Proverbs 24:15-18 15 Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place:For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; 18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, And He turn away His wrath from him.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary
Verses 15-16 This is spoken, not so much by way of counsel to wicked men (they will not receive instruction, ch. 23:9 ), but rather in defiance of them, for the encouragement of good people that are threatened by them. See here,
1. The designs of the wicked against the righteous, and the success they promise themselves in those designs. The plot is laid deeply: They lay wait against the dwelling of the righteous, thinking to charge some iniquity upon it, or compass dome design against it; they lie in wait at the door, to catch him when he stirs out, as David’s persecutors,Ps. 59, title. The hope is raised high; they doubt not but to spoil his dwelling-place because he is weak and cannot support it, because his condition is low and distressed, and he is almost down already. All this is a fruit of the old enmity in the seed of the serpent against the seed of the woman. The blood-thirsty hate the upright.
2. The folly and frustration of these designs
(1.) The righteous man, whose ruin was expected, recovers himself. He falls seven times into trouble, but, by the blessing of God upon his wisdom and integrity, he rises again, sees through his troubles and sees better times after them. The just man falls, sometimes falls seven times perhaps, into sin, sins of infirmity, through the surprise of temptation; but he rises again by repentance, finds mercy with God, and regains his peace.
(2.) The wicked man, who expected to see his ruin and to help it forward, is undone. He falls into mischief; his sins and his troubles are his utter destruction.
Verses 17-18 Here,
1. The pleasure we are apt to take in the troubles of an enemy is forbidden us. If any have done us an ill turn, or if we bear them ill-will only because they stand in our light or in our way, when any damage comes to them (suppose they fall), or any danger (suppose they stumble), our corrupt hearts are too apt to conceive a secret delight and satisfaction in it—Aha! so would we have it; they are entangled; the wilderness has shut them in —or, as Tyrus said concerning Jerusalem (Eze. 26:2 ) I shall be replenished, now she is laid waste. “Men hope in the ruin of their enemies or rivals to wreak their revenge or to find their account; but be not thou so inhuman; rejoice not when the worst enemy thou hast falls.’’ There may be a holy joy in the destruction of God’s enemies, as it tends to the glory of God and the welfare of the church (Ps. 58:10 ); but in the ruin of our enemies, as such, we must by no means rejoice; on the contrary, we must weep even with them when they weep (as David, Ps. 35:13, Ps. 35:14 ), and that in sincerity, not so much as letting our hearts be secretly glad at their calamities.
2. The provocation which that pleasure gives to God is assigned as the reason of that prohibition: The Lord will see it, though it be hidden in the heart only, and it will displease him, as it will displease a prudent father to see one child triumph in the correction of another, which he ought to tremble at, and take warning by, not knowing how soon it may be his own case, he having so often deserved it. Solomon adds an argument ad hominem—addressed to the individual: “Thou canst not do a greater kindness to thy enemy, when he has fallen, than to rejoice in it; for them, to cross thee and vex thee, God will turn his wrath from him; for, as the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God, so the righteousness of God was never intended to gratify the wrath of man, and humour his foolish passions; rather than seem to do that he will adjourn the execution of his wrath: nay, it is implied that when he turns his wrath from him he will turn it against thee and the cup of trembling shall be put into thy hand.’’
Father in heaven who sees the goings on in the midst of a wicked generation , on earth, please guide our thoughts and help us not be involved in the web of skullduggery (Crafty deception or trickery) against our enemies but instead let You be our avenger for You have said in Romans 12:19 (KJV)19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Help us trust in You for You are just and will take care of us in the presence of our enemies. Thank You Lord for Thine is the greatness and the power for ever on earth and in heaven. Amen.