Judges 16-18

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Chapter 16 The first thing we read about today is that Samson went into Gaza.  Gaza was one of the 5 capital cities (Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron – Josh 13:3) of the Philistines. Keep in mind that Samson was sent by God, his parents (the mother barren) were told they would have a son, set apart for God, A Nazirite, who would BEGIN the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines (Judges 13:5.) 

Take a LOOK at a map on line and look at the location of Gaza.  Pick up ANY newspaper today and most likely you hear of the wars that are STILL going on in this same area in 2013!!  The name “Philistine” comes from the Hebrew word Philistia.  The Greek rendering of the name is “palaistinei” which is where “Palestine” comes from. These Philistine people in Bible times were known for being aggressive, warmongering, “sea people”, great producers and consumers of alcoholic beverages particularly beer, and innovators in the use of iron for weapons (superior to the bronze the Israelites used.)  Archeological findings show that Philistine soldiers carried images of their gods into battle; and ancient ruins of Philistine contain numerous breweries and wineries as well as countless beer mugs.  Remember yesterday when we discussed Samson’s wedding — the Hebrew word translated into “feast” is “misteh” meaning a week-long drinking feast.  We will see that for nearly 200 years the Philistines harassed and oppressed the Israelites.  God sent SAMSON to BEGIN the deliverance of Israel from these people.

Today the Philistine people no longer exist. However, we are familiar with the Palestinians.  Today “The Gaza Strip” forms part of the Palestinian Hamas government and is predominantly Sunni Muslim.  IS THIS NOT TOTALLY FASCINATING!!!???  Can you see God’s prophesies coming to pass even in our time??  MIND BLOWER!!

Samson —disregarded boundaries, ignored good advice, was controlled by his lusts, broke rules, broke all of the Nazirite Vow covenant rules, was a prankster, overconfident, used anger as a tool, repeated the same mistakes, had a huge ego, took a lot for granted, lost sight of the big picture, and obviously did not pray or have his heart toward God… until the end.  God STILL used Samson to BEGIN the destruction of the Philistines!!

Delilah – oh man … did she have feelings for Samson?  We will never know!!  And was she PERSISTENT or WHAT???  Talk about a NAG and a “whiney butt!!”  However, she certainly was not good for him!!   In verse 5 it says “The rulers of the Philistines…each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver”.  One of last year’s blog participants did some research and found that 5500 shekels of silver today is worth $68,992 (not bad pay for a day’s “work”.)  It’s interesting that we NEVER hear of Delilah again in the Bible … great for movie drama…but never spoke of again in God’s Word.  She used her unfaithfulness to Samson and fear of the “rich and famous” to ruin Samson and HER people as well.

Who are these men bribing Delilah? Look at Joshua 13:3

from the Shihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite (the territory of the five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron—that of the Avvites from the south, all the land of the Canaanites,

These were very VERY wealthy men.  Together they were offering her 5500 shekels.  Back in biblical times, a half of a shekel could buy 160 grains of barley.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. (1 Tim 6:10)

The irony was this was not the first time this had happened to Samson.  In Judges 14:15 – his WIFE was given a choice to get the answer out of her husband OR they would kill her family. BIG choice for a young bride I am sure!!

Verse 20 is so very sad to me.  “BUT HE DID NOT KNOW THAT THE LORD HAD LEFT HIM.”  Samson was not even aware that God had left him.  How often  do we place ourselves in situations and later think … ummmmm….that was not a smart decision and I KNOW God was not in that one??  Hard to admit, but that is why humility is so important, and we are most blessed to KNOW God’s grace and mercy because of Jesus Christ.

Samson now in the Philistines hands, seized, eyes gouged out, bound with bronze shackles, and grinding grain in prison!!  BUT…..and this is so beautiful… in verse 22 “BUT THE HAIR ON HIS HEAD BEGAN TO GROW AGAIN AFTER IT HAD BEEN SHAVED.”  God is planning something BIG.. can you feel it??

NOW… the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a GREAT sacrifice to Dagon (their god).  (Note… remember the name Dagon for future reads…we will read of him again.) They were celebrating, believing their god had delivered them from their enemy (Samson.)  Many people… many of the “rich and famous” and the “who’s whos” were partying, drinking, “in high spirits. LET SAMSON entertain us!!!

Samson had had plenty of time to ponder how he had spent his life.  His last request of the Philistines was “put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple so that I may lean against them.”  And then we see his second and definitely his last request of God – “Then Samson prayed to the LORD, O Sovereign Lord, remember me, O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes….Let me die with the Philistines!”

CAN YOU IMAGINE how big he was???  I mean if he could lean on TWO pillars of this huge building AT THE SAME TIME… he was a BIG BIG BIG man!!  Superman, Spiderman, Ironman, The Hulk, etc … had NOTHING on him!!!  DOWN came the pillars of the temple on the rulers and all the people in it.  He killed more Philistines when he died than while he lived. 

I am crying as I read this.  Although he is one of our Bible leaders, he had great flaws (as we all do).  I can ONLY imagine how much greater God could have used him… if he had “tuned in” earlier to the one who sent him.  Keep in mind that God never abandoned Samson.  He allowed the consequences of Samson’s CHOICES to unfold.  However, when Samson asked (although it was for revenge) … God listened and answered. He did indeed BEGIN the deliverance of the Israelites from the Philistines!!

I have read these chapters about Samson over and over last night and today … and before his death his prayer to God is  ONLY the SECOND time we see him praying to his God.. to our God.  The first time was 15:18 when he “cried out to God” because he was thirsty after a battle.

The story of Samson (IMHO) is a GREAT scripture to teach young adults with.  In some ways you can see the prankster in Samson that is part of so many teens, thinking he is wiser than other around him offering advice, and having to live with the consequences of CHOICES made outside of God’s perfect plan for him.  Look at some of the profound lessons that we could learn from Samson’s life:

  1. Our lusts can and will lead us into destructive behaviors and can destroy our lives and the lives of others
  2. Anger and Revenge are never healthy and can end in disaster
  3. Seeking God with all our hearts and all our souls is vital to our survival
  4. Getting into a relationship with an unbeliever will rarely work which is why we are told “do not be unequally yoked.”
  5. We must decide what kind of person you will love BEFORE passion takes over
  6. Love is a choice
  7. Determine whether a person’s CHARACTER and FAITH are in God before entertaining thoughts of romance and permanence
  8. Most of the time spent with a spouse does not revolve around sex (maybe in the  “honeymoon” and initial phases.. but it is not what lasts).  Our lifetime spouse’s personality, temperament, and commitment to solve problems, laugh with us, enjoy us in sickness and health, must be as gratifying as his or her kisses.
  9. Be patient..the second look often reveals what is beneath the pleasant appearance and attentive touch.
  10. Teach and demonstrate to others how to enjoy the Lord, how to have fun without being in a premature, outside of God’s design for us, physical relationship;  how to laugh;  how to dance; how to sing;  how to have parties with friends not based on drugs and alcohol, and most importantly .. teach them how to read the Word so they may know and hear from the Lord themselves.

Romans 8:39 –Once we are the Lord’s, NO-THING can ever separate us from HIS love!!!  NO sin is unforgiveable (Psalms 103:3 &  Mark 3:28.)— We only have to humble ourselves and confess our sin and that HE is Lord (1 John 1:9.)  God heard Samson…. And He will hear from each of us.

Chapter 17 — As if I were not already crying enough with Samson’s story … this chapter just ripped my heart out.  I am sure Micah’s actions grieved the Holy Spirit.  Isaiah 63:10 says: “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.”  Ephesians 4:30 says: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

verse 6”Everyone did as he saw fit” A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, left that town in search of some other place to stay.  On his way he came to Micah’s house in the hill country of Ephraim.”

Micah, from the hill country of Ephraim (an Israelite) stole from his mother, tells her after he hears her utter a curse about it, then he turns around and makes IDOLS out of the money!!!  HE BUILDS A SHRINE to the IDOLS!!

NOW…. What in the world is a Levite doing in Bethlehem?  Living with a clan of Judah?  Looking for a place to stay?  All Levites were supposed to be serving God, serving HIS people, living in the designated cities for Levites!!! – This priest showed disrespect for God because he performed his duties in a HOUSE… with IDOLS….and claimed to speak for God when God had nothing to do with it!!

Why is Ephraim in the hill country? — The Danites were assigned enough land to meet their needs (Joshua 19:40-48.)  BUT… they failed to trust God to help them CONQUER their territory and were forced by the Amorites into the hill country (1:34.)  As the Danites are wandering around trying to figure out where they are supposed to be living (HELLO…. God ALREADY TOLD THEM WHERE TO LIVE…. THEY MUST HAVE BEEN SMOKIN SOMETHING to have missed God’s message!!)

Chapter 18 –The Danites (SEARCHING for their LAND…duh) stay with Micah and STEAL his IDOLS (double duh)!!!  Then they turn around and ask the priest to ask God if their journey will be success.  (JUST SLAP ME NOW because I KNOW I have done something similar to this kind of stupidness!!)  This priest obviously had NO CLUE of God’s laws for him as a LEVITE.  The Danites were basically trying to seek God from a fake priest…. Yet they are so far “gone” possibly they only wanted the “lip service”…. Ummmm sure go….be save…be blessed.  (Been there and done that too…. Cough, cough!!)

Life without living with God might seem like a small thing, but look how steep the slope gets and how fast the snowball picks up speed!!

NOW the Danites want to BRIBE the priest to go with them to the land of Laish .. land that the Lord NEVER gave them!!!  The Danites had turned into idol worshipers and had become superstitious.  Every step they are taking in this chapter is centered on self and not on God.  They were beginning to believe the priest had special powers that they do NOT have… they are humans just like you and me…no special powers to be worshiped.

WHAT A MESS!!!

So what is today’s take away?  Each of these chapters teach us NOT to depend on our own understanding; and NOT to put ANY thing before God (ideas, TV shows, movies, food, drugs, alcohol, statues, shrines, computers, people, and on and on).  Any habit can become an idol in our lives when they become dominating forces.  How do I see Jesus on these pages?  I am SO glad you asked…. I am made even more aware of how desperately I need HIM .. ALL of HIM .. ALL of the time.

Psalm 86:8 –“Among the gods there is NONE LIKE YOU, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.”

“Shout to the Lord” by Hillsong

Sharing HIS love,

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