The Hatfields and the McCoys


Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 16:18-20

Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 16:20, NIV

NOBODY KNOWS FOR sure how it started.

Maybe Jethro Hatfield hornswoggled Abner McCoy out of his favorite goat. Maybe Clem McCoy failed to tip his hat to Betty Jo Hatfield. Maybe Homer Hatfield cheated Milo McCoy out of the Eastern Kentucky Horseshoe Championship.

No matter how it got started, the feud between the Hatfield family and the McCoy clan of the Appalachian area of eastern Kentucky became one of the bloodiest and most famous feuds of modern times. Over the course of about thirty years, from 1860 to 1890, at least twenty people were killed by one side or the other. By the time the animosity faded, no one was really sure how and why it all started.

The tragic feud between the Hatfields and McCoys illustrates one way God’s commands are intended to protect us. You see, back when God first issued the Ten Commandments to his people on Mount Sinai, feuds like the one between the Hatfields and the McCoys were fairly commonplace. An injustice committed by one person would often be avenged against his entire family, resulting in a bitter and deadly blood feud. If Abib accused Ibrahim of selling spoiled goat cheese, Ibrahim might have sought revenge by slaughtering Abib’s entire flock. If Gad’s ox gored Laban’s son, Laban might have descended on Gad’s tents some night and killed every male in his family.

God’s commands to his people to treat others justly not only helped people understand what God was like but also protected them from revenge and provided for more peaceful relationships. God’s commands protected his people from a cycle of wrongdoing, resentment, and revenge.

Following justice still protects us and provides for us. Treating other people fairly still promotes peace in our life and protects us from the destructive cycle of revenge. The teacher who treats his or her students fairly will more likely be rewarded with appreciative and achieving students. The Burger Heaven employee who treats her coworkers fairly will more likely be promoted to supervisor later on.

God’s concern for justice reflects his nature and character and his love for us, because he knows that treating people fairly will protect and provide for us.

REFLECT: You may already have enjoyed God’s protection and provision in your life as a result of treating someone fairly. Can you think of any instance when you might have avoided resentment and revenge by treating someone fairly? Have you witnessed any vengeful situation (at school, for example) that might have been avoided if one person had acted justly?

PRAY: “Lord, thank you for your protection and provision. Help me to treat others fairly, even when it’s difficult or tempting to do otherwise.”


Previous Article

Next Article