In the recent news of the reported death of terrorist Osama Bin Laden, I was able to catch up with a couple of well-known Bible scholars to get their perspectives on this situation. First, King Solomon had this to say:
“Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Do not lie in wait like an outlaw against a righteous man’s house, do not raid his dwelling place; for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him. Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out. Fear the LORD and the king, my son, and do not join with the rebellious, for those two will send sudden destruction upon them, and who knows what calamities they can bring?” (Proverbs 24:14-22)
When I asked Matthew Henry to comment on Solomon’s perspective, he added this:
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, 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.”
This is just SO TRUE! its been so disturbing seeing everyone’s reaction to this.
“…or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.”
Why was this part of the verse not emphasized? Is it because it speaks of a present or future tense that is no longer available to the “dead” enemy? I have seen this verse quoted a few times today, emphasized exactly where is is emphasized in this article. Very curious…
In this case, yes, God won’t suddenly decide to have mercy on Bin Laden because of the actions of others. That part is not de-emphasized though. It is true.
I know I have been having a hard time knowing how to feel about the situation. On one hand, God has given the power to the government so that we may live in peace. Therefore, I am glad that an enemy of our country has been taken down. However, I do not rejoice like many people because I know that he is now in Hell, suffering for what he has done, along with Hitler, and many others.
Osama Bin Laden was not my enemy, he was an enemy of the living God and I will boldly say that God is good, righteous, just and His judgements are true and right. I rejoice not that one has fallen but that God is true to His word and that the wicked will fall. Psalms says the the Lord hates the soul of the wicked. Praise be to God for his perfect righteousness and the way of escape that He has provided through the blood of Jesus Christ that I may be counted amoung the righteous rather than be counted as I deserve! King Solomon also said “When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.” Prov 11:10 The people who are rejoicing in the streets are not gloating, they are shouting because the wicked perish as the Lord has promised. They just don’t realize that one day will come where they will be the perishing wicked unless they have been washed in the blood of Christ.
I’ve been seeing a lot of “Christ followers” seemingly rejoicing about the death of this man. I don’t think this is the correct approach, as well you are advocating through the use of these scriptures. I wonder however and I could be wrong, if by rebuking other “Christ Followers” and those that aren’t with Scripture like this paints the wrong Biblical view as well. The story of his death is more like that of a fugitive caught than the vigilante type justice and ill will described here in this scripture. For instance, what about Isaiah 1:17? If you or I had child or loved one that was murdered, we would want the killer caught and brought to justice by the authorities. So that they couldn’t commit crimes like this again. If that killer tried to kill to get away & was shot dead, would it not be just? Justice not vengeance. A person will not find peace in death or vengeance, only in the Lord. I’m now choosing to be careful how I criticize people for celebrating as well I don’t celebrate, except that man will not be able to kill any longer. God sees our hearts and will correct us if we celebrate for the wrong reason. If only Bin Laden’s death would bring some kind of peace… sadly the enemy will still persecute & kill our brothers & sisters…
I soo agree with Rachel! Well spoken.
I agree as well. We need to remember, though, that our enemy has not fallen. There are probably those waiting to step in for Osama Bin Laden. And he was only the face we saw. Who really planned 911? We need to be more careful than ever. I hated it that the newspapers identified too many involved, possibly putting them in danger (not an original thought. It was mentioned in my women’s group this morning).
Sad thing when the lost dies. Even sadder that we do not make every effort to reach them with the good news, however difficult.
Have a look at this blog for perhaps a slightly different perspective: