SAMSON ON THE RAMPAGE
Lord, teach us how to confront the Philistines effectively.
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.
- Judges 15:16 Or made a heap or two; the Hebrew for donkey sounds like the Hebrew for heap.
- Judges 15:17 Ramath Lehi means jawbone hill.
- Judges 15:19 En Hakkore means caller’s spring.
- Judges 15:20 Traditionally judged
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.
‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.’(Lev 19:2)
In verses 9–13 we see that ‘the once-patriotic men of Judah would rather be rid of Samson than rock the boat of harmonious relations with the Philistines’, (M Wilcock, 1992, p126) confirming that Israel does not intend to ‘confront’ the Philistines (Judg 14:4 and see yesterday’s notes). Samson continues to be arrogant, vicious, and vengeful, with further tragic consequences, and we continue to ask, ‘How can the Lord use someone like Samson for his purposes?’ The issue is brought into sharp focus by verse 14b: how can the ‘Spirit of the Lord’ come upon such a person (See also Judg 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6,19)?
To consider these questions, it is helpful to contrast the work of the Spirit in the Old Testament with His work in the New Testament. In Old Testament times, the Spirit came upon individuals for a specific period and a specific task; in the New Testament, the Spirit dwells permanently in a believer, not only to empower with charismatic gifts for service but also to produce the fruit of a Christ-like character. However, we should notice that, even in New Testament times, spiritual gifts are not always allied with godly character – after all, they are gifts, not rewards for good behavior.
What does this mean for us? First and obviously, if God can use Samson then God can use you and me without having to wait until we are (almost) perfect! Second, Paul teaches that we should purify ourselves to be fit for the Master’s use; (2 Tim 2:20,21) such purity makes us more likely to achieve God’s purposes in God’s way. But, third, our reason for being holy goes deeper than this: the prime motivation is not so that we can be used, but so that we reflect the person and nature of the God who has called us and is at work in us.
How valid is the thought: ‘I must not give in to this temptation because I am preaching on Sunday and to sin now would pollute my Sunday ministry’?
Lord, if You can use Samson, You can use me. Position me where I can maximize the benefit for Your kingdom.