Proverbs 11:23 The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
This made me think as I was reading. The word “desire” is used much more strongly in the Bible than we use it today, much like the term “want.” Many times this word is used, it is denoting a deep, fleshly attraction for something that goes beyond the cursory meaning that we attribute to it in modern times. For instance:
Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
The word “desire” and its derivatives are used a total of 181 times in the Bible. What’s unique about this proverb, however, is its parallel. The righteous is said to have only good desires, in that he deeply and strongly wants good things, but not only for himself, as we will see next, but for others. The opposite of the righteous man’s good desire is the wicked man’s expectation and desiring of wrath.
Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
The word “wrath” and its derivatives show up 201 times in Scripture. In this passage in Romans, we are told that the place for wrath is God’s, and that we are to surrender that place, the position of meting out wrath, solely to God. The obvious statement here, though rough to apply personally, is that a righteous man seeks only good for others, while the desire of vengeance upon someone is wicked.
Now, this all sounds fine and good until a trespass is committed against us personally. Then, all of a sudden, we find all sorts of ways to justify an “expectation” of wrath toward someone because of the hurt they have caused us. After all, we’re human, and every person wants the perpetrator of his or her wrongs to suffer for their wrongdoing. Yet, the reality is that a righteous person will seek the good of everyone, and will desire that good things will happen for people, even those that have hurt them.
One of the simplest ways to begin desiring good for people is to pray for the salvation of those that have wronged us, because what could be better than Salvation? It may be many years of spiritual growth before we’re able to honestly desire God’s blessings upon those that have truly and deeply hurt us, but we can start by desiring that they be saved. We all have growth that needs to be accomplished, and some areas are simply more difficult than others.
So, today, perhaps try considering that the deep, strong desire of the righteous man is always good: both for himself and those close to him, of course, but also to everyone around him, even his enemies. Wrath is God’s responsibility: let us just continue to desire good always, and let God determine who needs wrath. After all, how often do we deserve God’s wrath?