Proverbs 24:17-18

When Your Enemy Falls

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth… and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth

1. Rejoice:

a. To be joyful; to rejoice in a happy way.

b. It can also mean to rejoice in an arrogant way… to gloat.

c. In this proverb it clearly means to rejoice in an arrogant way.

2. Rejoicing when an enemy falls is gloating over the misfortune or over the calamity of an enemy.

a. This is what is forbidden in this passage.

b. It is forbidden because it is cruel and unnecessary.

3. II Chron. 20:27 – It is NOT wrong to rejoice when an enemy is defeated in battle.

a. The LORD made them to rejoice over their enemies.

b. In this case, God set the ambush against the enemy and they were smitten (vs. 22).

c. The Jews were given the “spoils” of the battle taken from the slain soldiers.

d. It was God who MADE them to rejoice over this victory.

e. But be careful here:
• It was right for them to rejoice that they won the battle.
• It was right for them to rejoice that God won the battle.
• It was right for them to rejoice that God gave them the spoils of the battle… and not vice versa.
• It was right for them to rejoice that they were delivered from a close call—from a potential massacre.
• It was right for them to rejoice that God’s people won the victory that day.
• But it was NOT right to rejoice in the physical suffering, pain, and death of their enemies.
• They were not to gloat over their enemies.
• They were not to relish the blood, the gory scene on the battlefield, or the horrific loss of life.

f. God Himself does not gloat over the death of His enemies.
• Ezek. 33:11 – “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”

g. It might seem like a fine line, but it is an important one.

h. Clearly God did not MAKE the Jews rejoice over their enemies in a sinful way… in a way that the Word of the Lord forbids in Proverbs.

i. The Lord made them to rejoice that justice prevailed… and that they were delivered, but He did NOT make them to rejoice that the Moabites were bleeding, groaning in pain, or experiencing an early death.

4. Solomon is forbidding rejoicing over our enemies in a sinful, evil manner.

a. I can’t help but think of the dancing in the streets of certain cities in the Middle East when the World Trade Towers collapsed… or the parade in Mogadishu, Somalia, as the American soldier was dragged behind jeep before the cheering crowds.

b. That is GLOATING over the death and suffering of your enemies.

c. But let’s not forget, that the Bible is written to US.

5. We too can get caught up in the emotions of current events.

a. We can gloat over the sufferings of others… especially over our enemies.

b. It is good to cheer our soldiers on to victory in battles against the enemy… but we should not gloat and rejoice over the suffering and death of those defeated.

c. There is nothing godly about being happy and rejoicing over the calamities of others… even if the “others” happens to be radical, Muslim terrorists

d. We really ought to feel sorry for them… have pity on them.

e. Our goal as Christians ought to be to lead them to Christ… not wish they were bleeding, suffering, and dying!

f. Luke 9:54-56 – The disciples got caught up in this kind of wrong thinking and were rebuked by the Lord.
• The Samaritans would not receive them because they were headed to Jerusalem.
• Therefore, the disciples wanted to send fire down from heaven upon them.
• The Lord rebuked their wrong thinking.
• Our heart’s desire ought not to be for their destruction and death, but for their deliverance and salvation!
• Remember, as Christians, we are commanded to LOVE our enemies.
• Gloating over their suffering and loving them cannot be harmonized.

6. We shouldn’t be glad when they stumble either.

a. This basically says the same thing as the first part of the proverb.

b. One distinction might be that we are not to ALLOW our heart to be glad when they stumble.

c. It is our nature to think that way – to gloat over their fall… to secretly delight over their fall or tragedy.

d. It comes naturally to us… because of our sinful inclination, but it is wrong!

e. We can get really caught up in the present war with radical Islam and GLOAT over disasters that befall them… floods in Pakistan… or an earthquake in Iran…

f. Apart from the war, apart from the ideology, and apart from the terrorist attacks, when we see tragedy among our enemies, it SHOULD evoke pity and compassion on our part.

g. They too are made in the image of God—even if they hate us and want us to suffer and die.

h. We are not to fight evil with evil, but rather with good.

7. Consider the example of David (Psalm 35:11-14)

a. David was mistreated by his enemies. They lied about him and did him evil.

b. But he did not respond with evil.

c. David mourned their sickness and loss. He felt sorry for their suffering.

d. That is how WE ought to respond to human suffering—even our enemies.

Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him

1. “Lest the Lord see it…”

a. Rest assured that the Lord DOES see it.

b. He sees our hearts… and the secret gloating that goes on their over the calamity of others.

2. When the Lord sees this kind of behavior, He is not happy… and God is no respecter of persons.

3. The book of Obadiah deals with this subject in detail.

a. Ob. 1:10-13 – The Edomites gloated over the destruction of Judah.

b. The Jews and the Edomites were ancient foes. This animosity went way back to the animosity between Jacob and Esau.

c. They looked on with glee when they were carried away as captives.

d. They gloated over the fact that their wealth was plundered.

e. Ob. 1:19 – And God will turn the tables on the Edomites one day. The Jews will one day possess the mount of Esau—their land!

f. God hates gloating over the destruction, the fall, the failure, or the calamity of others.

4. We may not dance in the streets at the destruction of our enemies, but we might secretly gloat in our hearts and rejoice over it.

a. There is no hiding this in our hearts either. “The Lord sees.”

b. When He sees gloating over their calamity, He is displeased—because it is SIN.

c. And if we regard iniquity in our heart – the Lord will not hear our prayers. There is no fellowship until it is confessed and forsaken.

And he turn away his wrath from him

1. God may turn away His wrath from him (the enemy being gloated over).

2. This statement assumes that the enemy is also an enemy of God… an enemy of righteousness.

3. In other words, vengeance against this enemy is in God’s hands. He will punish all evil doers—in His time and in His way.

4. If the Jews gloat over the fall or the stumbling of their enemies, then the Lord may “turn away His wrath” from them.

a. God may have planned for their destruction apart from their fall or stumble.

b. God may have already planned to deal with those enemies of righteousness.

c. However, if the Jews gloat over their every calamity, God may WITHHOLD judgment from the Jews’ enemy!

d. Thus, God would turn the tables on His own people!

e. Thus, by gloating over the suffering of their enemies, the Jews may actually be LESSENING the suffering of their enemies!

f. Vengeance belongs to the Lord… not to us.

5. God is displeased with this kind of behavior: gloating.

a. It demonstrates an attitude of superiority and pride… arrogance.

b. God hates flesh glorying in itself.

c. Our attitude ought to be: “There but for the grace of God go I.”

d. Arrogance is something that God has always hated and in EVERY form it takes.

6. Prov. 17:5 – Here Solomon states that those who gloat over the calamities of others will NOT be unpunished.

a. Not only is God not pleased with those who gloat, He also will punish those who gloat!

b. And note that this proverb is not restricted to enemies.

c. God punishes gloating over the calamity of ANYONE… including our enemies.