Transformation Garden - July 5, 2009


July 5                                                                               

“So Samson went and caught 300 foxes or jackals and took torches and turning the foxes tail to tail, he put a torch between each pair of tails. And when he had set the torches ablaze, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines, and he burned up the shocks and the standing grain, along with the olive orchards.  Then the Philistines said, ‘Who has done this?’  And they were told, ‘Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he (the Timnite) has taken his (Samson’s) wife and has given her to his companion.’  And the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire.  And Samson said to them, ‘If this is the way you act, surely I will take revenge on you.…’” 
Judges 14: 4-7, Amplified Bible


“The Futility of Revenge”

“How many are the pains of those who hunger for revenge! They have killed themselves even before they kill their enemies.” 
Catherine of Siena

Have I ever taken revenge on another?

How did it make me feel?

Did my actions solve the problem?

“The smallest revenge will poison the soul.” 
Jewish Proverb


“Revenge is the abject pleasure of an abject mind.” 
Decimus Juvenal

“Abject:” The absolute worst or most miserable.  Wretched.  Pathetic.  Degrading.

There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in our world right now – especially economically.  At the hands of a greedy few, we have watched the life savings of innocent victims stripped away.  While the powerful gloat and like bullys throw sand in our faces, the victims of financial ruin try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

As I’ve watched television reports on the recent financial meltdown, it has been interesting to note some of the ways people have suggested they get repayment or restitution for what was taken from them.

Tonight on the news, one television pundit even suggested, I’m assuming as a joke, “hanging” the perpetrators of financial mismanagement in Times Square in New York City.

With this scenario as a background, my question is this. “When someone wrongs us, how far should we go to even the score?”

A number of years ago, my husband and I had someone commit a very serious act against the company we owned.  We had many options open to us which would all have been legal and appropriate to pursue.  However, for the first time in my life, I was faced with the hard question, “What do you do to settle the score?”

This has been a question that plagued a lot of people in the Bible who watched evil doers get by with seemingly blatant acts of unmerciful terror and yet in apparent silence, God did nothing.

In our story today, the self-focused Samson brought a heap of trouble on himself and his new bride. In a fit of rage, after leaving the wedding feast, Samson returned to make up with his bride only to find out that his new father-in-law had given her to someone else in marriage.  Now before we’re too hard on Samson’s father-in-law-to-be, let’s think about the fact that at the wedding feast, Samson had, in front of the guests, called his wife a “heifer.”  Excuse me, but if my dad had ever found out some guy called me his “plowed cow,” that guy had better have speedy running shoes on because my dad would not have been pleased.  Just the fact Samson would talk about his wife so disrespectfully should give us a huge clue as to the treatment Miss Timnah had to look forward to from her future husband.  Usually, in the wooing time, the man, in this case Samson, would try to be on his best behavior.  WRONG!! Before the wedding was even over, Samson had taken to demeaning the very woman whom a few days before “pleased” him so.  She was the girl he absolutely had to have. 

Over-wrought, Samson allowed his temper to ignite and he tied together foxes by their tails, lit them and turned them loose in the Philistines’ fields. Not only was Samson cruel to his wife, he was inhumane to God’s creatures, too.

And where did Samson’s revengeful behavior get him?  Did he even the score?  Absolutely not!  Instead, the Philistines turned up the heat by burning Samson’s bride and father-in-law.  Death by fire.

An innocent family was murdered, victims of Samson’s uncontrolled desire to get even.  Revenge!  Our human attempt to take things into our own hands as we try to balance the scales.  When I read the words penned by Roman poet, Decimus Juvenal, that “revenge is the abject pleasure of an abject mind,” I wasn’t certain exactly what he meant.  That is until I did a little research on the word “abject” which means, “the most miserable and pathetically degrading.”  What we have then is that revenge is concocted by a miserably pathetic mind.

This is a sad commentary on the type of man Samson turned out to be. No wonder he ended up being disrespected himself by the very people God called him to defeat.

Who knows what the result would have been if rather than taking revenge, a spirit of heavenly kindness and forgiveness had filled Samson’s life.  May we learn from the lessons Samson left behind.

“The noblest vengeance is to forgive.” 
Henry G. Bohn


 why is it so difficult 
to make peace with each other?  
No wonder there are wars, 
It is pride that holds my mouth tight shut, 
a childish feeling 
that I am not the one 
who should apologize? 
It wasn’t my fault. 
In these flare-ups 
What does it matter whose fault it is? 
The only thing that matters 
is love and harmony. 
Lord, turning my back in 
anger is weakness, 
It reduces me as a human being. 
Give me the courage, 
The stature 
To say, ‘I’m sorry.’” 
Frank Topping

Your friend, 
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author 
When A Woman Meets Jesus 
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