Inspired by Falling Asleep in the Lap of Delilah: Lessons on Finishing Well from the Life of Samson By Philip E. Morrison

The Bible is clear about revenge in Romans 12:19. Revenge belongs to God, not us. We constantly try to take charge when it is not ours for the taking. God’s response is always appropriate because his revenge entails justice and righteousness, two qualities which humans will forever fall short of. Human revenge stems from an evil place within our hearts and it is not glorifying to God. Revenge hurts not only others, but also ourselves. Such malice is not from or of God.

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,”
says the Lord.

ROMANS 12:19

            For example, Samson’s God-given purpose was lost within a dark sea of vengeance. Samson’s entire life was taken over by pride and selfishness. Samson forgot his “why” that was taught so well by his family. Revenge became a god in Samson’s life. A mindset of vengeance was at the centre of everything that he did. Even at the end of his life, Samson prayed and asked God to wrongfully help him gain his final revenge on his enemies (Judges 16:28). He had been conditioned to get the last word. Human desires replaced God’s right-of-way in Samson’s life, and it took a turn for the worse.

“What is the warning for us? Why did revenge become the driving force of Samson’s life? It was because he substituted his cause in place of his calling. Instead of serving God out of a devoted relationship with him, he served himself.” –Dr Philip E. Morrison

            For Samson, revenge entailed a great deal of violence. In our case, revenge is much more than just violence. Simply NOT taking action is not enough. We can take revenge in our hearts, and that’s just the same as using violent tools outwardly. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us higher by commanding us to love our enemies.

But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

ROMANS 5: 28 – 29

In this verse, Jesus revises the original law to make it better according to its original intention. Jesus’s was the perfect example of a Christian mindset toward revenge. He treated others how he would want to be treated. He gave out grace and commanded us to do the same. Not only are we not to get revenge like Samson did, but we are to love those who we think don’t deserve it. Not getting revenge involves intentionality, not passivity.

            Christians are to be known as the people who always go the extra mile to show others the love of Christ. We actually have to act upon our words. The Golden Rule is not satisfied from a negative, inactive sense (Matthew 7:12). Jesus didn’t just sit back and not do bad things, he stepped away from comfort and intentionally loved his enemies.

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Some manuscripts add Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who persecute you!

ROMANS 5: 43 – 44

It’s easier to keep our revenge to ourselves, to stay out of it, and to “call it good” by not acting upon our thoughts. Jesus debunks that lie by saying that even thoughts of revenge are a sin and displeasing to God. We are called to replace revenge with love and grace.

            We have an advantage in that we can learn from Samson’s mistakes. We have read his story and we can clearly see how much destruction and danger revenge can bring about. It’s almost like an addiction. It is the ultimate joy and forgiveness robber. However, Jesus has told us word-for-word how to handle revenge in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s much easier said than done, but practice and prayer will act as a guide. Revenge is a part of human nature, but Jesus’s way is always better. It’s time to put an end to revenge.

            Has this blog opened your eyes? Do you struggle with revenge like Samson? You are not alone. Confess that sin to God and ask him to help you overcome the temptation to get back at those who persecute you.

Morrison’s thoughtful insights and powerful mediations on the life of Samson, Israel’s notorious strong-man judge, and just how he ended up falling asleep in Delilah’s lap, can guide you in preserving your relationship with God and with others. Get his book, Falling Asleep in the Lap of Delilah, and learn more.

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