Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 20 April 20:
– Judges 14:2 — “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.”
Hebrews 11 lists Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson in the “Hall of Fame of Faith,” as men who “were made strong out of weakness (Hebrews 11:34).” These were all men who had been uniquely and mightily empowered by God but let pride, lust, and self-centeredness get the best of them. They failed to guard their hearts – “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).”
An uninspired book written by men for the sake of a false religion would have made these “heroes” out to be both mighty and noble in character, men who through their merit and great works achieved their salvation before God. However, the inspired word of God intentionally reveals the truth of these men, the truth of our sinful condition, the truth of God’s holiness, mercy, grace, love and righteousness, the truth of our total insufficiency and reliance on God’s mercy and grace, and the truth of our need to walk by the Spirit in obedience and not by the flesh. Judges also reveals the reality of spiritual decline among an unrepentant people who attempt to define ethics for themselves and do what is “right in their own eyes” rather than God’s standard – things erode from bad to worse over time.
Samson was set apart as a Nazarite (Numbers 6) for a great mission, and he was mightily empowered by God for God’s purposes. However, although empowered by the Spirit, Samson did not walk by the Spirit but rather walked in the flesh, (Galatians 5:16-26) recklessly pursuing self-gratification, never asking God, “What is to be [my] manner of life, and what is [my] mission (Hebrews 13:12)?” He stubbornly and irrationally pursued his own passions.
Notice in our readings today that, while his parents had personal, powerful encounters with God, there is no recorded dialogue between Samson and God, no prayer life, no concern for God’s word. It wouldn’t be long before Samson broke every vow of the Nazarite and committed many other sins too. And it would appear his parents had no influence over him.
In today’s readings, he marries a Philistine woman (forbidden by God in Deuteronomy 7) because he was attracted to her (Judges 14:3). He eats honey out of the carcass of a dead lion, even offering honey to his parents, blatantly defying the Nazarite requirement not to touch the dead, and he is driven by fits of rage and “hot anger” (see Galatians 5:20). Though God would still accomplish His purposes through Samson, despite Samson’s blatant infidelity, the consequences of Samson’s behavior would be needlessly devastating to him and to others around him. Already, Samson has lost his first wife — “And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man (Judges 14:20).”
What can be confusing in our readings is the fact that Samson’s improper marriage was “from the Lord” (Judges 14:4) and that despite Samson’s incredible sin, the Spirit continued to empower him. Is God condoning or overlooking sin? Did God intend for Samson to sin? No. The Bible is clear that “God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13) Also, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) God used the truth of Samson’s bad character and the inevitable fruit of Samson’s blatant disregard for God’s commands and call on his life to reveal truth and expose sin. Notice that when the Spirit empowers Samson it is either to protect Samson or to bring destruction upon the Philistines, not to enable sin. As we shall see, God doesn’t overlook Samson’s sin at all – Samson will soon be driven to his knees; but God doesn’t abandon Samson either, not because of Samson’s fidelity (which is non-existent) but because of God’s fidelity. The truth can be revealed through people in a positive way or a negative way; either way, God is glorified. I pray that we will walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh, that the Truth will be revealed to a watching world through our lives in a very positive way. If you are a Christian, you have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus, not by your works and good deeds; so you have no reason to boast in your own merit. However, to enjoy the gift which you have received through Jesus, you must “abide” in Him by loving Him, obeying Him, and bearing the fruit of His Spirit in your life. (See John 15 and 1 John 3, 4) Don’t deny the Spirit, quench the Spirit, grieve the Spirit, or get out of step with the Spirit by treating God’s grace carelessly.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 20 Apr 20: Pray that God will reveal to you where compromise might be robbing you of God’s blessings, hindering your joy in Him, and hindering your witness to others.