(Is It Right To Seek Vengeance?) Bible Question
“I have a hard time reading some of the Psalms. The writers often beg God to bring vengeance on their enemies. But, Jesus taught us to love and pray for our enemies.”
“O Lord, God of vengeance,
God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O Judge of the earth,
Render recompense to the proud.
How long shall the wicked, O Lord,
How long shall the wicked exult?”
– Psalms 94:1 – 3 (New American Standard Bible)
I have chosen this Psalm from among many that describes situations in which vengeance is called for. You will notice in this text, God is described as a God of vengeance. This coincides with the New Testament. . .
“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” – Romans 12:19
It is God’s task to bring judgment on people, not ours. The apostle Paul goes on to say what our task is when people are evil around us. . .
“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:20, 21
God will take vengeance on evil doers. God had the right to do so. And the knowledge and wisdom to do so. We cannot see into people’s hearts. So, our job is to treat people right in all situations, even when they are mistreating us.
Yet, it is important to know that godly people can seek justice (or hunger that right prevail). For good to win, evil must be defeated. It is not wrong to hunger for the day God does act and bring vengeance (justice, retribution). Paul himself expressed this attitude. . .
“For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:6 – 8
Paul wants to see justice done, and says it is only right that God deal with those who act unjustly. It is not up to you or me to judge or bring vengeance on others. As you noted, our task is to pray for them and be Christ-like toward them. But, I can still long for justice and seek God’s wisdom to bring it about.