Here is a reminder to be gracious and merciful to our enemies. We should have mercy on our enemies - even when God is the One who is bringing the judgment upon them. That may seem a little strange to us at first, but if you will give me just a few moments, you will soon see why this is wise for us.
When we are walking with God, we will have enemies. That is a given in our fallen world. But when God displays His anger toward someone - we should not be on the sidelines cheering for their judgment. We can cheer God's justice - but we should do so with a measure of fear and trembling. The reason for this is because we need to remember who WE are.
We are beneficiaries of God's mercy - not His judgment. If God were to judge us for our actions - we would quickly learn that we too, apart from His grace, are His enemies. There is something to grasp - and it is important that we keep it fresh in our minds. Were it not for what God did in Jesus Christ, we would be under His wrath and anger as well. It is only because of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross that we are not currently under God's anger. Therefore, we do not need to rejoice when our enemy stumbles and falls. We need to remember that except for the grace of God, we would be enemies as well.
To dance and sing over someone's destruction also is not what God desires from us. Paul was mercilessly persecuted by the Jews as he preached the gospel. He faced opposition in many cities - and in one he was dragged out and stoned. They sought to have him condemned in court once he was arrested by the soldiers of Rome - and that arrest was because of their wrongful accusation of him. Yet how did Paul respond to them? Did he desire their destruction? Did he cheer when they were judged and destroyed? Paul's response in Romans was that he wished himself accursed for their sakes - if only that would result in their salvation. That does not sound like someone who is rejoicing over the anger of God against his enemies. That sounds like someone who grasps that he is the chief of sinners. That sounds like a man who grasps that apart from grace he took would be accursed, damned if you will because of his sin. And it was this grasp of spiritual realities that led Paul to respond with mercy - not rejoicing over his enemies and their position before God.
The Lord sees when men rejoice over the stumbling and falling of their enemy - and it displeases Him. He is judging with a righteous judgment - but we have no standing upon which to take joy in another's fall. We all would face the same fate as they, were it not for a merciful God. When God watches us rejoice over someone else's destruction - He is displeased. The Bible also tells us that He will turn away His anger from them. What is pretty frightening is that most likely His displeasure might be refocused - on us!
When I consider this passage - I remember a historical event from 2 Kings chapter 6. Elisha was prophet at the time, and it enraged the king of Aram that Elisha knew his secret war counsels and would warn Israel where Aram was about to attack. The king of Aram sent his army to surround Elisha in order to capture or kill him. Elisha saw the armies of Aram surround his city and prayed that God would strike the entire army with blindness. God answered Elisha - and he told the blind army to follow him. He led the army into the center of Israel's territory where they were now surrounded by Israel, who readied themselves for the slaughter. But when Elisha prayed that their eyes would be opened - the king of Israel asked if he should kill Aram's armies? I love God's response in this matter. Elisha told the king of Israel not to kill them - but to make a feast for them - showing them the ultimate mercy. This ended their hostilities.
What a great picture of God's ways. God is angry with us due to our sins - He is angry every day with the wicked. But . . . He does not bring judgment - but shows mercy. It is His mercy that leads us to repentance - and He desires for us to show the same mercy to our enemies that He shows to us. What a glorious picture of His grace this leaves us. Therefore we should not rejoice at the fall of our enemy. We should pour love on them in Jesus name, no matter what their response. This is wisdom. This is God's way. This is the power of God that brings men to salvation - and to a change in how He views them. What He desires is for us to rejoice in mercy - and tremble at the display of His anger. It is a solemn reminder of what could have been ours, if we had not been saved by His grace.