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Proverbs 24:17 (NASB) Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;

Proverbs 24:17 (KJV) Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

Psalm 54:4-7 (NASB)

4 Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is [a]the sustainer of my soul. 5 [b]He will recompense the evil to [c]my foes; [d]Destroy them in Your [e]faithfulness.

6 [f]Willingly I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks to Your name, O Lord, for it is good. 7 For [g]He has delivered me from all [h]trouble, And my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies.

Psalm 54:4-7 (NKJV)

4 Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who [a]uphold my life. 5 He will repay my enemies for their evil. [b]Cut them off in Your [c]truth.

6 I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good. 7 For He has delivered me out of all trouble; And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.

Reconciling biblical scripture verses dealing with imprecation and biblical scripture verses that emphasize blessing those who curse you and loving your enemies is challenging.

Also, I suppose that this question posting would have some similarties to this other posting ( ( Romans 12:14 "14 Bless those who persecute [d]you; bless and do Not curse.") can stand side-by-side withOut contradicting the imprecatory scripture ) because of the imprecatory nature of the biblical verses in question.

Keeping Proverbs 24:17 biblical verse in mind, how would we go about justifying or reasoning as to why the author of Psalm 54:5-7 would go about proclaiming that he is satisfied with his enemies were "destroyed" or "recompensed for their evil"?

(Side Note) IMHO, the KJV translation is a bit more preferable to me because it seems to emphasize God's desire on the fate of the enemies, and Not the author's desire or satisfaction on the fate of the enemies.

Psalm 54:4-7 (KJV)

4 Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul.

5 He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth.

6 I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good.

7 For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.

Keeping Proverbs 24:17 biblical verse in mind, how would we go about justifying or reasoning as to why the author of Psalm 54:5-7 would go about proclaiming that he is satisfied with his enemies were "destroyed" or "recompensed for their evil"?

Update: @dottard posting gave me a new perspective when it comes to the Psalm 54:7 verse. One viewpoint could be looking at subdued enemy with relief & withOut anymore fear, but Not gloating and/or Not in triumphalism also. Like a Violent Bear chasing you in the forest, and you are obviously in a fearful state but after God helps you physically defeat the bear, you look upon the subdued bear with relief & withOut anymore fear, but Not gloating and Not in triumphalism. You are just relieved that the battle with enemy is over, and you won. @dottard answer posting about the Hebrew is really interesting, and I just wanted to re-emphasize it here: ... in the Hebrew, words like "gloat", "satisfaction", "desire", "triumph", etc, do not exist - all such are interpretive. The Hebrew consists of just three words: וּ֝בְאֹיְבַ֗י רָאֲתָ֥ה עֵינִֽי׃ , = "and upon my enemies my eye has seen";

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    The enemies in question are not necessarily human (Ephesians 6:12; Galatians 5:17). As for David, he was a military leader, so destroying one's enemies on the battlefield was usually necessary. Most Christian denominations do not forbid wars of self defense either.
    – Lucian
    Jul 27 '20 at 20:15
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The Bible bans the practice of triumphalism in places like Obad 1:12, Prov 24:17. This is further strengthened by other statements that say something like, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord", eg, Heb 10:30, Rom 12:19, Deut 32:35, etc.

The Bible also contains many prayers asking that other do not gloat when we fall, eg, Obad 1:13, Micah 7:8, Ps 30:1, 35:24, 19, 38:16, 26, etc.

The problem in the OP's question is the last half of Ps 54:7 which many versions render as a type of triumphalism or gloating over the fall of enemies; eg,

  • NIV: my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.
  • ESV: my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.
  • NASB: my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies.
  • NKJV: my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.
  • HCSB: my eye has looked down on my enemies.
  • GWT: My eyes will gloat over my enemies.

... and so forth. However, in the Hebrew, words like "gloat", "satisfaction", "desire", "triumph", etc, do not exist - all such are interpretive. The Hebrew consists of just three words: וּ֝בְאֹיְבַ֗י רָאֲתָ֥ה עֵינִֽי׃ , = "and upon my enemies my eye has seen"; The literal versions give:

  • YLT: And on mine enemies hath mine eye looked!
  • BSB: and my eyes have stared down my foes. (Even this is slightly interpretive)

I agree with the implication in the OP's question that any hint of gloating over the fall of any enemy is to be deeply regretted. Even the LORD when he comes to destroy the wicked, He calls this His "alien task" (Isa 28:21), because the LORD takes no pleasure in the death of anyone (Eze 18:32), and no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Eze 33:11).

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  • Thx for mentioning that triumphalism and/or gloating are bad. One viewpoint could be looking at subdued enemy with relief & withOut anymore fear, but Not gloating and/or Not in triumphalism also. Like a Violent Bear chasing you in the forest, and you are obviously in a fearful state but after God helps you physically defeat the bear, you look upon the subdued bear with relief & withOut anymore fear, but Not gloating and Not in triumphalism. You are just relieved that the battle with enemy is over, and you won.
    – crazyTech
    Jul 31 '20 at 1:27
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    @crazyTech - one is just glad that the threat is past.
    – Dottard
    Jul 31 '20 at 1:35
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I think we need to expand the passages a bit and understand the type of literature we are reading in Psalms and in Proverbs.

The different literary styles of the bible

Proverbs is wisdom literature. It compares and contrasts actions and uses exaggeration to prove a point. They are straight forward and meant to make young men wise. Psalms are poems and songs for choirs. It is usually David pouring out his heart to God in full unabated honesty and sincerity.

Psalms 54 specifically was: For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time the Ziphites came and said to Saul, “We know where David is hiding.” To be accompanied by stringed instruments.

Psalms 54:4-7 ESV

Behold, God is my helper;
    the Lord is the upholder of my life.
5 He will return the evil to my enemies;
    in your faithfulness put an end to them.

6 With a free will offering I will sacrifice to you;
    I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
7 For he has delivered me from every trouble,
    and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

A commentary explained it this way:

Psalms 54:7 (ESV)

For He has delivered me out of all trouble; And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.

a. For He has delivered me out of all trouble: David confidently brought his request to God, knowing that many times before God had delivered him. God’s past faithfulness became the ground for future faith.

i. “This is the language of faith; this is the triumph of trust.” (Trapp)

ii. It is likely that David said this in faith, in anticipation of deliverance. When it came, it was remarkable. After the Ziphites betrayed David in 1 Samuel 23:19 Saul came very close to capturing him. When David was almost in Saul’s grasp, the king learned of a Philistine invasion and had to break off his pursuit (1 Samuel 23:27-28).

iii. “David lived a life of dangers and hair-breadth ‘scapes, yet was he always safe.” (Spurgeon)

b. My eye has seen its desire upon my enemies: David knew what it was like to defeat his enemies before (Goliath is one example); he trusted that he would know it again.

i. “As admiring God’s justice on his enemies, and love towards his people, he was well pleased with such a providence, and beheld it with comfort.” (Trapp)

ii. There is a sense in which David in this psalm prefigured his Great Son. Jesus was the anointed King yet to come into the fullness of His kingdom. He came to rescue and lead God’s people, and when He did, some among God’s people betrayed Him unto death. We can easily see these lines from the psalm in the mouth of Jesus, praying to His Father:

Save Me, O God, by Your name, Strangers have risen up against Me. Behold, God is My helper; He has delivered Me out of all trouble.

Proverbs 24:17-18 ESV

17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
    and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased,
    and turn away his anger from him.

Proverbs is more of a warning. Stay focused on God, not your enemies. If you focus on your enemies and you gloat over them getting beat, then God is going to stop and and deal with your hard heart and not your enemy.

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