Saturday, February 3, 2024

February 3, 2024

Oh Samson, you had the nature of every creature on earth. Even though Samson was a man of God, a Nazarite, he had an unholy attraction to women and gullibly allowed them to toy with him. In Judges 16, we find him in Gaza, where he first meets a harlot, sleeps with her, and gives away his presence in Philistine territory. He escaped the city before they could try and kill him. After leaving there, he met another woman, the infamous Delilah, who got paid to use her wiles to find out where his strength came from. He lied to her several times, but her cunning style, constant badgering, and saying that he didn’t love her because he would tell her caused him to reveal the truth. Samson had great bodily strength, but women weakened him to the point of death. After falling asleep in her lap, she called in the Philistines, who shaved his head. She probably gave him some sleeping potion so he wouldn’t wake up. As a Nazarite, he wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol. She awakened him, and he thought he would shake it off as before, but he didn’t notice that the Holy Spirit had left him and that he had no strength. They gouged out his eyes! 

They kept him in prison until they had a festival where they all came together to worship Dagon, the fish man idol. After eating and drinking, they brought Samson out to make fun of him, not realizing that his hair had grown out. They placed him between the central pillars, and he prayed that God would give him strength one more time. Samson pushed them, and the whole place came crashing down, killing more than he had ever killed in his entire life. 

We are all susceptible to different kinds of lust, so we must strengthen our trust in God so we can overcome such enticements. Allow God to become the ruler of your heart. The most heartbreaking part of this story is where God left him, and he didn’t even know it. How sad?

And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. Judges 16:20

Friday, February 2, 2024

February 2, 2024

Samson does not play games! He returned to his father-in-law's house with a kid goat to see his wife; that's when he found out he had given her away to Samson's friend. He offered him his younger daughter, but Samson wasn't interested. But he was exceedingly angry and took it out on the Philistines by setting fire to their corn fields using three hundred foxes tied together two-by-two with a torch between them. In retaliation, the Philistines set fire to the homes of his father-in-law and his wife. Even though he was angry with them, he avenged them by fatally wounding some of the Philistines in the hips and thighs. He left there and went down to stay in the top of the rock Etam. These things brought trouble for Judah and Israel because they were still oppressing them. The Philistines came looking for Samson, so three thousand men of Judah went to get him from Etam. They bound him with two cords, but Samson made them promise not to kill him themselves, and they agreed. When they handed him over, he broke the cords like nothing and killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey! He threw the jawbone to the side and was so thirsty he thought he was going to die, but God provided him water in the hollow of that jawbone. 

As you can see, this chapter is about revenge and retaliation. Samson succeeded in bringing justice because he trusted God, so God used him as a vessel to keep the Philistines in check for the sake of Israel. If the Philistines were righteous, this wouldn't have happened to them, but because they worshipped Dagon and oppressed Israel, they brought God's vengeance upon themselves, and Samson was the guy to do it!

Thursday, February 1, 2024

February 1, 2024

Samson grew up and was ready for marriage. He found a woman that pleased his eyes and told his parents to get her for him. They were not happy with his selection because she was a Philistine and were hoping he would find a bride among the Israelites. They complied with his wishes. They set out to go to Timnath to get her, and on the way, he took a detour through a vineyard and ended up killing a lion with his bare hands. He didn't tell his parents about it. How did they not hear the commotion if they were in the same vicinity? By the time they returned, he went back through the vineyard and found that bees had made a hive out of the carcass of the lion, and it was full of honey. He ate some and took some to his parents. When it was time for the seven-day wedding feast, he made a wager with his groomsmen, who were Philistines, that if they could figure out his riddle, he would give them an entire wardrobe. 

And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle. Judges 14:14

They couldn't figure it out, so they told his new wife that they would burn down her family's home if she didn't find out and tell them. So she cried to Samson, but he told her he hadn't even told his parents. She used her tears and told him he didn't love her, and he gave in and told her the answer. She ran back and told them, and they gave him the answer when the time was up. What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion? He was angry and said to them, "If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle." He then went into the Philistine territory and killed 30 men for their clothes. Samson's wife was given to his companion.

This example shows that cheating is hazardous and can cause more trouble than it's worth. Those 30 men lost their lives over a ridiculous game. The other lesson these groomsmen learned is that toying with Samson is not a good idea! "You play stupid games; you win stupid prizes!"

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

January 31, 2024

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. Judges 13:1. The story abruptly changed after that verse, and it goes into the prediction of the birth of Sampson, who would eventually become their deliverer. Was Israel’s oppression a total of 40 years, or was it 40 years plus the time they had to wait for Sampson to grow up? I don’t know. An angel of the Lord, though possibly Jesus, appeared to Sampson’s mother, who had been barren, and he told her she would have a son. He cautioned her to refrain from wine and strong drink and only eat clean food because he was going to be a Nazarite from before his birth, and no razor was ever to touch his head. After the angel left her, she ran to her husband, Manoah, and told him everything she had experienced. He wanted to understand what they should do and prayed that he would reappear. He then appeared to Manoah’s wife again, and she ran to get him. The angel told him everything he had told his wife. He was very grateful and offered to serve him a kid goat, but the angel told him to offer it to God. God sent fire down and consumed it, and the angel disappeared in the flame as it went up to heaven. 

For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. Judges 13:20

Never give up! Continue praying as Manoah’s wife did. She trusted in the Lord, and he gave her a son who would save Israel from the Philistines. As you can see, this story resembles the prediction of the birth of Jesus, our deliverer. That makes Sampson a type of Christ. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

January 30, 2024

When the Lord gave Jephthah success in overtaking Ammon to release his family from being oppressed by them, the tribe of Ephraim got mad. They came to fight Jephthah and threatened to burn his house down and then asked why he hadn't asked them to help; he did ask, but they refused to help. Then Ephraim called them fugitives, and that set Jephthah off, so he killed them! When the stragglers wanted to cross back over the Jordan to determine if they were from Ephraim or Gilead, he made them say Shibboleth, and if he said Sibboleth and didn't pronounce it right, they killed him.

This was a ridiculous fight, a family dispute, and a lot of Ephraimites got killed. This war was probably started because of jealousy over the bounty of spoils that Ephraim saw Jephthah bringing back from Ammon, and then it escalated because of words. I'm sure they must have been sorry for ever stirring that pot! Jephthah was a judge for only six years and then died. He probably died of heartbreak over his daughter's death. 

Families fight all the time, but it's best to talk out your differences or walk away rather than fight against each other. We have a common enemy and should only fight against him, not each other. 

And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me? Judges 12:3

Monday, January 29, 2024

January 29, 2024

Sometimes, when I read the Bible, knowing that I have read it several times over the years, I cannot believe that I don’t remember certain stories. I don’t want to repeat this next story because it’s disturbing. However, it is a continuation of yesterday’s post. The Israelites, who had turned away from God to worship idols, came back begging him to help them, and he told them to get their fake gods to help, but then he felt sorry for them. “… and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” Judges 10:16. Gilead had sons with his wife but also had a son with a different woman, maybe from a different culture, so his sons from his wife drove that son, Jephthah, out of their country so he would have no part of their inheritance. Then, because of the trouble they had caused themselves by worshipping idols, they called for him to come back to lead them and help them fight to free themselves from their oppressors. He agreed and made a vow to God that if he gave them victory, whoever came to greet him first after the victory would give them over to be sacrificed as a burnt offering. When he returned home, his only child, his daughter, came out to meet him with timbrels and dances. He was crushed and regretted his vow. He told her, and she agreed for him to honor his vow but asked for two months to grieve her virginity. 

With everything happening today and the sacrifices we hear about that are not reported in the television news, this story hurts my heart. When Solomon says there is nothing new under the sun, we see in this story that he is right! Don’t make vows to God that you are not willing to keep, especially one like this! This story is a tragedy. I’m sure that because he had received a push from the Holy Spirit to help his brothers, there was no need for him to make such a vow to God to be victorious because we know that it grieved God to see his children suffering from the oppression. The Bible is full of uplifting stories; this is not one of them. God will make you victorious without you making stupid vows. Be careful of the promises you make to God!

And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. Judges 11:30-31

Sunday, January 28, 2024

January 28, 2024

Israel was quiet for 45 years under the judgeship of Tola for 23 years and Jair for 22 years. Then things for them got bad again because they turned away from the one true God to worship other gods. Several countries around them oppressed them. They got rid of their idols and turned to God for help. He reminded them of all the oppressors he had delivered them from and said, “I will deliver you no more.” Imagine turning away from God so many times that he’s finally fed up with you and leaves you to your own destruction. 

We turned away from other gods when we accepted Jesus and he is gracious to deliver us when we cry to him for help. We should continue in our walk with him and keep moving toward him rather than turning away. He is generous in forgiveness, but at what point does it become evident that your salvation story was just a “get out of hell free card?” He will never leave or forsake you if you are truly saved. 

Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Judges 10:13

Israel repented and accepted whatever punishment God sought to give them, and in mercy, he eventually sent them help.

And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. Judges 10:15-16