Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament. Yet hidden away in its brief record is a vital question that affects us all: How should we respond when we see an enemy experience misfortune? The prophet Obadiah ministered during the time that the city of Jerusalem was under fierce attack by the armies of Babylon. The neighbors of Jerusalem, the Edomites, were actually cheering on the enemy armies to destroy and kill (Ps. 137:7-9).
Ironically, these hurtful jeers were spoken by blood relatives of the Jews. They were descendants of Jacob, and the Edomites were descendants of Esau. Obadiah condemned the Edomites for gloating: "You should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity; nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction (Obad. 1:12).
If someone has repeatedly been hurtful to us, it is easy to give in to vindictive pleasure when they experience misfortune. But Scripture admonishes us, "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do net let your heart be glad when he stumbles" (Prov. 24:17). Instead, we are to maintain an attitude of compassion and forgiveness, and trust God to bring justice in His time. Love for God can be measured by the love we show for our worst enemy.