but the word of God comes down to us when we are faced with such situations. Let's read:
Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Proverbs 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: 18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.
We hope and pray that all clamoring for revenge and retaliation would cease in every heart, as we behold the perfection and kindness manifested in Christ Jesus. The word "Christian" means little Christ and therefore we are to walk in the footsteps of The Master who said "Follow Me". God bless!