“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.”
One of the character traits of a true Christian is the willingness not to seek revenge for wrongs done to you. Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies and those who “despitefully use you.” How blessed we are to have a savior who does not seek to avenge himself on us for what we have done.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us … while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” (Romans 5.6-7, 10)
The way of the world is to rejoice at the misfortune of opponents, but that is not the way of the kingdom of God. We are not to be glad when our enemy stumbles or fails. Our mindset should be one of grace and forgiveness. Justice yes, but always tempered by grace.
Solomon adds an interesting comment: If God sees our rejoicing over the fall of the wicked, he may turn away his wrath from the wicked man just to rebuke our arrogant, unloving heart against the wicked person.
“Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”
Have you ever found yourself with feelings of envy for people who reject God but are outwardly prosperous and successful by worldly standards? Several times the Book of Proverbs admonishes us not to envy the wicked.
This is also the theme of Psalm 73.
“Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73.1-3)
The psalmist acknowledges God’s goodness, but also confesses there was a point in his life when he lost sight of the Lord and began to covet the prosperity of wicked people. The result of that envy and loss of focus was that he lost his spiritual footing and he stumbled. He took his eyes off of the Lord and got pulled into a jealous mindset.
It’s the Law of Focus. Where your mind goes, you go.