Revenge – Tooth for a Tooth? Or Teeth for a Tooth?
Revenge – Tooth for a Tooth? Or Teeth for a Tooth?
Judges Chapter 15: 8-14 8 And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam. 9 Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi. 10 And the men of Judah said, why are ye come up against us? And they answered, to bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us. 11 Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? What is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, as they did unto me, so have I done unto them. 12 And they said unto him, we are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves. 13 And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock. 14 And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.
Verse 8 – What is meant by “hip and thigh”? I think it means from the top to the bottom – Samson went hell to leather – he went all out to beat them brutally and then he slaughtered them to avenge the death of his wife – this he did with his bare hands – remember he has supernatural strength. Samson has only just begun to carry out that which God had called him to do in his overthrowing of the Philistines oppression. He didn’t complete the job because he fell – he abused the ordinance of being a Nazarite from the womb to the tomb – it would be a King David that the LORD would raise up to totally annihilate and eliminate the oppression of the Philistines against the chosen people of God – the Israelites.
Are we to feel sorry for the Philistines because of Samson did to them? Well – check this out. For them to take his wife and her parents and burn them alive was just pure evil in every sense of the word, and this is what the Philistines were like back in the day. They were pure evil. There is this disproportionate irony in the sense that Samson burned their crops, but they burned his wife. This retaliation – this revenge goes contrary to the teachings of Scripture both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Samson’s hands are not clean in this. He has lowered himself to the level of the Philistines by virtue of how he is going to mete out his own revenge – he is going to take matters into his own hands and mete out his own justice. The problem with revenge is that it becomes a bottomless pit – there is no end to it because one always has to one-up the enemy every time you seek to take revenge. When you retaliate you are going to do more than what they did – you are not just going to get even – revenge doesn’t just get even, or attempt to even the score. NO! Revenge wants to inflict more injury than that which the one taking the revenge was the recipient of.
Exodus 21:23-25 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
The above Scripture says that the vengeance that one seeks should be like for like – i.e. someone knocks out your tooth – knock out their tooth. What happened in Samson’s case is that they knocked out his “tooth” (singular) but he took out “teeth” (plural). Don’t take “teeth” (plural) for a “tooth” (singular). Had Samson not taken matters into his own hands in the first place, by taking teeth – wiping out and slaughtering the Philistines – for a tooth – because they burnt his wife and her parents – this whole sorry incident and the carnage that followed would never have happened – it could have been avoided. There is never a time when anger resolves a problem. Anger can only identify a problem.
Verses 9-11 – The men of Judah take three thousand men to get Samson who was only one man. That speaks to Samson’s supernatural strength. He could possibly take all three thousands of them no problem. It also tells us that they were afraid of Samson and they feared him in much the same way that they were in fear of the Philistines. This is nothing but fear – the fear of man. Samson by contrast has no fear whatsoever.
Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
If one is in fear of man, it is a good indication that one doesn’t fear God. And if one truly fears God – this is a good indication that one would not fear man.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Fear is the antithesis of faith. Fear and faith cannot coexist with one another.
Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Verses 12-14 – Woven into the fabric of theses verses we have a beautiful portrait of the Saviour on the canvas of typology. Notice here that it is the men of Judah from the tribe of Judah who would ultimately be the ones in the end to betray Samson who would be their deliverer. It would be Judah who would betray Joseph – who was also a picture of Jesus Christ. Just as Judas would betray Jesus – Judah the tribe of Judah – but God would still have the Saviour come from the Lion of the tribe of Judah – that is called God’s grace and God’s mercy.
The Philistines are overjoyed. They have finally got their man – bound and all, so they had nothing to fear. But was their sheer joy and elation premature? After all – it is Samson that we are talking about. Underestimate his strength at your peril! The Philistines were shouting, because they thought they would surely be able to kill Samson. They were many, and he was just one man. They had overlooked the power of God within Samson. Look at “the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him”. God and Samson are a majority, regardless of how many they are. The ropes were nothing to him with the power of God within him. They broke easily and fell from his hands.