Proverbs 24:17
Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
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Proverbs 24:17-18. Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth — Namely, into mischief or trouble, as in the former verse; please not thyself in his destruction. This plainly shows that the love of our enemies is a precept of the Old Testament, as well as of the New: see Exodus 23:4-5. Lest the Lord see it, &c. — “For though nobody sees it, God does; and such affections are so displeasing to him, that they may provoke him to translate the calamity from thy enemy unto thee, and thereby damp thy sinful joy with a double sorrow.”

24:17,18. The pleasure we are apt to take in the troubles of an enemy is forbidden. 19,20. Envy not the wicked their prosperity; be sure there is no true happiness in it. 21,22. The godly in the land, will be quiet in the land. There may be cause to change for the better, but have nothing to do with them that are given change. 23-26. The wisdom God giveth, renders a man fit for his station. Every one who finds the benefit of the right answer, will be attached to him that gave it. 27. We must prefer necessaries before conveniences, and not go in debt.The teaching of the proverb warns men not to attack or plot against the righteous. They will lose their labor, "Though the just man fall (not into sin, but into calamities), yet he riseth up." The point of the teaching is not the liability of good men to err, but God's providential care over them (compare the margin reference). "Seven times" is a certain for an uncertain number (compare Job 5:19). In contrast with this is the fate of the evildoers, who fall utterly even in a single distress. 17, 18. Yet let none rejoice over the fate of evildoers, lest God punish their wrong spirit by relieving the sufferer (compare Pr 17:5; Job 31:29). Falleth, to wit, into mischief, as in the former verse. Please not thyself in his destruction; which plainly shows that the love of our enemies is a precept of the old law as well as of the gospel. See Exodus 23:4,5.

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth,.... These words are spoken not to the wicked man, Proverbs 24:15; but to the just man, or Solomon's son, or the children of Wisdom; for by the "enemy" is meant such who are at enmity with the people of God, as the seed of the serpent, and those after the flesh, are: and when these "fall", saints should not "rejoice"; as when they fall into sin; for so to do would be to act as wicked "charity which rejoiceth not in iniquity", 1 Corinthians 13:6, or rather when they fill into calamity and distress; for this is also the part which wicked men act towards the people of God, and should not be imitated in; see Obadiah 1:12. Joy may be expressed at the fall of the public enemies of God and his people, as was by the Israelites at the destruction of Pharaoh and his host, Exodus 15:1; and as will be by the church at the destruction of antichrist, and which they are called upon to do, Revelation 18:20; partly on account of their own deliverance and safety, and chiefly because of the glory of God, and of his justice displayed therein; see Psalm 58:10; but as private revenge is not to be sought, nor acted, so joy at the calamity and ruin of a private enemy, or a man's own enemy, should not be expressed; but rather he is to be pitied and helped; see Proverbs 25:21; for to love an enemy, and show regard to him, is the doctrine both of the Old and of the New Testament;

and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth; even secret joy should not be indulged, gladness in the heart, though it does not appear in the countenance, and is not expressed in words; no, not at the least appearance of mischief, when he only stumbles and is ready to fall; and much less should there be exultation and rejoicings made in an open manner at the utter ruin of him.

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
Verses 17, 18. - A warning against vindictiveness, nearly approaching the great Christian maxim, "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44). Verse 17. - Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour" was a Mosaic precept (Leviticus 19:18); the addition, "and hate thine enemy," was a Pharisaic gloss, arising from a misconception concerning the extermination of the Canaanites, which, indeed, had a special cause and purpose, and was not a precedent for the treatment of all aliens (see Proverbs 25:21, 22). When he stumbleth; rather, when he is overthrown. The maxim refers to private enemies. The overthrow of public enemies was often celebrated with festal rejoicing. Thus we have the triumph of Moses at the defeat of the Amalekites, and over Pharaoh's host at the Red Sea; of Deborah and Barak over Sisera (Exodus 15; Exodus 17:15; Judges 5); and the psalmist, exulting over the destruction of his country's foes, could say, "The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked" (Psalm 58:10). But private revenge and vindictiveness are warmly censured and repudiated. So Cato, 'Distich.' 4:46 -

"Morte repentina noli gaudere malorum;
Felicesobeunt quorum sine crimine vita est."
Of very different tone is the Italian proverb, "Revenge is a morsel for God;" and "Wait time and place to act thy revenge, for it is never well done in a hurry" (Trench). Proverbs 24:17Warning against a vindictive disposition, and joy over its satisfaction.

17 At the fall of thine enemy rejoice not,

     And at his overthrow let not thine heart be glad;

18 That Jahve see it not, and it be displeasing to Him,

     And He turns away His anger from Him.

The Chethı̂b, which in itself, as the plur. of category, אויביך, might be tolerable, has 17b against it: with right, all interpreters adhere to the Kerı̂ אויבך (with i from ē in doubled close syllable, as in the like Kerı̂, 1 Samuel 24:5). וּבבּשׁלו, for וּבהכּשׁלו, is the syncope usual in the inf. Niph. and Hiph., which in Niph. occurs only once with the initial guttural (as בּעטף) or half guttural (לראות). רעו is not adj. here as at 1 Samuel 25:3, but perf. with the force of a fut. (Symmachus: καὶ μὴ ἀρέσῃ ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ). The proverb extends the duty of love even to an enemy; for it requires that we do good to him and not evil, and warns against rejoicing when evil befalls him. Hitzig, indeed, supposes that the noble morality which is expressed in Proverbs 24:17 is limited to a moderate extent by the motive assigned in 18b. Certainly the poet means to say that God could easily give a gracious turn for the better, as to the punishment of the wicked, to the decree of his anger against his enemy; but his meaning is not this, that one, from joy at the misfortune of others, ought to desist from interrupting the process of the destruction of his enemy, and let it go on to its end; but much rather, that one ought to abstain from this joy, so as not to experience the manifestation of God's displeasure thereat, but His granting grace to him against whom we rejoice to see God's anger go forth.

(Note: This proverb, according to Aboth iv. 24, was the motto of that Samuel with the surname הקטן, who formulated ברכת המינים (the interpolation in the Schemone-Esre prayer directed against the schismatics): he thus distinguished between private enemies and the enemies of the truth.)

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