Proverbs 20:22

Wait on the Lord



1. Here Solomon discusses the subject of vengeance… and he tells us what to do when we feel overcome with a desire to “strike back.”

Say not thou, I will recompense evil…

1. Recompense:

a. The term means to pay back.

b. It can be used in either a good or an evil sense.
• Good: Prov. 13:13 – Rewarded.
• Bad: to pay back out of vengeance. This is the sense it is used in Prov. 20:22.

2. Evil:

a. This term for evil is a very broad term (like our term evil).

b. It includes the thought of that which is immoral, but that does not seem to be the emphasis here.

c. Here the emphasis is on that which is evil in the sense of bad, injurious, hurtful, calamity, tragedy, troublesome, etc.

3. Recompensing evil: This expression speaks about a person who has been wronged.

a. Someone has done something hurtful or injurious to them, and they are seeking to “get even.”

b. It speaks of a person taking matters into their own hands and paying back the person who injured you. (tit for tat)

c. Rom. 12:19 – As Christians, we have specifically been told NOT to recompense evil.
• Avenge: Execute justice; defend one’s cause.

4. This proverb speaks of a situation where one person has been injured by another.

a. The type of injury is left unmentioned… so that the proverb is generic enough to cover a multitude of possible situations.

b. Have you ever been injured by someone else?
• Has someone been spreading rumors about you?
• Has someone been stabbing you in the back at work?
• Has someone double-crossed you at church?
• It could even be a family member—a spouse, child, or parent… has a family member been abusive to you verbally… or physically?
• Do you feel the IRS has cheated you? Or a government agency has caused you untold trouble?
• Have you been singled out and treated unfairly?
• Has someone wrongly accused you of evil?

c. In a world with 7.5 billion sinners, these sorts of things happen all the time. You’re not alone.
• Oftentimes people do “evil” to us.
• Life is not always “fair.”
• There are troublemakers out there who seem to get their kicks from making life miserable for others.

5. In such a scenario, Solomon tells us what NOT to say: “I will recompense evil.”

a. Why do you suppose he tells us what NOT to say?

b. Because he knows human nature. He knows that when we feel that we have been wronged or abused, this is the first thought that pops into our minds!

c. Proverbs 24:29 – “Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.”

d. “I’ll get even with him! I’ll teach him not to mess with me.”

e. It’s almost like a built in defense mechanism.
• If someone hits you, you hit them back.
• If someone insults you, you insult them right back.
• To the flesh, this is as natural as breathing.

f. It is human nature to want to strike back… yet we are repeatedly told NOT to say that… not to think that.

6. If we say anything, it should be along the lines of Matt. 5:44 –

a. BLESS them that curse you, bless and curse not.

b. PRAY for them that despitefully misuse you.

c. Rom. 12:14, 21
• If we SAY anything it should be to bless and not curse.
• If we DO anything, it should be to do GOOD unto them… in return for their evil.

d. Acts 7:59-60 – Consider the example of Stephen. (“Lord, lay not this sin to their charge!”) He meant it.

7. Whatever you do or say…

a. DON’T: Take vengeance into your own hands…

b. DON’T: Curse your enemy…

c. If you can’t say or do anything good, then don’t do or say anything!

But wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.

A. Wait on the Lord

1. Wait means more than waiting as we might think of waiting in line.

2. Wait = To hope; to trust; to depend upon someone.

a. Dictionary of Bible Languages: “To look forward with confidence to that which is good and beneficial, often with a focus of anticipation in a future event.”

3. In this context, the idea of this term is the opposite of taking matters into your own hands.

a. Wait… depend upon God to handle the matter… trust in Him to take care of the wrongs done…

b. Look forward with confidence that the Judge of all the earth will do right…

c. Have no confidence in OUR ability to bring about justice… and have complete confidence in God’s ability to bring about justice… even if it takes a long time… even if we don’t see it in our lifetime!

d. That’s waiting… and depending on God. That’s an expression of FAITH and confidence in Him.

4. I Peter 2:23 – Follow the example of Christ; don’t strike back; commit your situation to the Lord.

a. Deut. 32:35 – God is a God of justice and vengeance. Leave it all in His hands.

5. I Cor. 13:4-7 – LOVE: the fruit of the Spirit in us will:

a. Suffer and still be kind! Is not easily provoked.

b. Bears all things… endures all things. (It is able to wait…)

c. God’s plan is to overcome evil with good.
» This is MORE than just NOT taking vengeance. (negative side)
» This is actively doing GOOD to our enemies.
» It is possible to obey God outwardly by NOT seeking vengeance.
» But even the one who does not take out vengeance may secretly brood on the inside and allow bitterness and resentment to fester
» That’s not victory. That’s covering up and suppressing the inward spirit of vengeance.
» True victory is overcoming evil with good… positive words and deeds done in a true spirit of humility.

6. There are some good reasons to wait on the Lord too.

a. Wait: because vengeance belongs to the Lord. It is not our place.

b. Wait: because in God’s time and in God’s way, justice always prevails… if not in this life, in the life to come.

c. Wait: because sometimes when we think we have been “wronged,” it may, in fact, have been justice.

d. Wait: because vigilante justice is against the law.

e. Wait: because operating on the basis of emotion often leads to even more wrongs committed… and more sin.

f. Wait: because this tit for tat mentality can easily blow up and get out of control. It can escalate into something far beyond the original insult.

g. Wait: because striking back drags you down to their level.

h. Wait: because our position is in heaven—where such petty, earthly insults and wrongs all seem quite small from heaven’s vantage point.

B. And He will save thee…

1. Solomon does NOT say that if we leave it in God’s hands, God will smite that miserable creature hip and thigh!

2. Rather, he says that God will deliver YOU… the injured party.

3. What will He save us from?

a. Perhaps further trouble… from injury…

b. Perhaps he will deliver us from our enemies…

c. Perhaps He will deliver us from ourselves… from taking vengeance into our own hands… and then having to suffer the consequences of that action… because that usually makes matters worse.

4. While we are WAITING on the Lord, learn to see God’s purpose in the wrongs… in the grief caused by others… in the injustice…

a. Remember Joseph?
• He was double-crossed by his own brothers. They sold him into Egypt. He was double crossed several times in Egypt too.
• Then in God’s providence, Joseph was exalted to be Prime Minister in Egypt… and during the famine, his brothers came to him begging for food.
• He had the perfect opportunity to retaliate… to execute justice against them… to level vengeance against them… to get even.
• But he had learned long before that to wait on the Lord.

b. Men may mean it for evil, but God means it for good!
• God DELIVERED Joseph from slavery to being Prime Minister.
• God also delivered Joseph from taking matters into his own hands and seeking vengeance. Instead, Joseph waited upon the Lord… and the Lord saved him.
• And look how God turned the tables on them all!
• When people do evil to us, it hurts initially.
• However, we should look at it from eternity’s vantage point. It is an opportunity to manifest Christ-like character by obeying God and BLESSING those who curse us… by overcoming evil with good.
• What a testimony to the Lord that is… and just remember: people are watching how we live and how we respond to the events of life.

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