Archive for the ‘Samson’ Category

The Costliness of Sin

I couldn’t help but be reminded of yesterday’s 1,100 pieces of silver (16:5) when I read today’s chapter, Judges 17. I almost wondered if a Philistine woman who once lived in the Valley of Sorek might have migrated a little north to the region of Ephraim.

I can easily picture Delilah and her 1,100 pieces of silver being chased out of town after her boyfriend killed a pagan temple full of men and women (3,000 all said and done)!

So let’s just assume that the “mother” with 1,100 silver shekels in today’s chapter is the Delilah of yesterday’s chapter who received 1,100 pieces for her betrayal of Samson. Now isn’t that convicting?!

One notable positive about Samson is that we never read of him engaging in idolatry. As unpredictable as he was in his behavior, he always seems to be calling on the Lord and acknowledging Him in all his ways (even if those way were questionable).

But he did have a besetting sin of improper relationships with women (interesting to trace the three mentioned in the chapters about Samson). And the last woman he was with, Delilah, betrayed him for the silver.

And she, being a Philistine, gave sacrifices to Dagon (16:23).

And she, being loved by a faith-filled Israelite (hey, that’s not my assessment, that’s God’s [Hebrews 11:32]), had knowledge of the Lord Jehovah.

So, in chapter 17 we see confusion! Absolute religious confusion in the tribe of Dan and Ephraim. And I have a sneaky suspicion, it will infect the whole nation of Israel before this book is over.

And it all started with a beautiful woman catching a man’s fancy.
A man’s fancy not being held in check.
A man overestimating his own strength and
underestimating the power his sins had over him.

And though Samson is not mentioned in the same breath as idolatry, his behavior leads directly to it. It creates the religious chaos we discover in chapter 17.

Oh, the confusion there must be to ask the Lord Himself to bless the very objects (silver) that will be made into a craven image (disobeying the first and most important commandment)!

Lord Jesus, I pray keep me from engaging in behaviors that are pleasant to me, but may end up causing chaos and confusion in the lives of others. Help me to live a focused and honoring life for You. And if Lord God, I should ever ask You to bless the very thing that grieves You, please set me straight rather than letting it go through to seeming success.

Just as a side note, you can see where the Philistines lived along the Great Sea (Mediterranean). Samson was from the tribe of Dan, and during his time (they move way north later on) that tribe lived at the top portion of the Philistine’s land. Ephraim is the next tribe over and that is where we find ourselves in today’s chapter. Not hard to imagine Delilah having to move on after her boyfriend killed more Philistines in his death than he did in his life!


Told Her All His Heart

Ah yes! This chapter makes me want to recant on everything I said yesterday! And yet… The Spirit of God does not retract His assessment in Hebrews 11:32 about Samson, and He wrote the same book I read!

In Judges 16 today we read of the familiar story of Samson and Delilah. It boggles the mind really! Four times! Four times! (do you know what I’m talking about?)

I can just picture burly Samson convincing himself that he was strong enough to withstand the womanly charms of Delilah (the very area he struggled in while a youth). And so he stayed and listened to her whine, accuse, blame, manipulate, beg, chide…thinking all the while he was in control, and perhaps he could even make a game of it.

And for a while, he did just that.

But somewhere along the time frame, he snapped. Was it the daily pestering? Was it the lusts of his flesh? Did he actually begin to believe that he was indestructible? Perhaps he thought he would be able to sense it if anyone got near his head to shave it while he slept?

Maybe he convinced himself, “aw, the hair is just a symbol of my strength, I know it really comes from God.” And indeed that is true, but if God told him to have long hair for the Nazarite vow, then he needs must always have it. He can’t just dispose of God’s methods and expect God to bless his disobedience.

But whatever he was thinking, something switched inside of him, and he “told her all his heart.” Discernment escaped him, and he became a puppet playing into Delilah’s script. Three times we read he told her all his heart. Even strong Samson was not strong enough to flirt with his weaknesses.

Now, tempting as is to try and chase down the idea that “a fool venteth all he knows” or “in the multitude of words there is sin,” or etc., I’m rather taken up with the idea of what it would look like if we “told Jesus all of our heart!”

Proverbs 3:5-6 says,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.

But I think the Darby translation has something to offer us when it comes to telling all of our heart…

Confide in Jehovah all of your heart,
lean not on your own intelligence.
in all thy ways acknowledge Him (or give Him knowledge of),

and He will direct thy paths.

Do with the Lord, what Samson did with Delilah.
No, not the lying part.
And no, not the playing games part.
But rather, tell Him ALL of your heart. Even the parts you want to hide, or the areas you don’t want to relinquish control over. ALL! And lo! Watch clarity appear!

The glorious thing for us is, as we lay ourselves bare before the Lord, we don’t have to worry about the possibility of being exploited, or our vulnerabilities being taken advantage of. He is no Delilah! He won’t sell us out for 11,000 pieces of silver!

He can be trusted — wholly trusted — with ALL of our hearts!

Ah Lord God, I want to run to You and tell You all of my heart. So You can have ownership of it and take up residency in it. Help me to honestly live in honesty with You!

Just another tidbit off the subject…interesting 11,000 pieces of silver was paid for the life of Samson, whereas the Creator of the Universe sold only for 30.

Deliverance for the Deliverer!

I must confess, I have come to the story of Samson with some already preconceived ideas about him. A self-pitying womanizer, a self-willed brat, an uncontrollable egotistical brute, who wants the world to know just how smart he is by talking in riddles! (I’m not very generous, am I?!)

And initially, the chapter for today, Judges 15, only provides credence to that assessment.

But when I try to read this through a more gracious set of eyes, I’m especially struck by the last verse. Here I am judging this judge by the 5 or so incidents recorded in the 4 chapters given to him. But look at verse 20:

And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

In this one verse we see the next 20 years of Samson’s life as he judges Israel with no mention of his sensual lifestyle. Twenty years without incident and I want to critique him based the years of his youth. I don’t know very many people would care to be measured by that standard…myself included.

That is the beauty of God. Even with all of our sins, failures and weaknesses, He manages to cull fruitfulness from us, and then praises us as if it were our own doing. Just look at how Samson was viewed through New Testament’s eyes, a hero of the faith, Hebrews 11:32.

——

Another verse that was delightful to consider is verse 14:

Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.

Just muse on that verse in regards to your own life…what God has done or what you desire for Him to do!

There is no limit to His powerful deliverances. Whatever be the cords of evil habits, woven through long years, and however entangling our circumstances, God’s indwelling power can set us free. Ephesians 1:19. I wonder if Samson marveled at the liberation he experienced so easily just as it seemed he was being totally given over to the enemy?

Lord, I pray that you would make the ropes that hold my heart become like flax that is burned with fire. Strengthen me to share the good news of Your indwelling power with others, especially those those snared by lust and addictions.

Good Guy? or Bad Guy?

Sometimes I have to ask that same question about myself! The way I behave sometimes, you’d think I was a self-willed youth making decisions based on the strict criterion of “what will make me feel good!”

Other times, though not as frequent as I’d like it to be, there are moral victories, wise decisions, or good choices made.

In today’s chapter of Judges 14, the same question can be asked of Samson! Is he a noble fella or a spoiled child?

Some of the mounting evidence for the latter is:

  • Hanging out at the vineyards watching girls
  • “I want her”
  • “Get her for me”
  • “Get her for me” (again!)
  • Keeper of secrets
  • “I’m smarter than you are”
  • “I’ll betcha”
  • Seemingly has an insatiable appetite for clothes!
  • Easily manipulated by a woman
  • Given to anger
  • (and what is he doing down by the vineyards to begin with [verse 13:24; 14:5])?

But the word for me today is…when he was surprised by a young lion that came roaring at him, he didn’t tuck tail and run. He confronted his fears head on, faced them and supernaturally conquered them. Who wouldn’t want to experience that?

And in that nike (victory) over his fears, there was much sweetness to be found. How often the Lord may give me a victory in certain areas, and I immediately try to minimize it, rather than indulging in the sweetness of it, like Samson did in his conquest. By all means, dear Deborah, enjoy the sweetness of a God-given triumph. Acknowledge the gracious hand of the Lord in it, and relish the fresh taste.

So not only did he 1) confront his fears, and
2) indulge in the sweetness gained by the victory, but
3) he shared it with others, freely.

I desire to share any sweetness the Lord has given to me in with others. But I would do it just a smidgen different than Samson did. I would be sure to share exactly where the honey came from and by what power (verse 6) such a feat could have been accomplished!

So, even though we have a pile of evidence to demonstrate what a whiney womanizer Samson is (a far cry from the holy Nazarite he was to be), it is a blessing to see how the Spirit of God can merciful use him. (He even makes an appearance in the Great Hall of Faith)

Could it be that God could use a “Good Guy:Bad Guy” kind of person?!
I hear Him saying “yes!”

Oh Lord God, may You be acknowledged in every success in my life. And may I be faithful to share the sweet honey You provide with others. I pray You will make me more and more the “good guy” and daily help me say good-bye to the “bad guy”!