by A. A. Neale
When the traffic light turned green in Allentown, Penn., Dwight Steidel watched the driver in front of him continue to chat with a pedestrian. Steidel rolled down his window and told him to move or pull over. “He immediately began to curse at me. I believe he did not know I was a police officer,” Steidel said, since he was driving an unmarked police car. The officer pulled the man over. His driver’s license had been suspended. And he was carrying cocaine and lots of cash. And he was driving a stolen car.
Bank officers called police in Hillsborough, N.C., about a suspect. Capt. Dexter Davis confronted him and asked him if he had a weapon. “He pulled his book bag off his shoulders. He opened the bag up and held it open to me,” Davis said. No gun, but a note in clear view demanded, “I want $10,000 in $100 bills. Don’t push no buttons, or I’ll shot you.” Davis laughed out loud. “I was looking for a weapon, but here was this note with nice large letters.” The 42-year-old would-be bank robber was arrested.
Doesn’t it give you just a little bit of satisfaction when somebody gets what’s coming to them? Especially when the thief or perpetrator is rather dumb? Serves them right, don’t we say?
If we do say or think such a thing, watch out! We may get what’s coming to us.
So said the Lord to Edom:
“But you should not have gazed
on the day of your brother
In the day of his captivity;
Nor should you have rejoiced
over the children of Judah
In the day of their destruction;
Nor should you have spoken proudly
In the day of distress”
(Obad. 12, NKJV).
The Edomites even took advantage of the Israelites when the Lord punished them. So he tells Esau,
“For the day of the Lord upon all
the nations is near;
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
Your reprisal shall return upon your own head”
The Lord punishes no one out of pleasure. “‘Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’ says the Lord God, ‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?'” (Ezek. 18:23).
He doesn’t want us to get our kicks from the wicked’s downfall either. So says Proverbs:
“He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished” (Prov. 17:5b).
“Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him,
And He turn away His wrath from him”
As much as we hate the sin, and even, in Old Testament perspective, the sinner,* we always regard it a sad day when Satan claims another soul and the Lord must express his ire toward the rebellious.
Let’s be sure that, when we smirk at the wicked’s downfall, we’re not being the dumb ones.
*Randal Matheny, “Hate the Sinner,” Forthright,
by A. A. Neale