February 19, 2019

JUDGES 12-16    


Focus Verses For Today: Judges 16:28-30


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.  


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.  (Judges 12:1-7)  Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon, led Israel unremarkably for a combined period totaling 25 years.  (Judges 12:8-15)


Judges 13 tells of the birth of Samson.  He was the only child of Manoah and his wife.  Manoah’s wife, who could not conceive, 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.  Since Manoah wasn’t present for the appearance of the angel of the Lord he prayed to God, asking for instructions on how to raise the boy.  The angel of the Lord appeared again to Manoah’s wife in a field.  She went to her husband, and brought him to the angel of the Lord.  After meeting the angel of the Lord, Manoah thought they were going to die because they saw the face of God.  Manoah’s wife gave birth to Samson.  (Judges 13:1-24)


Judges 14 goes straight to Samson’s adulthood, skipping his entire childhood.  Samson saw a Philistine woman and wanted to marry her.  A Jew is forbidden to marry a Philistine.  Samson didn’t care.  Samson’s parent’s dutifully went about arranging the marriage of Samson to the Philistine.  The marriage failed before it got started.  Sampson wagered that a riddle he created would not be solved by the 7th day of his wedding celebration.  It was solved by those whom he wagered because his Philistine wife told them the answer to the riddle.  Samson was furious.  He paid the bet by killing 30 Philistines, taking their property to pay the debt.  He left his wife of only seven days in a huff.  A huge huff.  (Judges 14:1-20)


Judges 15 begins with Samson deciding to visit his Philistine wife.  Samson discovered that her father had given her to another, thinking Samson had left her for good.  Her father, trying to set things right, offers his younger daughter to Samson, claiming she is more beautiful.  (Judges 15:1-2)  In a fit of revenge Samson burns the Philistine wheat fields.  The Philistines then go to the home of Samson’s wife and burn it down killing her and her father.  The Philistines attempted to capture Samson only to have 1,000 Philistines killed by the jawbone of a donkey wielded by Samson.  (Judges 15:2-17)  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.  (Judges 15:18-20)


Judges 16 continues to reveal Samson as a man who lived an ungodly life while fulfilling God’s mission on this earth.  Samson kept the company of a prostitute named Delilah.  Delilah had no affection for Samson.  Delilah was trying to discover the means of his strength to reveal it to his enemies for a price.  After three failed attempts by Delilah, Samson told her the source of his strength.  Delilah held Samson’s head in her lap as others clipped his hair.  He awoke!  His strength was gone!  He awoke a captive of the Philistines!  The Philistines gouged out his eyes and took him away.  (Judges 16:1-21)  As a captive of the Philistines, Samson was put to hard labor, pushing a milling wheel.  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.  


The focus verses for today:

28Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me.  Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood.  Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” (Judges 16:28-30, NIV)


God granted Samson’s request.  Samson pushed the temple’s supporting pillars apart resulting in Dagon’s temple collapsing on the Philistine occupants killing many more at his moment of death than he had during his life.  (Judges 16:23-31)


Samson’s story is a sad one.  Samson was chosen by God to lead in the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines.  A mission which David, the shepherd boy, completed.  Samson chose the ways of the world over living a Godly life.  Please look at Samson’s words in verse 28 of our focus verses for today: Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me.  Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” The Philistines are celebrating the defeat of God by Dagon, and Samson asks for his strength to be restored to avenge the loss of his two eyes.  Contrast shepherd boy David’s words to Samson’s: 45David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  46This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head.  This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  47All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.  (1 Samuel 17:45-47, NIV)


Take our your journal if you are journaling!  Warm up your thinker if you are contemplating!  The story of Samson is sad.  It is the story of a man who appeared to only care about himself from the earliest Biblical accounts of his life after his birth, to the moments leading up to his death.  It was all about what he wanted, without regard to his heritage, without regard to the consequences his actions may bring.  It is also about how God uses an unclean vessel for His glory.  Take a moment to reflect on what you have just read.  Do you think Samson told Delilah that the source of his strength was his hair because he wanted the glory for his feats of strength without crediting God for his strength’s true source?  Do you believe Samson really thought his hair was the source of his strength?  Pray for God to reveal the truth to you.  It is time to write and contemplate!  One question, only one question, it is a hard one, a very hard one: who are you?  Are you proud and arrogant?  Are you caring and loving?  Answer honestly now.  Who are you?  Godspeace!


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