If you’re like me, you probably spent the weekend binge-watching the second season of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix. The first four episodes pit Daredevil against one of Marvel’s most iconic anti-heroes—The Punisher. After the mob guns down his wife and children for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Frank Castle utilizes his military training to exact revenge. Now serving as judge, jury, and executioner, The Punisher wages a one man war against those who have done him wrong, leaving bullet-riddled bodies in his wake.
Despite his murderous wrath, Punisher is actually a likable character. We relate to his loss. We understand his thirst for revenge. The desire to "get even" seems to be woven into the human psyche. Revenge and retaliation are natural instincts. In an unusual story in the Old Testament, however, David shows us a better way.
David’s victory over the hulking Philistine, Goliath, won him the admiration and affection of everyone in Israel; everyone, that is, except King Saul. Saul saw David’s valor and victory as a threat to his throne and, thus, sought repeatedly to kill David. But when faced with the opportunity to pay Saul back for all the harm he’d done, David choose a different path. He showed Saul mercy and spared his life, then announced: “May the Lord judge between us. Perhaps the Lord will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you” (1 Samuel 24:12 NLT).
Rather than take revenge on his enemy, David put the matter into God’s hands. We all have a Saul in our lives. It might be an employer who unfairly fired you. It might be a spouse who abandoned you. It might be a mom or dad who failed you. It could be a friend who betrayed you. Whatever the case, you now live in the backwash of mistreatment. You have been “done wrong,” and maybe you’re waiting for your moment to get even. Instead, do what David did. Trust God to be the judge.
In the 2004 movie, The Punisher, a friend tells Frank, “Vaya con Dios, Castle. Go with God.” Frank Castle’s reply is revealing: “God's going to sit this one out.” That’s what happens when we take revenge. Payback removes God from the equation. But the Bible says: “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19 NLT).
God occupies the only seat on Heaven’s Supreme Court. He wears the robe and refuses to share the gavel. Only God dispenses perfect punishment. Vengeance is His job. So leave your enemies in God’s hands.