Revenge is a divinely forbidden fruit which appeals mightily to our dark side. Avenging oneself instead of leaving room for God to exact His righteous wrath upon an evil doer can be quite tempting. But God expects His people to overcome evil with good, instead of repaying evil for evil. What a spiritual challenge Jesus gives His disciples when He said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…” (Matthew 5:44-45).
Psalm 109 was written by a heartbroken David. He writes: “Do not keep silent, O God of my praise! For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful have opened against me; they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. They have also surrounded me with words of hatred and fought against me without a cause. In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer. Thus, they have rewarded me evil for good and hatred for my love” (vv. 1-5). David had been lied about with hateful and unprovoked accusations. He had received evil in repayment for good, hatred in response to his love. His enemies were unmerciful and vicious (v. 16); they were profane (v. 17). Because of their evil actions, David has a wounded heart which was bleeding profusely (v. 22).
Instead of allowing the spiritual poison of bitterness to take root in his heart and defile it, instead of pursuing a plot to exact revenge upon these workers of iniquity, David turns to God in prayer. Since vengeance belongs to God, David purges his heart of anger, wrath, and malice by making twenty-one specific petitions to God (vv. 6-20).
Honestly confessing the spiritual toxins he felt, David thoroughly cleanses his heart. This purifies his perspective and lifts him above the evil that had been poured out upon him. His prayer closes with these words: “Help me, O Lord my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy, that they may know that this is Your hand—that You, Lord, have done it! Let them curse, but You bless; when they arise, let them be ashamed, but let Your servant rejoice. Let my accusers be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own disgrace as with a mantle. I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yes, I will praise Him among the multitude. For He shall stand at the right hand of the poor to save him from those who condemn him” (vv. 26-31).
It is never easy to overcome evil with good, but, with God’s help, it is possible; and, expected.