Trusting God's Justice (Proverbs 20:22) - Radical

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Trusting God’s Justice (Proverbs 20:22)

Do not say, ‘I will repay evil.’ Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.
– Proverbs 20:22

This is a good word that we need to remember whenever evil is done against us, whenever people hurt us, or harm us in some way, or attack us in some way.

Proverbs 20:22 calls us to not repay evil with evil.

Whenever evil is done against us, how should we respond in a way that glorifies God and is good for us? And Proverbs 20:22 is saying, “Don’t take things into your own hands. Do not say, ‘I will repay evil.’ Instead, wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.” So instead of looking to what you can do to repay evil, look to the Lord.

Now, I do want to give a caveat here. Obviously, if someone does something that is illegal, or physically harmful, or anything that requires other authorities to be involved, Proverbs 20:22 is clearly not saying that you should not contact those authorities. In fact, the Bible’s clear that God puts civil authorities and governments in place for the protection of people from evil and when evil is done, so by all means, when things rise to that level, then contact those authorities that God has put in place for good. At the same time, that is trusting in the Lord and what he’s put in place instead of taking things into your own hands and saying, “I’m going to repay this evil.”

Proverbs 20:22 is a reminder to not take vengeance into our own hands.

And this is the real danger in our hearts, to want to get revenge, to want to respond to someone’s evil by actually doing evil to them, and Proverbs 20:22 is saying, “Wait. For the Lord, trust in the Lord. He will deliver you, and he will ultimately bring about justice. So trust in him.” And yes, take appropriate steps as needed through trust in him, but in all of that, guard your heart against wanting to repay evil with evil.

So we pray, God help us to trust in you and wait for you when people wrong us… When people do evil to us when people do harm to us. God, we pray for wisdom to know when to involve others… When to contact authorities of any kind, or to go to others. Even when we think about Proverbs 20:18 right before this, how plans are established by counsel. We pray for wise counsel in that way. And God, in all of this, we pray that you would keep us from taking things into our own hands in such a way that even in our thoughts… We want to do evil towards someone in response to their evil toward us, and our desires and in our words and our actions. God, help us to be self-controlled. Help us to patiently wait for you and for your deliverance.

This verse reminds us that God ultimately works everything for our good.

God, we praise you that our times are in your hands. Even thinking about what we read in Proverbs 16:4, that you work out everything for your purposes… Even the wicked for a day of disaster, that you are sovereign over even evil and wickedness… And that you, just as Genesis 50:20 makes clear and the cross makes clear… You take that which others intend for evil and you turn it for good. Oh, God, we trust in you, we praise you for your power to turn evil into good. We pray that you would help us when people do evil toward us to trust in you. Help us to honor you with the way we respond. Help us to love our enemies… To pray for those who do harm against us, and to trust in your justice and your mercy for them.

In all this, oh, God, we praise you for the gospel. Jesus, we praise you for enduring evil, your crucifixion for the salvation of sinners. All glory be to your name for the gospel and for your Spirit in us. Help us to live out of the overflow of your Holy Spirit when evil is done to us.

Prayer for the Kanembu People

And God, we pray for the spread of this gospel through our lives… To people around us, even when evil is done to us, and God, to peoples around the world.

We pray today for the Kanembu people of Chad… This isolated people group on the desert region of northwestern Chad… Almost a million people who have little to no knowledge of your love for them. God, we pray that the good news of Jesus who died on the cross for their sins and rose from the dead would reach the Kanembu people of Chad. That they might be saved. That they might know the deliverance that you promise in Proverbs 20:22.

In Jesus’ name, we pray all these things according to your Word. Amen.


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David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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