We have seen that the law had to come, and that minimised but partly legitimised revenge, although it was not meant to. It was meant to give redress only.
But, despite this, mankind persisted in revenge on a grand scale, and we have only to look at Samson to see this. Samson is our type for revenge, because that is more or less what his life consisted of - and the sad part was that he was such a man of God called a Nazarite who was called to free his people from bondage by the Philistines. Instead he brought them into further bondage.
He started off by killing thirty Philistines because they 'had plowed with his heifer' - just because they got the clue to his riddle from his wife. He goes even further - he left his wife, which her father then gave to his friend.
When he visited his former wife some time later, her father would not give her back to him, which was her father's right, so he took three hundred foxes, tied them tail to tail with firebrands, and pointed them into the standing corn of the Philistines, thereby burning off all their shocks, corn, vineyards and olives.
The Philistines then burned his wife and her father, and Samson says these two interesting and significant vengeful things :
Jdg 15:7 And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease
Jdg 15:11 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. ... and this is why Jesus Christ said many centuries later : Mat 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Firstly, revenge has no end, and Samson would not stop here as he said he would. So he smote them with a great slaughter.
Secondly, there is no equity in the revenge of the two sides. The revenge of Samson was considerably more violent than what they have done unto him. Someone once said that if you want to kill someone out of revenge, you will have to kill two people, the second being yourself - and so it was with Samson.
When Samson was bound by his people Judah, and delivered to the Philistines, who shouted at him, he loosened himself from the new cords they had bound him with, took a new jawbone of an ass and killed a thousand Philistines.
When he was finally taken by the Philistines, they took out his eyes and put him in prison. For this he killed three thousand of them, as he said at the time: 'As revenge for only one of his two eyes', but in the process had to kill himself.
And this is the story of a man who was called by God to deliver Judah from the Philistines who had kept them in bondage for forty years.
What do we learn from this?
1. If we are called by God to do something, then do it with all expedition. Do not get side-tracked in minor feuds and revenge. It takes you away from your mission.
2. The power and talents God gives us, are given unto us for the execution of our mission, not to fight each other. This is so true for the churches and Christians of today.
3. Do not get involved in revenge - the end of that is your own death.
4. Do you think you are not avenging yourself? Think again. All our acts are interspersed with small acts of vengeance like : 'He did not greet me very friendly yesterday, so I will ignore him (for the rest of my life - seventy times seven times). He did not help me yesterday, so I will never help him again ... and so on .. and so on ... revenge is an upward spiralling violent storm with no end but death.
5. And this is the reason Christ came to fulfil the Law - not to keep it. If He wanted to keep it, He might not have healed people on the Sunday, but if he came to fulfil it, He would say:
To the woman who was taken in adultery : Joh 8:10 ... he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? v:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee.
To His disciples and the multitudes :Luk 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, v:28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. v:29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
Unto Peter : Mat 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? v:22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
At the sermon of the mount: Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. v:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Mat 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: v:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
6. It seems from the above piece, that the Law became more strict, but it is not so. We only learn that Grace became unbounded.
7. Did Samson fulfil the purpose God called him for? No. He was too full of revenge. Neither was he ever able to stop the revenge game, once he had entered that fray - and his ultimate reward was bondage, humiliation and death. What an Old Testament hero he would not have been, had he delivered his people from the bondage of the Philistines with the inspiration he received from God? He used that inspiration to break his own cords, rather than that of his people.