Cain’s life can be almost painful to read. Have you ever read a report of someone that is so shameful, and yet they are so unaware of their shame, that you just have to wince for them? This is one way to read the saga of Cain. After murdering his brother, Cain responds to God Himself with what seems, at best, a rude and deceitful response. He spoke this way to the Creator God. This might be where I winced. When God approached Cain’s parents, Adam and Eve, after they first sinned, God asked them where they were, and they at least answered honestly and feared the Lord their God.
What is quite amazing is that God does not smite Cain right then and there. No, in fact, he uses this train-wreck of an interaction to teach Cain about the just actions He (God) must take to discipline him (Cain). God tells Cain that the earth would no longer provide him with food. And Cain’s response to this is that God has been too harsh. Can you imagine talking back to a judge in a court of law this way? Wince again over here. And he goes on. Now, Cain claims, he will be killed as he wander about. Clearly he does not wish for himself what he did to his brother.
Now God, in His incredible compassion, says no. No, Cain, you who killed your own brother will not be killed at the hands of another. Here is where my self-righteous wincing changes to the sinking of my heart as I realize I am just as brazen as this fool named Cain, and God has had compassion on me, too.
“Then the Lord said, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘ I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’ And the Lord said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.’ Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.’ And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” – Genesis 4:9-16