Will revenge actually make you feel better?

Have you ever been really, really angry with someone—so angry that you loathed even thinking about that person? This was the situation with Peninnah. You can read about her troubled marriage in 1 Samuel 1. The situation was rather odd as she was the second wife of a man who loved the other one better than her. What a terrible situation! The whole thing was not God’s design for marriage, but was not unexpected for the times in which they were living (see Judges 21:25). So what happened? Peninnah hated the other woman because of her husband’s favoritism and decided to inflict grief on her to make herself feel better. But did it help her cope with the situation? Not hardly.

In his commentary on the subject (written in 1887), W. G. Blaikie points out the lack of fulfillment when an angry person tries to take matters into her own hands.

“Yes, my friends, if you accept the offices of sin, if you make passion the instrument of your purposes, if you make it your business to sting and to stab those who in some way cross your path, you may succeed for the moment, and you may experience whatever of satisfaction can be found in gloated revenge. But know this, that you have been cherishing a viper in your bosom that will not content itself with fulfilling your desire. It will make itself a habitual resident in your heart, and distill its poison over it. It will make it impossible for you to know anything of the sweetness of love, the serenity of a well-ordered heart, the joy of trust, the peace of heaven. You will be like the troubled sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. You will find the truth of that solemn word, ‘There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.'”

Blaikie, W. G., The First Book of Samuel, (Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1978), 8.

Suffice it to say that revenge is best left in God’s hands (Rom. 12:19). Peninnah poured out her derision on the other woman and caused her great pain, but was she better off in the end? Not hardly. And what about the other woman. You may remember her name—it was Hannah. Under the constant ridicule of her adversary, she became depressed and despondent. But things changed drastically when she took her problems to the Lord. She poured out her heart to the Lord in prayer and was eventually blessed with happiness and fulfillment.

Two women in a difficult situation: The first woman poured out her anger on the other but never found the satisfaction she desired. The second woman poured out her heart to the Lord and found the blessing of the Lord. The lesson should be obvious. You will never resolve a problem by hurting others, so let God handle your problems. Turn them over to him and discover the peace and happiness found only in Him.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7