"And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, 'Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.'"
Genesis 4: 23, 24
King James Version
"The Legacy of Lamech"
"How many are the pains of those who hunger for revenge! They have killed themselves even before they kill their enemies."
Catherine of Siena
"Revenge" – To inflict punishment in return for injury or insult. To seek or take vengeance for oneself. Retaliation.
Has there ever been a time in my life when I wanted to take revenge?
"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."
1 Peter 3: 9
Yesterday we took a look into the home-life of one of Cain's descendants – a man named Lamech, whose mark on history is that he was the first recorded polygamist. Greedy for more than one woman, the Bible tells us Lamech took two wives – Adah and Zillah. However, as we discovered, into this confusion, a young daughter named Naamah was born. A girl whose name meant, "Pleasantness." A bright light of joy was brought into a cavity of darkness.
One might think this bundle of joy would change the heart of Lamech. Not true! For in the verse after we meet Naamah – the pleasant child – Lamech is up to some nasty behavior. In the study of Genesis 4: 23 & 24, there are two thoughts on the interpretation of these passages. Neither one makes Lamech look like a nice guy. First, the text reads as if Lamech had murdered someone and came home justifying this act as self-defense to his wives. The second perspective is that this was a "bragger" proudly showing-off to his wives. Why? As theologians note, up to the time of Lamech, there isn't a record of men being people who engaged in war-like activities with spears and weapons of iron. But in Lamech's family, like father, like son. Lamech disobeyed God and showed no respect for God's gift of one wife to Adam, so with this as an example, Lamech's son Tubal-Cain became, as the Bible tells us in Genesis 4: 21, an artificer in metals. Basically, Tubal-Cain invented the sword. This is how the Biblical scholar A. K. Helmbold describes the situation: "Cain could be avenged sevenfold, but with the sword Lamech could exact seventy sevenfold, going beyond that limited vengeance to exact equivalents. In either case Lamech, drunk with self-confidence and self-sufficiency, was not willing to wait for God's justice to operate. He did not trust God, but rather his weapons became his gods. In Lamech, Cain's trend toward obstinate estrangement from God reached its climax."
Disobedience at a tree in Eden led to disobedience by a son, Cain, who murdered his brother. Then from generation to generation, disobedience prevailed, culminating in the revenge-filled life of Lamech.
If ever there was a story of a family who lived under the cloud of the consequences of sin – it was Lamech, his two wives and four children.
I don't think it should be lost on you and me that one of the worst consequences of all this disobedient and willful behavior – "I'll do it MY WAY!" -- was the spirit of revenge taking hold and polluting the human heart. If Lamech thought his arrogant, revengeful nature would bring "joy" to his family he was sorely disappointed. As Mignon McLaughlin correctly wrote: "Revenge leads to an empty fullness, like eating dirt."
The greatly admired Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that: "The old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind." This is exactly what happened to Cain's "branch" of the Adam family tree. So busy taking revenge, Cain and his descendents became totally "blind" to God's leading in their lives.
As we shall see in the next three days, things didn't have to be such a mess! God, from the very beginning, gave us the power of choice – the ability to choose light or darkness. In stark contrast to Cain and his relatives, we'll see that the family members of Seth, some with the same name as Cain's descendants, chose light instead of darkness, and what a difference it made, not only in their own lives but also in the lives of their daughters and sons.
"Revenge is often like biting a dog
because the dog bit you."
"Circle me Lord
Keep protection near
And danger afar
Circle me Lord
Keep hope within
Keep doubt without
Circle me Lord
Keep light near
And darkness afar
Circle me Lord
Keep peace within
Keep evil out."
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus