Deuteronomy 19:16-21 (JDV)
Deuteronomy 19:16 “If a malicious witness testifies against someone accusing him of a crime,
Deuteronomy 19:17 the two people in the dispute are to stand in the presence of Yahveh before the priests and judges in authority at that time.
Deuteronomy 19:18 The judges are to make a careful investigation, and notice if the witness turns out to be a liar who has falsely testified against his brother,
Deuteronomy 19:19 you must do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from you.
Deuteronomy 19:20 Then everyone else will hear and be afraid, and they will never again do anything evil like this among you.
Deuteronomy 19:21 Do not show pity: throat for throat, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot.
No one admires a person who uses the law to take advantage of someone else. How much more evil is it when the law in question is the biblical covenant law. People bristle at such regulations as are represented in 19:21, but usually because they ignore the context. In this context, there is no question that the wrong could have been prevented. It was a premeditated attempt to abuse the covenant in order to harm someone else, and benefit from that harm. If people are allowed to do that with immunity, the covenant itself becomes a workshop for crime.
But in a different context, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” just becomes a slogan justifying personal revenge. Jesus rightly condemned that, because it too was an abuse of the scriptures (Matthew 5:38-39). Instead, Jesus teaches that we should love and pray for those who wrong us.
Respecting what God has said entails living according to his precepts, not using them to our advantage. Sometimes, the right thing to do is walk away praying for the one who damaged your eye and a broke your tooth.
Lord, show us how to show love even to those who wrong us, and leave the vengeance to you.