Throughout the Bible, there are many examples of people who have suffered or been victimized in some way. As Christians, we can draw lessons and encouragement from how these biblical figures responded to the injustices and trials they faced. In this post, we will explore some prominent stories of victims in the Bible and what we can learn from them. Though they went through difficult circumstances, they provide models of faith, endurance, and trust in God.
- Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers but later forgave them and saved his people.
- Job suffered immense personal tragedy but still praised God.
- Hannah was bullied for being barren but kept praying and was blessed with a son.
- David was pursued by Saul but refused to kill his enemy when he had the chance.
- Jesus, the ultimate innocent victim, endured crucifixion but asked God to forgive those responsible.
Joseph the Victim of Betrayal
One of the most dramatic accounts of a biblical victim is the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Joseph was the beloved son of Jacob, born when his father was old. Jacob cherished Joseph more than his other sons, making them jealous. To make matters worse, Joseph had dreams that implied his brothers would one day bow down to him (Genesis 37:5-11).
When the older brothers were away tending the flocks, Jacob sent Joseph to check on them. The brothers seized this chance to get rid of the sibling they hated. First they threw Joseph into an empty cistern, then sold him to some traders headed to Egypt (Genesis 37:12-36). To cover up their crime, they dipped Joseph’s robe in animal blood and told their father he had been killed by wild animals.
Joseph was taken to Egypt as a slave. He suffered greatly, being resold several times. When he ended up as a servant in Potiphar’s house, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of making advances on her. As a result, Joseph was thrown into prison (Genesis 39:1-20).
Joseph had every right to become resentful and vengeful after being betrayed by his brothers and wrongly accused. However, he never took revenge. Later, when the brothers came to Egypt begging for food during a famine, Joseph forgave them (Genesis 42-45). He told them, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Joseph saw God’s sovereignty even in his suffering. As a victim, he overturned evil with forgiveness.
Job’s Response to Tragedy
The Old Testament book of Job provides another portrait of an innocent sufferer. Job was a righteous, wealthy man with a large family. Suddenly, all his children were killed, his possessions destroyed, and his health ravaged by disease (Job 1-2). Three of his friends came to “comfort” him, but they only condemned him as deserving punishment for secret sins. Job knew he was innocent, yet his friends kept arguing he must be guilty.
This blame from friends added to Job’s agony. He felt confused, asking why God allowed such misery. Yet for all his lamenting, Job never cursed God (Job 1:22). Even when his wife told him to “Curse God and die!”, Job remained faithful (Job 2:9). At his lowest, he proclaimed, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
After arguing with his friends, Job encountered God Himself. The Lord rebuked Job’s friends for falsely accusing him. God vindicated Job by showering him with twice as many possessions, children, and years of life as before (Job 42:10-17). Though Job suffered terribly as an innocent victim, he kept his integrity and God blessed him in the end.
Hannah Persecuted for Barrenness
In 1 Samuel 1, we read about Hannah, one of the wives of Elkanah. She was miserable because the other wife, Peninnah, had children but Hannah was barren. To make matters worse, “Peninnah provoked her severely, to make her miserable” (1 Samuel 1:6). Peninnah constantly taunted Hannah about her childless state.
This cruel mistreatment caused Hannah intense grief. When the family went to worship at the Tabernacle, “she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Samuel 1:10). Out of compassion, Hannah’s husband tried to comfort her. But only God could heal her pain.
Hannah poured out her heart to the Lord, begging for a son and vowing to dedicate him to God’s service. The priest Eli saw her praying so fervently that he first thought she was drunk. After listening to Hannah’s prayer request, Eli blessed her, saying “Go in peace. And may the God of Israel grant your petition” (1 Samuel 1:17). God honored Hannah’s faith, giving her a son named Samuel. Though Peninnah had bullied her, Hannah found hope in prayer.
David Spares Saul
One of the most famous rivalries in the Bible is that between David and Saul. David was anointed by Samuel to be the next king over Israel. Saul became intensely jealous and spent years pursuing David to kill him. Though David had multiple chances to take Saul’s life, he refused to harm the Lord’s anointed king.
Once when Saul was hunting David in the wilderness, David sneaked up and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Yet afterward “David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe” (1 Samuel 24:5). He did not feel right about even this small act against the man trying to kill him. Another time, David snuck into Saul’s camp while he slept and took his spear. But rather than hurt Saul, David shouted to wake Saul and confront him. David asked why Saul kept pursuing him without cause (1 Samuel 26:18).
Though David was the victim of Saul’s aggression, he spared his enemy’s life twice. He was willing to suffer injustice rather than retaliate. David respected that Saul was still God’s anointed king. As he told his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him” (1 Samuel 24:6). He trusted God to deal justly with Saul in His timing.
Jesus the Innocent Sufferer
The most poignant example of an innocent victim in Scripture is Jesus Christ. Though He was the perfect Son of God who never sinned, Jesus was despised, rejected, betrayed, tortured, and killed. The Jewish leaders envied His popularity and pretended He was a threat to their power. Judas betrayed Him to the authorities for mere money. The Roman governor Pilate knew Jesus was not guilty but sentenced Him to death anyway to please the crowd.
Even when nailed to the cross in agony, Jesus exemplified mercy and forgiveness. He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). He promised paradise to a repentant criminal crucified alongside Him. Jesus willingly gave His life as a sacrifice to save His people from sin and death. Though completely innocent, He submitted to suffering and evil to accomplish God’s greater purposes.
The redemptive power of Jesus’ sacrifice gives hope to every victim. No matter how much you have suffered or how unfair your circumstances, Jesus identifies with your pain. When you feel forsaken, you can cling to God’s promise that He will never leave you. Jesus suffered once for all to free us from the penalty of sin. Because of His resurrection, we have power to overcome injustice through faith and forgiveness.
The Bible contains many examples of victims who suffered due to the sinful actions of others. Yet we do not have to be defined by what is done to us. The stories of Joseph, Job, Hannah, David, and Jesus demonstrate how we can respond with grace, trust God’s sovereignty, and find redemption in all circumstances. If you have experienced injustice, betrayal, or abuse, I pray their examples give you courage to keep moving forward. God can bring beauty from ashes. Rather than become bitter, keep your heart humble and open to His healing. None of your painful experiences are wasted in God’s plan. When you feel like a victim, remember that you have a Savior who was wounded for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5). May His comfort, peace and strength be with you.