Are Christians free to take their own revenge?
I am certain that virtually everyone who names Jesus as Savior would rightly answer “no.” I would like to add a few thoughts based upon last week’s study in Psalm 109, one of the harshest Imprecatory Psalms of the Old Testament.
One thing is certain in Psalm 109: A very wicked man who did not fear God was out to destroy David, and David prayed fervently for God to bring a severe and permanent judgment on this man. Within the Psalm we DO see David call upon God to judge this man according to His evil ways, but we do not see David himself enter into the arena of taking personal revenge. David was angry over the evil of this man, but in itself we must say that anger is not necessarily sinful, for God Himself has anger against evil-doers (cf. Ps. 5) and the Scripture shows us that God’s saints can have anger without it being sin (cf. Eph. 4:26). Several passages in both the Old and New Testaments give explicit command that God’s people should not take personal into their own hands (Prov. 20:22; 24:29; Matt. 5:43-45; Rom. 12:17-21), and personal revenge is not the path of the Lord. In Psalm 109, David was angered by the evil of the wicked but he entrusted himself to the powerful hand of God to do what needed to be done, the same thing Peter tells us we should do (1 Pet. 2:18-23; 4:19).
In summary, we know that God has every right to judge the sinner (cf. Rom. 9:22). David understood this, and in both Psalm 109 and Psalm 139 (cf. vv. 19-22), we see David call upon God to bring a just judgment on the wicked. However, as he did this David also asked God to guard his heart lest he be overtaken with hatred and bitterness (Ps. 139:23-24). Christians should hate evil, just as God hates evil, but rather than looking at the injustices of a fallen world as a reason to hate or take revenge, we should try to use such situations to bring grace with the goal that God might use it for His glory to save others (Rom. 12:20-21).