Judges 15:11b “I merely did to them what they did to me.”
The Judges we are reading about in
this part of the Daily Walk are not the same sort of judges we have in our
courts today. The Judges in
with the later kings of
it comes to leading
What we see here is a Biblical principle being played out. Both in the Old and New Testaments it is quite clear that God’s justice and mercy are perfectly combined in the principle that we are treated according to the way we treat others. The measure you use is the measure you receive, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:2, just one of many passages bearing such a message. It’s even in the Lord’s Prayer… “forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us.” So, because that’s the way it works, it is in everyone’s best interest to treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves, not simply to give what we get. We call it the “golden rule” for a reason, and it applies to both individuals and to nations.
The principle that we reap what we sow is both scary and encouraging, depending on how we behave. If we are nasty to others, we’ll get it right back. If we demand that others hold to the letter of the law, the same will be expected of us. But if we break the cycle, as Jesus encourages, and love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us; if we forgive wrongs instead of avenging them; if we show mercy to those who don’t deserve it; it seems that God is taking notes and will decide what to do with us and our transgressions according to the decisions we have made about others.
When Samson’s father-in-law gives his wife to someone else, Samson responds by burning his fields. They respond by killing the woman. He responds by slaughtering more Philistines; they respond by coming to take Samson prisoner; he responds by killing a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey; and so it goes on forever…quite literally as the descendants of both nations still fight each other today after more than 3,000 years. The Samson story gives us a nice foil to the story of Jesus, who responds to his own brutal execution with the words, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” That act saved the world and we now look to Jesus as the greatest of all the Judges.
And so the choice is before us. We can go by the old eye-for-an-eye standard and end up killing both ourselves and our enemies; or we can adopt the more difficult way of Jesus and return evil with good. It is just important to remember that the response we choose is the response we are electing to receive for ourselves.
God of justice, help us to learn mercy and become more like you, for all our sakes. Amen.
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