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Judges 16

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

MONDAY, MAY 7

SCRIPTURE:  JUDGES 16

This chapter brings to a close the story of Samson.  It is a most interesting story that has been told and retold.  There are lessons in it for all of us.

As the chapter opens, he is still demonstrating his great strength.  This time he pulled up the city gate – posts, bars, and chains – and carried them away.  Of course he did that after spending time with a prostitute.  The fact that the Bible mentions this is not permission to do the same.  It is simply a statement of fact.  The Bible often tells truth that is not necessarily good truth but it is, nevertheless truth.

The chapter then moves to the story of Delilah.  Verse 4 tells us that Samson loved this woman.  But either for money of from fear of being killed herself, Delilah made a pact to destroy Samson.  I have often wondered why he continued to stay with her after her multiple and obvious attempts to discover the source of his strength.  You would think that after a couple of times, Samson would have gotten the message and went on his way.  But there is something about sin and temptation that causes us to think that we are in control, that we can do what we want when we want and stop when we want with no one getting hurt.  There is something about sin and temptation that often just gradually takes control of us until we find ourselves trapped in it and quite unable to escape.

In many ways that is what happened to Samson.  He finally gave up his “secret”.  It is important to realize that his strength was not in his hair.  His strength was in his relationship with God.  The long hair was simply an outward symbol of that – it was part of the Nazirite vow.  The cutting of his hair, then, was symbolic of breaking his relationship with God.

Samson was horribly mistreated.  He was blinded.  He was forced to grind at the mill like an animal.  He was humiliated.  He was isolated.  But while all of that was going on, his hair started growing.  Again, his strength was not in his hair.  The regrowth of his hair must be symbolic of the renewal of his relationship with God.  It is easy to imagine that as Samson walked in the circle of that mill hour after hour and day after day, he had more than enough to time to talk with God.  And somewhere in that their relationship must have been restored.

As the chapter closes, Samson’s strength is returned and in one great act of martyrdom, he destroys more Philistines than he had killed during his life.

There is much we can learn from Samson.  But there is not much we should emulate.  It is interesting, however, that Samson is listed by name in Hebrews 11 which is the great Hall of Faith in the Bible.  So, obviously, Samson was a man of faith who acted in faith at least part of his life.

As we leave his story, we should have at least a couple of takeaways.  One, we should be people of faith who act in faith.  Two, we should never think that we are in control of our sin.  Our sin always controls us.  Three, we should never think it is safe to play with temptation but we should always look for the way of escape that God always provides.  Four, we should rejoice that God is more than able to use very imperfect people like Samson and like us to accomplish His great purpose.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Judges 15

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

FRIDAY, MAY 4

 

SCRIPTURE:  JUDGES 15

Ecclesiastes 7:8 says “The end of a matter is better than the beginning.”  In other words, the true value of something is not necessarily that it was started.  The true value is how it ended.  By the same token, almost anybody can start something.  But the true test of character is how that somebody ended whatever he started.  Starting well is important.  Finishing well is vital.

Because the story of Samson is familiar to many, we know how it is going to end.  While it is true that Samson will kill more Philistines in his martyrdom than in his life, we have to wonder how things would have been different if he had been able to conquer himself before he set out to conquer the Philistines.  In fact, as you read through his story, you will see that almost all of his battles with the Philistines are personal battles.  We don’t read a lot about him taking on the enemies of the Lord.

When this chapter opens, Samson has made his way back to what he thought was his wife.  He had paid a great price for her but it seems the marriage had not been consummated.  As a result, his “almost father-in-law” had given the young woman to Samson’s friend.  This was adding insult to injury. 

Samson’s response was to burn up the crops of the Philistines.  The Philistine’s response was to kill the father-in-law and his daughter.  Samson’s response was to kill a bunch of Philistines.  The Philistine’s response was to take an army to Judah and threaten those folks.  An army of 3,000 men from Judah went to try to reason with Samson.  This, by the way, is the only time in Samson’s story that an army of Judah was formed.  Ironically, they were not formed to fight the Philistines.  They were formed to capture one of their own. 

Interestingly enough, Samson willingly submitted to the men of Judah and allowed them to deliver him, bound by ropes, to the Philistines.  Once he was delivered to the Philistine army, he took the jawbone of a donkey (a most unusual weapon) and killed 1,000 Philistines.  If you stop to think about it, those Philistines must have not been too smart.  I mean at some point, maybe around 632 slain Philistines, you would think they would quit sending men to be killed.  Nevertheless, the Philistines kept coming at him until 1,000 of them lay dead. 

Verse 18 makes what seems to be a very simple statement: “And he was thirsty”.  On one hand, this reminds us of the humanity of Samson.  It would have been very understandable that he would be thirsty.  But on another level, we see once again that testing often follows triumph.  When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, they quickly became hungry and thirsty.  After Elijah’s great victory on Mount Carmel, he was ready to die.  After Jesus’ baptism, he was led into the wilderness where He would face great temptation.

So why do we see this pattern so often in the Bible?  The trial or testing that follows triumph helps keep people from becoming proud and self-confident.  The trial or testing is intended to bring humility.  It is normal to resist trials and testing but sometimes they are a gift from God intended to keep up on the right spiritual track.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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