Proverbs 20:22

ESV Do not say, "I will repay evil"; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.
NIV Do not say, "I’ll pay you back for this wrong!" Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.
NASB Do not say, 'I will repay evil'; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.
CSB Don’t say, "I will avenge this evil!" Wait on the Lord, and he will rescue you.
NLT Don’t say, 'I will get even for this wrong.' Wait for the Lord to handle the matter.
KJV Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee.
NKJV Do not say, “I will recompense evil”; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.

What does Proverbs 20:22 mean?

Solomon advises us not to seek revenge (Proverbs 24:29). Rather, believers should rest assured that God will settle all accounts. To "wait" for God's intervention requires faithful patience. This is not easy, but it's critically important. This counsel agrees with the teaching in Deuteronomy 32:35–36. Moses delivered these words to Israel: "'Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.' For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants." Paul expresses the same sentiment in his writings (Romans 12:19).

When Jesus died on the cross, He did not take vengeance on those who crucified Him. Instead, He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Peter remembered that when Jesus was insulted during His pre-crucifixion trial, He did not lash out in return, or offer threats when He was suffering (1 Peter 2:23). Instead, He "continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23). Jesus demonstrated the ideal to which we should all aspire (1 Peter 2:21; 3:9).

There are practical reasons to avoid retribution, as well. Taking revenge tends to create a vicious circle. Someone is wronged, so they retaliate. The victim of that vengeance sees it as unjust, so they take further revenge. The struggle to "settle the score" never settles anything. This escalation into a feud can last for years, or even generations (Proverbs 17:13).
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