In Psalm 11 I was reminded of the Lord’s providential care of His children. Not only does He see their works and test them (vv. 4-5), but He also sees the works of the unrighteous and, instead of testing, judges them. The righteous are proved to be righteous by the testing of the Lord; the unrighteous are proved to be unrighteous by their deeds. The wicked despise the righteous and seek to destroy them (v. 2), but it is the Lord who is their protection, who “rain(s) coals on the wicked” (v. 6).
This reminded me of Rom. 12:19-21, where Paul writes to Christians that they are not to take vengeance, but to leave wrath God who will repay them. Rather, believers are to do good to their enemies, “for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head”(12:20). I cannot help but wonder if there is a connection between the two passages with regard to the burning coals. It would seem that there is. When we take matters into our own hands we are leaving the Lord out. But when we follow His command to love our enemies and to even pray for them and clothe them, we are in essence giving them over to God. The phrase “burning coals” typically refers to judgment of some sort, not a feeling of guilt given to the enemy.
This is a hard teaching. I often want to see results when it comes to my enemies, but God does things in His own timing. It is good to be reminded of the need to pray for those who spitefully use me. By doing so, I’m not only doing what the word commands, but I’m also allowing the Holy Spirit to change my heart toward the unrighteous. Only by the power of God can I love the unrighteous. It is only fitting that Christ gives us this command, since we too were once among the unrighteous, murderers at heart. But God saw fit to redeem us and now He is showing to us what it means to love the wicked. May He continually grant me the grace to do so.