February 23, 2021
DAY 52: JOURNEY THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR
Continuing our journey through the book of Judges, we encounter the judges Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson. All judges were used by God, in accordance with His plan. This does not mean that all judges were devote followers of God. For all his great strength, Samson was weak spiritually. He was easily led astray, which ultimately led to his downfall. When we look at world leaders, and our personal national leaders, think of Samson. No matter your opinion on the leader, each is serving God’s will.
Take some time to pray, asking God to share His meaning of what you will read in Judges today. If you have anything else on your mind, share it with God, He is interested and He cares. Today’s journey takes us through Judges 12-16, bringing us to the end of Jephthah reign over Israel, and taking us through Samson’s life.
The book of Judges tells the tragic story of Israel’s moral corruption and decay, leading to their abandonment of following the laws of the Lord as given to Moses. The book of Judges gets its name from the types of leaders during this time, but they were not legal judges like we have today.
Judges 12-16: We find Jephthah confronted by Ephraimite forces as we begin chapter 12 of Judges. They were upset because they claimed Jephthah did not invite them to battle the Ammonites with the Gileadites. Jephthah disputed the truthfulness of their claim and went to war with Ephram killing 42,000 of their men. Jephthah led Israel six years and then died. Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, led Israel unremarkably for a combined period totaling 25 years. Samson was born during a time when Israel had turned away from the Lord. Samson was the only child of Manoah and his wife, who could not conceive, and was visited by the angel of the Lord to inform her that she would have a male child. She was told to never put a razor to his head and, that while carrying him, to not drink fermented drink or eat unclean food. The boy was to be a Nazarite, dedicated to God from the womb. His purpose was to begin the liberation of Israel from the Philistines. We again meet Samson in adulthood, skipping his entire childhood. Samson saw a Philistine woman and wanted to marry her, even though it is forbidden for a Jew to marry a Philistine. Samson didn’t care and his parent’s dutifully went about arranging the marriage of Samson to the Philistine. The marriage failed before it got started, when his new wife betrayed his confidence to her friends, and resulted in the death of her and her father, and 30 other Philistines. The Philistines later attempted to capture Samson only to have 1,000 Philistines killed by the jawbone of a donkey wielded by Samson. Samson asks God for water and God provides refreshing water to Samson. This prayer is the first of only two prayers of Samson recorded in the Bible. Samson continues to live an ungodly life while fulfilling God’s mission on this earth. Samson kept the company of a prostitute named Delilah, who had no affection for him and only desired to rob him of his strength so the Philistines could capture him. She succeeded and Samson was captured and his eyes gouged out. During a celebration to Dagon, “The Philistine god,” celebrating the defeat of Samson and his God, they brought Samson to the temple where the celebration was taking place. All the Philistine leaders were there – the crowd numbering deep into the thousands. Samson offered one last prayer and was given the strength to topple the temple. (Judges 12:1-16:31)
Read chapters 12 through 16, and consider the following: Is it a coincidence that as Israel continued in its moral decay, its leaders, although used by God, lacked the proper moral guidance and made questionable decisions? Do you follow the way of the Lord? Do you follow the crowd? What/Who does an observer to your life believe you worship?
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