No surprise, but the Israelites once again found themselves doing evil and paying the consequences with the Philistines ruling over them. And once again God raised someone up to deliver them.
Recap of Samson’s Life
A barren couple had a visitation from the Lord, and were to give birth to a son. He was to be a Nazarite, one set aside especially unto the Lord. Samson, much like his countrymen, found his lust for women a stumbling block.
He went and married a Philistine woman. He offered them a riddle and when they couldn’t solve it, they threatened his wife until she gave the secret away. That set off a one-man war against the Philistines for the rest of his life.
Angry with his wife, he left for awhile. The Philistines gave her as a wife to one of his friends. (Judges 14:20). When Samson heard of this, he torched the Philistines land. They came back and demanded from the Israelites that they turn Samson over, which the people of Judah readily agreed to do. Then Samson killed 1000 with the jawbone of a donkey.
Then there was that little incident with the prostitute where they tried to kill him. And finally then he stumbled with Delilah. He couldn’t stand women nagging and it had caused him to compromise before. But now he gave away the secret of his strength – his hair in dedication to the Lord.
The Philistines came and he had no strength, they gouged out his eyes, and made a mockery of him. In one final feat of strength where he was brought out in a celebration to the god of the Philistines to entertain them, by the Spirit of the Lord he toppled the foundational pillars of their temple and many died. Israel was delivered.
What Is Important
For sure Samson’s life isn’t an example to follow. He was always being tripped by his lust for women and his disgust for nagging. But there are several interesting observations:
1) God doesn’t play by the rules.
Initially it was the Lord who allowed him to fall in love with a Philistine, something that was forbidden as she was a foreign wife (Deut 7:3; Judges 14:3-4). Much like the Lord caused Pharaoh’s heart to harden (Ex 4:21) when he wanted to deliver the Israelites from their bondage, the Lord does what he does to bring deliverance. It was inevitable working with the Israelites that they would do evil by them, as we see that was the culture in their actions.
2) God uses different means of deliverance each time.
Sometimes all Israel was involved and sometimes just a few:
- All Israel in battle – (Judges 3:10, 27)
- A Woman Leader with the Israelites (Judges 4:9)
- A Portion of the tribes (Judges 6, 11)
- The 300 of Gideon (Judges 7)
- One man (Judges 13-16)
The Lord is a master strategist. And sometimes he did what He did so people would see that He was their Victor and not trust in their own strength (Judges 7:3). It seemed as their evil grew worse, the Lord used less and less people to deliver them, perhaps to show them ever so clearly that it was Him who was delivering them.
3) The Way of Lust is the Way of Death
Samson never learned to tame his lust. From one woman to the next he caroused and brought upon himself misery. But this wasn’t just true for him, it was true for the Israelites.
Countless times it says that the Israelites gave in to the gods of the people, mainly the Baals and the Ashteroths. Why? Because those were the gods who promoted lusty and lascivious behavior.
Sexual immorality even to this day continues to trip up God’s people. It’s a fierce battle and one that cannot be walked out alone. But one we first must recognize and walk together to overcome.
4) The LORD uses some of the most messed up people to accomplish his purposes
We think God will use us only if we are super-righteous. Clearly that isn’t the case. The Lord can and does use anyone. Samson didn’t have to do it this way–dishonorably and full of heartache.
But the purposes of the Lord were not aborted because of what he did. Sometimes there is discipline as we see in Moses who couldn’t enter the Promised Land because of his sin. But ultimately God’s purposes will be fulfilled. Oftentimes in spite of us.
5) The LORD is Mighty
In ancient culture the defeated one meant that their god was weaker and the Victor was the strongest. When Samson, the strong man of Israel, was captured by the Philistines, for them it validated that their God was most powerful.
It was not just a coincident that the Spirit of the Lord showed up once again when the Philistines were sacrificing to their god Dagan (Judges 16:23). It wasn’t just convenience that Samson took them out at this gathering.
Rather it was a statement from heaven.
The Lord, He is God, The LORD alone.