Samson

From the book of Joshua we go to Judges, and it’s a fascinating period of time with a lot happening. Joshua dies, the tribes are still trying to conquer/divide/settle into land, and going through cycles of sin and depravity. Between Joshua’s death and until Saul is named the Israelites’ first king, we have “judges”. These judges are different than modern day judges and I love how they’re described in chapter 2 verses 16-18:

16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so. 18 Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. 

In our reading today, we focus specifically on Judges 16, which outlines Samson as a judge for the Hebrew people being oppressed by the Philistines (there are 11 other judges recorded in the book of Judges). If you’ve heard this one before, your high points might be similar to what stood out in my mind over the years:

  • God gave Samson supernatural physical strength, and if he cut his hair he would lose his strength – but no one knew that but him. 
  • Delilah tries to get the truth from him multiple times – in order to sell his secret to the Philistines. The first couple of times he tells her lies, but she tries to take away his strength with these lies… why does he keep trusting her and telling her?
  • Eventually (third time is a charm) he tells her the truth about his hair and she sells him out and Samson is captured. 

After spending more time in Judges and the life of Samson, a few new things came to light for me:

  • Samson was born to Manoah and his previously barren wife, after an angel appeared telling her she would bear a son that would be a deliverer for the Israelites. – Ch. 13
  • Samson was raised as a Nazarite and as he grew, the Lord blessed him. – Ch. 13
  • Samson desired/tried to marry women outside of his tribe (against God’s laws at that time) – Ch. 14 the woman from Timnah, Ch. 16 Delilah. 
  • Samson was betrayed by both women, both telling information he trusted them with. 
  • The situation with the woman from Timnah (his soon-to-be wife) is Lifetime Movie ready. He kills a lion on his way to ask for his bride.. then during the wedding feast creates a riddle for the Philistines to solve. His bride tells the secret answer, and it all ultimately ends in death. Samson was a great warrior and killed 1000 men without an army. Ch. 14-15
  • Samson has his “Hey there, Delilah” moments and we do not know how long she nagged him to reveal his secret, but in verse 16 it says she pressed and urged him daily until his soul was vexed to death. 
  • The Philistines gouged out Samson’s eyes upon capturing him. Samson, whose role was to help people keep their eyes on God, lost his way, and his own sight in the process. – Ch. 16
  • God gives Samson one last super strength moment during his captivity and he kills 3,000 Philistines before his own death. 
  • Samson is listed among the men and women of great faith in Hebrews 11! 

This deeper study of Samson has replaced my thoughts of “why did he spill the beans” with some areas of encouragement: 

After Samson is captured and realized he wrongly told the secret of his strength, he still had the courage to call upon the Lord for help. Wow!! When we mess up, we need God’s help to deal with the fall out. But sometimes we let our shame, pride, or doubt keep us from calling on God. What an awesome example Samson gave us to cry out with faith! 

Be wise about who you allow into the inner circle of your heart. Are they Christ Followers, encouraging you in your walk with the Lord? Is there anyone influencing you in ways that come between you and God? 

What strength did God entrust you with and how are you using it for His kingdom?   

Rooted in His Love

Today’s Readings: 1 Kings 6, Ephesians 3, Ezekiel 36, Psalm 86

Today we find Paul again in Ephesians 3 writing from prison. I did some reading about Paul’s experience and learned that he was under house arrest in Rome while he awaited trial. In the very first verse he describes himself as “a prisoner for Christ.” He goes on to say that he is a prisoner on behalf of the Gentiles. This short phrase is so easy to skip over but I think it is really significant. What does it mean to us to be prisoners for Christ? To me, that means putting Jesus before all other things. That means dying to myself in order to put him first as he put me first on the cross. Paul goes on to explain to the Ephesians that they should not lose heart over his suffering. He says,

“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things.” (Ephesians 3:8-9)

 What would it look like if I committed to bringing light to everyone and shared the plan! Even though he was under arrest, Paul maintained his faith that God was in control of everything. When I think of this in context of my life today, it gives me such comfort to know that God is in control. Then I think about the possibility of sharing that message with others. I know, sometimes we feel hesitant, we don’t know if it’s the right time or place to share the hope and promise of Jesus. Paul shows us through example that we too can gain strength by sharing the message in our times of weakness.

Paul goes on in Chapter 3 to pray for spiritual strength. I love this moment and these words. It reminds me that each of us are named, each of us are absolutely cherished in His heart.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and the length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ….” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Did you read that? Did you take it in? Rooted and grounded in love! How many times this week can we repeat that sacred text to ourselves in times of worry or anger or fear. We are truly rooted and grounded in God’s love. So rooted that we may have strength to comprehend his love for us. Paul wants us to see that God’s love for us is multidimensional. It isn’t just at church, not just at home in our Bible or our daily devotional. God’s love for us fills all the spaces. Paul calls us as Christians to go to Him. He reminds us that God truly wants to hear from us.

Today’s message is so simple but to me it is so foundational. We can do better than survive each day. We can thrive in the knowledge of his love for us. We are rooted in Him; nothing can separate us from our grounding in Christ Jesus.

God, thank you for your words, help us to find our strength, to comprehend your all-encompassing love for us. Amen!