Say not you, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save you.
The Christian doctrine of forgiveness finds here a distinct anticipation; but that doctrine was not found in the highway, but rather in the byway of pre-Christian morals. It made no mark. It did not find its way into the thought and the feeling of the people.
I. WE MUST EXPECT TO BE WRONGED, OR TO BELIEVE OURSELVES WRONGED, AS WE GO ON OUR WAY. So conflicting are our interests, so various our views, so many are the occasions when an event or a remark will wear an entirely different aspect according to the point of view from which it is regarded, that it is utterly unlikely, morally impossible, that we should not be often placed in a position in which we seem to he wronged. It may be some sentence spoken, or some action taken, or some purpose settled upon, slight or serious, incidental or malevolent, but we may take it that it is one part of the portion and burden of our life.
II. BITTER RESENTMENT IS DISTINCTLY DISALLOWED. It is natural, it is human enough. As man has become under the reign of sin, it finds a place in his heart if not in his creed, everywhere. It seems to be right. It has one element that is right - the element of indignation. But this is only one part of the feeling, and by no means the chief part. A bitter animosity, engendered by the thought that something has been done against us, is the main ingredient. And this is positively disallowed. "Shy not, I will recompense evil;" "It hath been said,... hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, Love your enemies... do good to them that hate you;.... Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath;" "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger... be put away from you, with all malice" (Matthew 5:43, 44; Romans 12:19; Ephesians 4:31).
III. WE HAVE AN ADMIRABLE ALTERNATIVE. We can "wait on the Lord," and he will "save us." We can:
1. Go to God in prayer; take our wounded spirit to him; cast our burden upon him; seek and find a holy calm in communion with him.
2. Commit our cause unto him; be like unto our Leader, "who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously" (1 Peter 2:23). We shall thus ask God to save us from ourselves, from indulging thoughts and feelings toward our neighbour winch shame rather than honour us, which separate us in spirit from our great Exemplar (1 Peter 2:21); and to save us from those who would injure us, working for us, in his own way and time, our deliverance and recovery.
IV. WE WIN THE TRUE VICTORY. To be avenged on our enemy is a victory of a certain kind; the moment of success is a moment of triumph, of exultation. But:
1. That is a victory which is greatly and sadly qualified. When we regard the matter disinterestedly and dispassionately, can we really envy such triumph? Should we like to have in our heart the feelings which are surging and swelling in the breast of the victor - feelings of bitter hatred, and of positive delight in a brother's humiliation, or suffering, or loss?
2. The victory of forgiveness is pre-eminently Christian. It places us by the side of our gracious Lord himself (Luke 23:34), and of the best and worthiest of his disciples (Acts 7:60; 2 Timothy 4:16).
3. It gives to us a distinct spiritual resemblance to our heavenly -Father himself. (Matthew 5:45.) - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.