God, I wait here in the silence for Your presence to surround me. Fill me today.
Read Judges 15
Samson’s Vengeance on the Philistines
15 Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father would not let him go in.
2 “I was so sure you hated her,” he said, “that I gave her to your companion. Isn’t her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead.”
3 Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” 4 So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, 5 lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.
6 When the Philistines asked, “Who did this?” they were told, “Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because his wife was given to his companion.”
So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. 7 Samson said to them, “Since you’ve acted like this, I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” 8 He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.
9 The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. 10 The people of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight us?”
“We have come to take Samson prisoner,” they answered, “to do to him as he did to us.”
11 Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?”
He answered, “I merely did to them what they did to me.”
12 They said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”
Samson said, “Swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves.”
13 “Agreed,” they answered. “We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. 14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. 15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
16 Then Samson said,
“With a donkey’s jawbone
I have made donkeys of them.[a]
With a donkey’s jawbone
I have killed a thousand men.”
17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.[b]
18 Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore,[c] and it is still there in Lehi.
20 Samson led[d] Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHave you ever felt alone in serving God?
In spite of animal cruelty (4), wanton destruction (5) and cold-blooded murder (8,15), God is at work. That’s the uncomfortable but inescapable conclusion from this colorful episode in Samson’s life. Though his actions are motivated more by childish petulance than by a desire to fulfill his divine calling, Samson is empowered by the Spirit of the Lord (14) and attributes his triumph to God (18), who refreshes him after his encounter with the Philistines (19). Again, the narrator is content to leave it to the reader to judge the judge and his exercise of spiritual power. The ambiguity suggests that God’s calling and empowering do not guarantee a faithful execution. A note that the land enjoyed rest during Samson’s tenure as judge is conspicuous by its absence here (20).
Samson appears to operate as a lone wolf against Israel’s oppressors. There is a suggestion that this is because some of his fellow Israelites were content to accept Philistine rule (11). Against the background of such apathy, Samson’s antipathy towards his people’s oppressors shines as a more faithful response. Adopting an ‘anything for a quiet life’ attitude risks becoming complicit in idolatry. The temptation to do so is strong, however, because – as Samson perhaps discovered – obedience can be isolating.
Are you, or people you know, caught in a vicious circle of revenge? Pray about how you might cooperate with the Holy Spirit to bring reconciliation. What first steps can you take?
Spirit of God, only You can change hearts. Please change mine. Work in the hearts of those around me who are struggling.