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  • John T. Polk II 4:00 am on 2014-11-05 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , judge righteously, Judges, , poor and needy, , ,   

    (#210) The Proverbs of Solomon 31:8-9-Listen to Your Mama About Words 

    Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-29:27 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. Proverbs 30-31 were added and preserved by the Holy Spirit. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

    Proverbs 31:8-9: “Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. 9 Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

    Step up and speak up for those who are less fortunate, specifically those who have: no voice, no parent, no justice, or no necessities of life. It is emphatic and an action of mercy to help the helpless. All leaders of government should admit that: “Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne” (Proverbs 20:28). God has always required this of His people: “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15); “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:16-17); “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

    The “speechless” are those who have no voice or ability to defend themselves. They are easily victimized by all who would misrepresent their case;

    Those “appointed to die” are people without possessions or permanence. According to the Hebrew expression, these may be strangers just passing through or orphans who cannot support themselves. God is mindful of such and required this of Israelites (Deuteronomy 10:17-19). Solomon wisely ruled: “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be heard” (Proverbs 21:13). Never was this clearer than when Israelites were taken from their Promised Land because: “The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger” (Ezekiel 22:29);

    “Judge righteously” should be the outcry of all of God’s people. All judges and legal personnel should hear this command. Jesus has said: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24), for “in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5);

    “Plead the cause of the poor and needy,” for they cannot afford their own defense. The “poor and needy” are NOT those who demand their “right” to have the same possessions as those who have worked for what they have! The essentials of food and clothing are NOT in the same category as video games, big screen TV’s, cable, Internet, cars, or brand-name clothes!

    No nation or people will stand when citizens have little or no recourse for their grievances!

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • J. Randal Matheny 3:44 pm on 2014-01-15 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Judges, , The Way   

    Bible verse and lesson outline from Judges: quickly turned aside 

    judges-israelJudges 2.17 will be a major passage that I’ll work with this weekend at the northeast lectureship, as a I teach on the NT church as The Way:

    But they did not obey their leaders. Instead they prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned aside from the path their ancestors had walked. Their ancestors had obeyed the Lord’s commands, but they did not.

    Some of the points are: (More …)

     
  • Ron Thomas 7:00 am on 2013-04-02 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: impoverished, Judges, Midianites   

    IMPOVERISHED 

         For a period of about seven years the Israelites had to serve the Midianites (Judges 6:1-10). The reason for this servitude was the result of the evil the children of Israel engaged; actions that were contrary to the Lord’s purpose for them as a nation and as a people. The evil is not really identified, but the context includes the idea of choosing to worship another god along side of the Lord God. It seems that the Israelites failed to remember that the Lord will brook no compromise with anyone (cf. Exodus 20:1-3).

    The Midianites were rather severe in the implementation of their “lordship” over Israel. So much so the children of Israel became impoverished as a result of this exactitude in service that was required.

    Reflect for a moment on this impoverishment. The Scripture says there would be nothing left after Midian came in to this one particular area. You are a parent with four hungry children to feed; whatever crop you plant is not allowed to come to fruit, and if it does you have to do what you can to hide it (if you don’t you will lose it). You have hardly any earthly possessions, your clothes are ragged, the home in which you live is run down, and your family has been struck with seasonal sickness. It is enough to overwhelm a person.

    The experience, the Lord said, was because of disobedience to His will and purpose for the nation’s life (Judges 6:8-10). As I sit here writing this I can’t help but to think of a wife and the children having to suffer because of the male leadership in the home not doing what was required of the Lord. When the man (husband/father) does not lead there is an impoverishment in the area where he fails. With regard to spiritual matters, the Lord will do with male exactly as He called Adam in the long ago (Genesis 3:9). RT

     
    • Sebastian 7:40 am on 2013-04-02 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent post!

    • John Henson 10:27 am on 2013-04-02 Permalink | Reply

      Absolutely right! While it is possible to suffer for serving God, people suffer much more because they reject God and “worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator,” and “change the truth of God into a lie,” (Romans 1:25). Great application of the principle, too. Thanks, brother!

    • Ron Thomas 3:36 pm on 2013-04-02 Permalink | Reply

      I appreciate your kind remarks; thank you.

  • Ron Thomas 7:00 am on 2013-03-25 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Judges, , responibility   

    Those Who Outlived 

         The Scriptures reads, “So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:7, NKJV).

         Reflect upon this for a moment and consider a few points. First, the nation of Israel had a great leader in Joshua. He was a fortunate man who had a direct line of communication to the Lord; this was much different than that which any other had. With this fortunate avenue, however, came great responsibility. To him the Lord gave the responsibility of taking the nation into the promised land and executing the Lord’s will. To have failed the Lord would have been disastrous for him and the nation.

    Second, Joshua was not a man who could carry this burden all on his own. Whatever strength of character he had, he was still just a man. He needed others to help him and on whom which he could lean. The leadership of Joshua and men who were devoted to the Lord’s way brought much success to Israel. No matter what their failing might have been in the respective lives, because they were devoted to the Lord they had success.

    Third, the failings that did actually reside within the nation of Israel did eventually began to show its ugly head when Israel’s great leadership died (Judges 2:1-2).

    Why did this happen? I would like to suggest the following possibilities. First, the teaching that was supposed to be done may not have been accomplished to the degree that it should have been. It is important to remember that what the children are taught stays with them the remainder of their days.

    Second, it may have been that the leaders taught thoroughly and with much effort, but the children did not take the lessons learned to heart like they should have. That is always a possibility and one to not forget. Ultimately, whatever a person does, whether as a child or as an adult, it is the responsibility of the doer. I can well imagine some of the elders thinking and saying to their peers, “I am very comfortable with the next generation and the leadership they will be exerting. They have demonstrated themselves well as we have tried to lead and teach them.” This could be said with humility, but once the generation of the elders passed on, that which did not take root can (and did) manifest itself in an ugly way.

    Third, the teaching may have taken root and things may have started off well enough, but something occurred that distracted the faithful from the path set for them by the Lord. The distractions could have been any number of things; it really matters not what they were. Anything that distracts actually knocks us off track. When one is knocked off track he is bound to do nothing but crash.

    It is crucial that we, as parents and leaders in the congregation, instill within others the Lord’s way by the life we live and by the words we use to communicate. We must do this. Then, when they move up and take our place they will be in better position to move the Lord’s way forward and in accordance with His revealed will.

    In Judges 2:7-10, we read of a very sad occasion resting with a the following generation; let that not happen with us. RT

     
  • John T. Polk II 4:47 am on 2013-01-08 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , injustice, Judges, ,   

    Psalm 82 

    Vs. 1 gives the order of Judges and God is over all;

    Vs. 2-5 list abuses of Judges who have left God;

    Vs. 6-7 appeal for human Judges to change;

    Vs. 8 reminds all of the Supreme Judge.

    Asaph was “the seer” (prophet), and with David’s words (2 Chronicles 29:30), wrote 12 Psalms (50, 73-83). When Israel was restored to their land, they were reminded of these Psalms (Nehemiah 12:46).

    Verse1: Defines the order of Judges: God amidst the “gods” (or those designated to “judge” among men, but should be guided by God’s Will). This follows other references to this under Moses’ Law. “”You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” (Exodus 22:28). King Jehoshaphat “set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, ‘Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment’” (2 Chronicles 19:5-6). “If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them” (Ecclesiastes 5:8). Calling “judges” “gods” simply meant they were ordained to pass judgments on citizen behavior based upon God’s Holy Bible. Would that Judges today followed God’s Law, rather than man’s rules.

    Verses 2-5: Lists direct violations of God’s Law these Judges had made in their judgments: (verse 2) “unjustly,” “show partiality to the wicked”(Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17; Proverbs 18:5); (verse 3) uneven judgments involving “poor and needy,” or “afflicted and needy” (Exodus 22:21-22; 23:6); (verse 4) “poor and needy” delivered from the “hands of the wicked” (Psalm 37:14); (verse 5) Judges lacked knowledge of God’s Law, lacked judgment standards, and were reckless as if in the dark, which shakes the very foundation of a just society! This pathetic description of minds making decisions without God’s Word is used by Paul to show how pathetic people are in the world who refuse to follow the Bible (Ephesians 4:17-32) in obeying Jesus Christ. Every civil Judge today, regardless of rank or court, should be humbled and tremble before God with the seriousness of God’s expectations, and His final disposition of their opinions!

    Verses 6-7: They are reminded in verse 6 that, though they represented God’s judgments, they were still but “children of the Most High,” therefore subject to Him. Their elevated position would not keep them from dying “like men,” probably as despised dictators (verse 7).

    Jesus Christ quoted Psalm 82:6 to show that the term “gods” (Hebrew, Elohim) simply referred to “Judges,” and they were “children of the Most High.” If therefore, God called them “gods” how could anyone question Jesus referring to Himself as “The Son of God?” “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:34-36)

    Verse 8: The appeal is for the Highest Judge of all to exercise His righteous, just, and holy judgment upon all, including the unjust Judges. This is the promise of the New Testament (Acts 17:30-31).

    All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-12-12 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Judges   

    Reconciliation with Benjamin (JUDGES 21) 

    The final chapter of Judges is about reconciliation with Benjamin and about solving a problem that had been created by an oath Israel had made previously. “Now the men of Israel had sworn an oath at Mizpah, saying, ‘None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin as a wife.’ Then the people came to the house of God, and remained there before God till evening. They lifted up their voices and wept bitterly, and said, ‘O LORD God of Israel, why has this come to pass in Israel that today there should be one tribe missing in Israel?'” (21:1-3). Although they defeated Benjamin, no one is happy. These are fellow Israelites they had slain in this civil war, and they grieved over the loss (and rightfully so; cf. Ezek. 33:11). Since they had pledged not to give any wives to Benjamin, the 600 men who remained would have no way to perpetuate their tribe (without sinning by marrying foreigners). What could be done? Israel had punished Benjamin but did not want the tribe to become extinct.

    A solution is arrived at, and it is connected to another oath they had made at Mizpah. If any city in Israel was not represented in their meeting against Benjamin, that city would be destroyed. The nation had expected complete support from all the tribes against the terrible deed that had been done at Gibeah. Being lethargic or not wanting to get involved was deemed unacceptable and punishable! They learn that no one from Jabesh Gilead had supported the cause. “So the congregation sent out there twelve thousand of their most valiant men, and commanded them, saying, ‘Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead with the edge of the sword, including the women and children. And this is the thing that you shall do: You shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman who has known a man intimately.’ So they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead four hundred young virgins who had not known a man intimately; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan” (21:10-12).

    Although they could have completely destroyed all inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead, they spare the virgins in order to give them to the Benjamites. Israel announces peace with Benjamin and the 600 men return to their territory. They receive the 400 virgins as wives, but there remained 200 men of Benjamin who did not have a wife.

    “Then the elders of the congregation said, ‘What shall we do for wives for those who remain, since the women of Benjamin have been destroyed?’ And they said, ‘There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, that a tribe may not be destroyed from Israel. However, we cannot give them wives from our daughters, for the children of Israel have sworn an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be the one who gives a wife to Benjamin.’ Then they said, ‘In fact, there is a yearly feast of the LORD in Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.’ Therefore they instructed the children of Benjamin, saying, ‘Go, lie in wait in vineyards, and watch; and just when the daughters of Shiloh come out to perform their dances, then come out from the vineyards, and every man catch a wife for himself from the daughters of Shiloh; then go to the land of Benjamin. Then it shall be, when their fathers or their brothers come to us to complain, that we will say to them, ‘Be kind to them for our sakes, because we did not take a wife for any of them in the war; for it is not as though you have given the women to them at this time, making yourselves guilty of your oath'” (21:16-22).

    Although this solution may strike a chord of humor with us, it worked for them and the 200 men of Benjamin followed instructions and caught wives for themselves (i.e., they stole by consent)! The men of Benjamin then returned home and rebuilt their cities. The name of Benjamin was not extinguished in Israel! When reflecting upon Judges 19-21, it is incredible to contemplate that the immoral behavior of a small group of men led ultimately to a civil war where over 65,000 perished! Friends, our actions have consequences. Even behavior that we may deem to be small or insignificant in the scheme of things may have a dramatic impact in ways we cannot calculate. May we always seek to do what is right by God’s standard and trust Him to take care of us! Right always triumphs in the end!

    The book closes with a sentiment we have seen previously – “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25). If only God had truly been their king! That is what He desired; and His leadership is exactly what the nation needed!

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-12-09 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Judges   

    War Against Benjamin (JUDGES 20) 

    The Levite’s concubine had essentially been raped to death by perverted men from the tribe of Benjamin. He carried her corpse home with him on his donkey for a special reason. “When he entered his house he took a knife, laid hold of his concubine, and divided her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. And so it was that all who saw it said, ‘No such deed has been done or seen from the day that the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt, until this day. Consider it, confer, and speak up!'” (Jud. 19:29,30). The Levite used her corpse to send an important message to the twelve tribes of Israel. A great injustice had been committed and action needed to be taken! The tribes realize this is not an insignificant matter, so they assemble “as one man before the LORD at Mizpah” (20:1). Some 400,000 soldiers gather and ask for more information from the Levite. He spoke of the lewdness committed by the men of Gibeah (of the tribe of Benjamin). Their actions were outrageous and the nation was in agreement as to their response:

    “‘None of us will go to his tent, nor will any turn back to his house; but now this is the thing we will do to Gibeah: We will go up against it by lot. We will take ten men out of every hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, a hundred out of every thousand, and a thousand out of every ten thousand, to make provisions for the people, that when they come to Gibeah in Benjamin, they may repay all the vileness that they have done in Israel.’ So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united together as one man” (20:8-11).

    “Then the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, ‘What is this wickedness that has occurred among you? Now therefore, deliver up the men, the perverted men who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove the evil from Israel!’ But the children of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the children of Israel. Instead, the children of Benjamin gathered together from their cities to Gibeah, to go to battle against the children of Israel” (20:12-14). The nation has taken appropriate action here against Benjamin. They expect the wicked men who committed this crime to be turned over for execution. Such was in keeping with the Mosaic law. The tribe of Benjamin, however, instead of doing the right thing, protects the perverts and is willing to fight and die for them. How foolish! Friends, even if our own flesh and blood does wrong, we cannot defend and fight for family against the law of righteousness! It is a mistake to love family more than God and His ways (cf. Matt. 10:37).

    One would think a battle of 400,000 men versus 26,000 would not last long. However, Israel did not send up all of these men to fight at one time. “Then the children of Israel arose and went up to the house of God to inquire of God. They said, ‘Which of us shall go up first to battle against the children of Benjamin?’ The LORD said, ‘Judah first!’ So the children of Israel rose in the morning and encamped against Gibeah” (20:18,19). The first day of battle was disastrous for Israel! They lost 22,000 men and Benjamin lost less than 1000! But how can this be? After all, Israel is trying to execute justice, and they had consulted God regarding how to attack Benjamin! Why did they lose the first day? No answer is given in the text, but here is a reasonable suggestion: Israel was punished severely for their indirect role in the wickedness that had been committed at Gibeah. Had the Israelites driven out the foreigners completely to start with, then this problem of sexual immorality probably wouldn’t have happened! No doubt it was the corrupting influence of the Canaanite people where the men of Gibeah had learned their perverted behavior. Even though the nation is trying to do the right thing here, their behavior overall has been far from perfect (e.g., idolatry) and God may be using this as an occasion to discipline all of the tribes. There is a lesson here even for us: Success is not always guaranteed, even when we do the right thing! God may discipline us for illicit behavior on whatever time frame He sees fit. So, ultimately, do not allow physical success or failure to guide you; do what is right in God’s eyes and don’t quit–no matter what happens!

    “And the people, that is, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and again formed the battle line at the place where they had put themselves in array on the first day. Then the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I again draw near for battle against the children of my brother Benjamin?’ And the LORD said, ‘Go up against him'” (20:22,23). So, at God’s direction, they fight a second day. The results are not much different than the first! Benjamin suffers minimal losses and Israel loses another 18,000 men! Israel fasts and offers sacrifices to the LORD. Then they ask yet again if they should continue battling against Benjamin. “And the LORD said, ‘Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand'” (20:28).

    The third day of battle looked about the same as the others at the start, but Israel had an ambush for Benjamin and enjoyed a great victory by the end of the day. The ambush was similar to what had been effectively employed against the Canaanite city of Ai (cf. Josh. 8). “The LORD defeated Benjamin before Israel. And the children of Israel destroyed that day twenty-five thousand one hundred Benjamites; all these drew the sword” (20:35). “And the men of Israel turned back against the children of Benjamin, and struck them down with the edge of the sword–from every city, men and beasts, all who were found. They also set fire to all the cities they came to” (20:48). In all, only 600 men of the tribe of Benjamin survived! That’s less than 3% of all their warriors! These 600 men fled to the wilderness for safety and remained there four months. All women and children of Benjamin perished when their cities were destroyed.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-12-07 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Judges   

    Micah’s Idolatry Spreads (JUDGES 18) 

    Although Micah had made his own god and priest, things do not go well for him as he expected. Judges 18 records the loss of his idols and priest to the tribe of Dan.

    The Danites were “seeking an inheritance” for themselves (cf. Josh. 19:47,48). In other words, they still had not inhabited the full portion of land that was to be theirs in Canaan; there was more conquering to be done. Five men of Dan are sent out as spies and they happened to lodge with Micah in route. They are impressed with Micah’s priest, recognized him as a Levite by his speech, and asked counsel of him: Would their current mission be prosperous? Micah’s priest replied – “Go in peace. The presence of the LORD be with you on your way” (Jud. 18:6). His advice turned out to be good, which shows us that even false prophets get it right some of the time (cf. Deut. 13:1-5). As a side note, even today people can recognize us by our speech–whether it be good or bad. Let us always take heed to our speech (cf. Matt. 12:36,37; Col. 4:6).

    The spies from Dan depart and determine that the territory they desire to conquer is both good and easy to claim. The current inhabitants lacked treaties and would not be able to withstand an attack from the tribe of Dan, the spies believed. After the spies return, 600 men from Dan take up weapons and begin the journey to Laish to conquer it. On their way the group stopped at Micah’s house. They greeted him and proceeded to take “the carved images, the ephod, the household idols, and the molded image” (Jud. 18:17). The priest objected, but they replied – “Be quiet, put your hand over your mouth, and come with us; be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest to the household of one man, or that you be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?” (18:19). This pleased the priest and he doesn’t mind stealing from Micah in order to accept this promotion! Some preachers today are only interested in personal gain; they have more in common with this Levite than they do the Lord! “The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep” (John 10:13).

    “Then they turned and departed, and put the little ones, the livestock, and the goods in front of them” (18:21). This was a tactical move; they evidently expect Micah to gather some resistance against them and try to attack them from the rear. Micah does try to organize such a party but it is small and weak compared to the Danites.

    “And they called out to the children of Dan. So they turned around and said to Micah, ‘What ails you, that you have gathered such a company?’ So he said, ‘You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and you have gone away. Now what more do I have? How can you say to me, “What ails you?”‘ And the children of Dan said to him, ‘Do not let your voice be heard among us, lest angry men fall upon you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household!’ Then the children of Dan went their way. And when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house” (18:23-26).

    What a sad day for Micah the idolater! After being robbed and now threatened by this large force of men, he realizes this is a lost cause and gives up. Evidently his gods weren’t worth dying for (but the true God is!). When there is no ruler in the land, the strongest do as they please and get away with it (in the temporal realm anyway). One can only wonder if Micah went home and made some more useless gods for himself!

    It would have been one thing for the men of Dan to take away the items of false worship in order to destroy them, but unfortunately that was not their intent. They, after successfully conquering Laish, “set up for themselves the carved image; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh” (18:30,31). Like leaven, the sins of one man (if unchecked) spread to a larger group of people. The captivity referenced here is certainly not the Babylonian captivity but one of the periods of captivity prior to the reign of King David (e.g., I Sam. 13:19,20).

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-12-06 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Judges   

    Micah’s Idolatry (JUDGES 17) 

    Judges 17 is the beginning of the closing section of the book of Judges. The book contains no further record of the judges of Israel or of deliverance from enemy oppression. However, these final chapters do give us a better sense of a phrase we have seen repeatedly throughout the book – “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD” (2:11; 3:7,12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1). There was widespread religious corruption among the Israelites. They were not remaining true to God and His word, and it shows in these final five chapters.

    “Now there was a man from the mountains of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. And he said to his mother, ‘The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you, and on which you put a curse, even saying it in my ears–here is the silver with me; I took it.’ And his mother said, ‘May you be blessed by the LORD, my son!’ So when he had returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, ‘I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image; now therefore, I will return it to you.’ Thus he returned the silver to his mother. Then his mother took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to the silversmith, and he made it into a carved image and a molded image; and they were in the house of Micah. The man Micah had a shrine and made an ephod and household idols; and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 17:1-6).

    Micah had stolen a large sum of money from his mother but then restored it since he feared her curse. She desired to make images that Micah could put in his shrine. There are numerous problems with Micah’s behavior when measured against the standard of the Mosaic law. Besides the sin of stealing, he had no right to possess household idols (his mother had no right to commission them), nor was there a need to create a shrine, an ephod, or one’s own priesthood! Indeed, Micah’s actions here are tragic indeed, but he wasn’t alone in this type of behavior. Since the nation lacked a leader (or, more accurately, weren’t following God as their true leader) the people did whatever they thought was right and good, but sometimes what they believed to be good was far from it. Being guided by one’s own opinions is always dangerous (cf. Prov. 14:12). The Israelites should have been sacrificing at the tabernacle only by means of the Levitical priests God appointed. Also, creating idols was wrong–even if they were only intended to be representations of Jehovah and not some pagan deity (cf. Exo. 20:4-6; e.g., Exo. 32:4; I Kings 12:28). Micah is inventing his own worship and religion, and God is not pleased!

    “Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah; he was a Levite, and was staying there. The man departed from the city of Bethlehem in Judah to stay wherever he could find a place. Then he came to the mountains of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, as he journeyed. And Micah said to him, ‘Where do you come from?’ So he said to him, ‘I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am on my way to find a place to stay.’ Micah said to him, ‘Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten shekels of silver per year, a suit of clothes, and your sustenance.’ So the Levite went in. Then the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man became like one of his sons to him. So Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and lived in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, ‘Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!'” (17:7-13).

    Under the Mosaic law, the Levites were to be provided for indirectly, primarily through the sacrifices and offerings of the nation. Why is this young man out looking for work and a place to stay? The most likely answer is that much of the nation was not following the pattern of true worship God had set forth, and the young man’s needs are not being met. If true, this conveys much about the widespread nature of Israel’s spiritual decay. Micah invites this man to be a priest for him and a spiritual father. Micah will take care of him if he would be willing to worship as Micah prescribes. Evidently the young man lacked conviction for truth since he gladly agrees. Micah “consecrated” the man as a priest, not by God’s authority but by his own! He deceives himself into a false sense of security by thinking that now God will be pleased with him since he has a Levite for a priest. Micah evidently realizes that there is a pattern, and he wants to imitate it to the extent that it is convenient for him. He believed that rituals and forms of religion would bring him blessings, but he was mistaken (cf. I Sam. 15:22). This is tragically quite similar to the behavior of many today who want to live for themselves yet have a dose of Christianity on the side. It just doesn’t work that way, friends (cf. Matt. 6:33; 16:24)! God expects complete submission to His will!

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-12-05 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Judges   

    Paradoxes of Samson (JUDGES 13-16) 

    Our lessons last week focused upon the life of Samson. Today we will conclude this series on Samson by considering six paradoxes of this great man of faith. These paradoxes should help us remember the key points in Samson’s life.

    PARADOX #1: SAMSON WAS RELIGIOUS YET REBELLIOUS.
    Since there was no one suitable to lead the Israelites against the Philistines, God saw fit to raise up a special man for the task. Samson was “a Nazirite unto God from the womb” (Jud. 13:5). A casual reading of that chapter reveals that the parents of Samson were God-fearing people. They were religious and undoubtedly reared their son to be religious also. However, even though Samson was brought up in a spiritually rich and wholesome environment, he later rebelled. When he was contemplating marriage, he was encouraged to seek a wife from among his own people. He rebelled against the wisdom of his parents and married a Philistine woman. His rebellious nature was further manifested in his illicit sexual encounters. The purity of life which should have characterized one separated to God by the Nazirite vow was mocked by his associations with the harlot in Gaza and also Delilah (Jud. 16:1-21). His rebellious attitude cost him dearly (Jud. 14:20; 16:21).

    PARADOX #2: SAMSON WAS CONSECRATED YET CORRUPT.
    Samson was separated to God from before his birth through the Nazirite vow or a divine modification of it. Thus, he was a consecrated man. However, Samson did not keep the vow as faithfully as he should have. He corrupted himself sexually as noted above. Additionally, he disobeyed God by cutting his hair. It is true that he did not personally cut his hair, but he allowed it to happen. He behaved in an irresponsible way.

    PARADOX #3: SAMSON WAS KNOWLEDGEABLE YET NAIVE.
    Samson’s intelligence and resourcefulness are demonstrated in several ways in the divine record (e.g., the riddle he posed, the manner in which he paid off his debt of thirty garments, his burning of the Philistine crops, the use of a donkey’s jawbone in battle, the removal of city gates to escape, as well as the destruction of the temple of Dagon). But, in spite of moments of brilliance, he often acted foolishly, even naively. His association with Delilah in Judges 16 is a source of constant amazement to me. His previous dealings with the Philistines should have taught him many lessons, not the least of which that they could not be trusted. Also, the first three attempts of Delilah to ascertain the source of Samson’s strength ended with her trying to strip him of that strength. Was he so naive to think that she wouldn’t test him again after he “told her all his heart” (16:7)? Why would Samson knowingly reveal such information to one who had demonstrated not once but three times that she could not be trusted? It truly boggles the mind.

    PARADOX #4: SAMSON WAS AWARE YET APATHETIC.
    Samson knew that the Philistines were nothing but trouble, but he dove into relationship after relationship with them. He knew better than to do this and was certainly aware of the danger he was putting himself in. But, his selfish impulses, combined with an outlook of indifference, ultimately lead to his demise. It appears that he simply didn’t care about the foolish risks he took in his life. One cannot help but wonder if this attitude emerged over the years as a result of trusting in his own physical strength instead of God who made that strength possible!

    PARADOX #5: SAMSON WAS A LEADER YET A LONER.
    Samson, as a leader of Israel, had little support from his brethren. Throughout the narrative of his life, he is seen as a solitary figure standing against the numerous, uncircumcised Philistines. On one occasion, his brethren even turned upon him to deliver him to the enemy for fear of their safety (Jud. 15:9-13). They were content with the situation as it was. They were content with being oppressed by the Philistines! How tragic that they did not rally behind Samson as the leader God had raised up for them!

    PARADOX #6: SAMSON WAS FORCEFUL YET FEEBLE.
    The physical strength which Samson possessed is the quality that stands out in the minds of most people. His “Herculean” feats astound young readers and amaze older ones. He is sometimes pictured as a massive, powerful specimen of muscular physique. However, the source of his strength is often overlooked. It is not to be found in the bulk of his body or even in the length of his locks of hair. His strength was found in “the Spirit of the Lord” which “came upon him mightily” from time to time (e.g., Jud. 13:25; 14:6,19; 15:14). His uncut hair was symbolic of his obedience and he did need it to be strong, but his strength itself certainly wasn’t in his hair–it was in the Lord! It should be noted that it was when Samson was with an ungodly associate that he relinquished the source of his strength. This man of great force was reduced to a feeble boy in the presence of Delilah. It is still true today that ungodly associates cause many people to relinquish the source of their strength. As Paul proclaimed – “Evil companions corrupt good morals” (I Cor. 15:33).

    If I only had a few sentences to sum up Samson’s life, I’d use a quote from Old Testament scholars Keil and Delitzsch: “Samson, when strong and brave, strangled a lion; but he could not strangle his own love. He burst the fetters of his foes, but not the cords of his own lusts. He burned up the crops of others, and lost the fruit of his own virtue when burning with the flame kindled by a single woman.”

    There are other lessons from Samson’s life that could be analyzed, no doubt. But, no matter how long we could continue to enumerate them, they will do little good if left unapplied to our lives. Don’t be too quick to criticize Samson and his character flaws. We often share many of these same paradoxes. Here are just a few applications for Christians to reflect upon and ask themselves:

    Am I guilty of rebelling against the Lord’s will? We are called to be sanctified, or separated to God, but many Christians try to befriend the world. One cannot be a friend of the world without becoming an enemy of God (James 4:4). No man can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24). We cannot hold God’s hand and pat Satan on the back–it just won’t work!
    Am I growing in knowledge of the Holy Scriptures daily? Am I striving to become more wise (Matt. 10:16; James 1:5)? Or, am I still as naive as I was when I first obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ?
    Am I zealous to do what I know is right or am I afflicted with a spirit of apathy and selfishness (Rev. 3:15-17)?
    Am I being the kind of leader that God expects me to be for my family and Christian brethren? Am I endeavoring to work with others (and not against them) for the cause of Christ?
    Am I allowing myself to be led into sin by corrupting influences? Am I choosing my companions wisely or carelessly?

    Dare we sit here in judgment and condemn Samson for his failures? I think not. Especially since, when all was said and done, Samson was faithful! The only way in which I can explain why Samson is listed in Hebrews 11 as a great man of faith is because of his repentance! Samson’s overall life could arguably be described as one governed by faith in Jehovah. But, it is obvious that he was a sinner. Of course, this is true of us, as well as all those who found their way into the list of Hebrews 11. All had blemishes to overcome, but all overcame them to live lives dedicated to the service of God. Many of them were far from perfect, but they were faithful! When one considers the failings of these heroes, let him remember that divine approval of an individual in one aspect of his life does not necessarily imply that there is divine approval of that individual in all aspects of his character and conduct.

    As one reads Judges 16:28-31, Samson’s repentance should be evident. Samson had faith in God. He asked for Jehovah to remember him. Samson had enjoyed fellowship with God. He asked God to strengthen him one more time. No doubt Samson remembered the times he and the Lord had reaped victories for the cause of Israel against the Philistines. Samson’s final act was for God, and that’s why he is a great man of faith!

    But, what about you and I? Our history is being written too, so to speak. The decisions we make in our lifetime and the way in which we serve God will ultimately determine whether we too will be great men and women of faith. What do you think would have happened to Samson had he died before he restored his fellowship with God? He would have been lost! However, because of Samson’s repentance, the Lord accepted him again, allowing him to do his greatest work in his death. God has the same grace for His people who will return to Him today.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-12-02 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Judges   

    Samson, Part 5 (JUDGES 16) 

    As we continue in Judges 16:4ff, Samson’s lust is seen again in his relationship with Delilah. She was bribed with a large amount of silver in order to deceive Samson and discover the source of his strength. She began by simply asking him to tell her his secret. He first told her that he would lose his strength if he was bound with fresh bow strings. She tested him after he had fallen asleep and he broke the bow strings like a strand of yarn that had touched fire. Samson had lied to Delilah, and she cried about being deceived and mocked. He then lied to her again by telling her that new ropes would be able to restrain him. She tested him in the same manner and learned that he had lied to her a second time. Delilah was deceived yet a third time by weaving his hair into the web of a loom. Samson came dangerously close to telling his secret on that third occasion.

    “And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart, and said to her, ‘No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.'” (Jud. 16:16,17). Samson finally gave in to her nagging and told her the truth. It should be obvious that Samson cared for Delilah. If he didn’t, why would he have even bothered to answer her pestering? Of course, it should have been obvious to him that she tested everything he told her! Was he really so foolish to think that she wouldn’t try shaving him too? Or, had he deceived himself into thinking that he was a strong man–with or without his hair?

    Whatever he was or wasn’t thinking, Delilah lulled him to sleep and had his head shaved in Judges 16:18-20. One of the special conditions that set Samson apart had been broken and the Lord and his miraculous strength had departed.

    Samson was consequently easily captured without his miraculous strength. His eyes were put out and he was used as slave labor. He was also mocked for the Philistines’ entertainment. However, the outward sign of his strength began to come back. The Philistines were careless in not keeping him shaved bald.

    On one occasion, the Philistine leaders were gathered together to offer a sacrifice to their god, Dagon, and they had Samson brought in for entertainment purposes. No doubt they wanted to celebrate their victory over him and hurl insults and abuse at him again. However, they made a terrible mistake in putting him near the support pillars of their temple. “Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, ‘O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!’ And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. Then Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life” (Jud. 16:28-30).

    Samson had come to learn that his strength was in Jehovah. This was not a suicide but a plunging into battle for Jehovah, knowing that death would come. The Lord approved of it by granting Samson the strength to perform the task. He killed approximately 3000 men and women on that occasion, and he also destroyed the house of Dagon. As our record of Samson’s life closes, we see him being given a proper burial by his family.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-12-01 Permalink | Reply
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    Samson, Part 4 (JUDGES 15 & 16) 

    “Now the Philistines went up, encamped in Judah, and deployed themselves against Lehi. And the men of Judah said, ‘Why have you come up against us?’ So they answered, ‘We have come up to arrest Samson, to do to him as he has done to us.’ Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, ‘Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? What is this you have done to us?’ And he said to them, ‘As they did to me, so I have done to them'” (Jud. 15:9-11). It was a sad day in Israel on several accounts. First, God’s people were subject to the Philistines because of their sins. Second, the men of Judah did not recognize that Samson was a deliverer for them. They should have rallied around him and driven the Philistines out! But, their overall attitude was poor. They seemed satisfied being in bondage to the Philistines.

    It would be easy to think that Samson was fearful for his life because of the three thousand men of Judah who came down to arrest him. But, I believe he was actually fearful for their lives! Note carefully what Samson made them promise – “Swear to me that you will not kill me yourselves” (Jud. 15:12). Why would Samson be afraid of the Israelites trying to kill him if he was not fearful of being turned over to the Philistines bound? I believe the answer is simple. Samson was not afraid of the Israelites, but he didn’t want to end up hurting them if they attempted to kill him. Samson allowed them to arrest him and deliver him to the Philistines bound in two new ropes.

    “When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it” (Jud. 15:14,15). With the Lord’s help, Samson piled up heaps of dead bodies on the battle field. He was invincible as long as Almighty God was with him! What a sight it would have been to see one man take on an army–with hand-to-hand combat–and win! How could this not inspire his fellow Israelites to fight alongside of him and overthrow the Philistines?

    The chapter closes with Samson acknowledging Jehovah as his strength and the true victor. He then requested water and was divinely given such. We also learn that Samson judged Israel for a span of twenty years. These events happened somewhere amidst those years.

    JUDGES 16
    Samson’s lust is apparent in this context. First, he had sexual relations with a harlot. Some of his enemies learned that he was spending the night with her, and they planned to kill him at daylight. However, he rose at midnight and left the city by pulling up the doors of a city gate and its gateposts and by carrying them some distance. Although commentators disagree on the distance, most believe it was at least several miles and up a hill. Although the size and weight of the load he was carrying is unknown today, it is obvious that the task required extreme strength that the Holy Spirit gave to Samson at that time.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-11-30 Permalink | Reply
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    Samson, Part 3 (JUDGES 14 & 15) 

    It was a custom in Samson’s day for the bridegroom to give a party which typically lasted for a week. Since Samson didn’t bring any friends to celebrate his marriage to the Philistine young woman, her people provided some for him–thirty in all. Samson made a wager with these men that lasted for the entire celebration week. If they could solve his riddle, he would give them thirty fine outer and inner garments. However, if they could not figure it out, they would have to give him thirty sets of clothing.

    The riddle was stated as follows: “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet” (Jud. 14:14). They struggled mightily with the riddle for three days but then let it rest until the seventh day. On that final day, they brought pressure upon Samson’s bride by threatening her life and her family if she didn’t help them solve the riddle.

    “Then Samson’s wife wept on him, and said, ‘You only hate me! You do not love me! You have posed a riddle to the sons of my people, but you have not explained it to me.’ And he said to her, ‘Look, I have not explained it to my father or my mother; so should I explain it to you?'” (Jud. 14:16). Samson brought up a good point. He wasn’t being unkind or unloving to her by withholding the solution to the riddle. After all, he had not even shared it with his parents! His bride had wanted to know the answer all along, but after the threats were leveled against her she grows desperately persistent. She would have been much better off simply informing Samson of the threats her people had made against her.

    Samson finally explained the riddle to her and she then communicated its meaning to the sons of her people. They gave the correct solution to his riddle and he reacted strongly. “The Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused and he went back up to his father’s house” (Jud. 14:19). I find the order of the actions recorded here intriguing: (1) the Spirit came upon Samson, (2) he slew the Philistines, (3) then his anger was kindled, and finally, (4) he went back to his father’s house without his wife. The Lord was indeed seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines, and Samson was the man He would use for the job!

    The chapter closes with Samson’s wife being given to his best man. Samson was not aware of this.

    JUDGES 15
    After a period of time, Samson returned to his wife but was offered her younger sister instead by his father-in-law. Samson was greatly displeased and declared his innocence for his actions to follow because of this injustice. He proceeded to burn the Philistine fields by releasing 300 foxes he captured (after tying them together in pairs with a lit torch between their tails). Surprisingly, the Philistine people do not pursue Samson after learning who was responsible for the destruction of their crops and why. They recognized that his rights as a husband had been violated. They show their cruelty, however, by burning his wife and father-in-law and their home. This action provokes Samson to seek further vengeance. He attacked them with “hip and thigh, with a great slaughter” (Jud. 15:8). In other words, his attack upon them was brutal and unmerciful. But, this was just the beginning of the bloodshed.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-11-29 Permalink | Reply
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    Samson, Part 2 (JUDGES 13 & 14) 

    In Judges 13:6ff, Manoah’s wife informed him of the Angel’s visit and His conversation with her. Their son would be a Nazirite from the very beginning. Samson would have no choice in the matter! Manoah then prayed for the Angel to return, and his petition was answered. The Angel came again and repeated His message. It is of interest to note that Manoah’s wife was personally bound by the Nazirite conditions even while she was pregnant. The implication is crystal clear–life begins at conception! If life didn’t begin until birth, then she would not have been required to keep any aspects of the Nazirite vow for the sake of an “embryo” growing inside of her. This very context proves that abortion is wrong. Samson would be a Nazirite even before he was born. There are many other Bible passages that also teach the truth about life beginning at conception.

    The chapter closes by sharing some details pertaining to the Angel’s second visit as well as the fulfillment of the prophecy pertaining to Samson’s birth. Manoah offered to be hospitable to the Angel, but He declared that He would not eat anything. However, if Manoah desired, he could make an offering to Jehovah. Manoah wished to honor the Angel, but the Angel answered Him rather enigmatically – “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?” (Jud. 13:18; cf. Isa. 9:6). As a side note, I believe that the Angel of Jehovah is the second Person of the Godhead (i.e., the Angel of the LORD is the same Being we know today as Jesus the Christ). It is not in the scope of this study to prove such, but we will plan to undertake this task in the future.

    As the Angel of the LORD departed, He did so in the flame of the altar. Manoah and his wife were convinced that they had seen God Himself. He feared for their lives, but she wisely pointed out – “If the LORD had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have told us such things as these at this time” (Jud. 13:23).

    JUDGES 14
    The transition from chapter 13 into chapter 14 covers many years. We know nothing of Samson’s childhood. He was already grown up at this time. In fact, he was of marriageable age–and the LORD was with him.

    Samson foolishly desired a Philistine wife. His parents were against the idea, but the Lord was working in the matter. God intended to seek “an occasion to move against the Philistines” who had dominion over the Israelites at that time (14:4).

    “So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well” (Jud. 14:5-7). The killing of a lion with his bare hands certainly demonstrated Samson’s miraculous physical strength which was made possible via the Nazirite vow and God’s favor. The woman pleased Samson very much; he planned to marry her.

    “After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion” (Jud. 14:8,9). In that area, the intense heat has been known to dry up the moisture in a carcass within a day or so. Then it would lie mummified for some time. This experience would inspire the riddle Samson would soon pose.

     
  • Stephen R. Bradd 5:00 am on 2011-11-28 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Judges   

    Samson, Part 1 (JUDGES 13) 

    Hebrews 11:6 teaches – “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” There are some important things we can learn from this context about faith. First, one who has no faith is one who cannot please God. This is true no matter how morally upright a person may be. Genuine faith is not guesswork; it is not a blind leap into the dark. Faith is always based on evidence – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (11:1). Faith is believing and trusting God (i.e., taking Him at His word). Additionally, God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Those who choose to serve Him and live obediently to His will at any cost will not go unnoticed by the Lord.

    Without question, the importance of faith is a central theme of the Scriptures. From the beginning, God has always expected man to exhibit faith. But, how can an individual demonstrate his faith? The answer: through his actions! A mere verbal acknowledgment of belief in God has never been enough. A study of James 2:14ff reveals that God desires that we prove our faith through obedience! It is still true that “faith without works is dead” (2:26).

    It is accurate to affirm that all of the great men and women of faith of the Bible had an active, obedient faith. This was true of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and many others–including Samson (cf. Heb. 11, especially verse 32).

    Admittedly, when I think of Biblical characters known for great faith in God, Samson typically doesn’t come to mind. When I think of Samson, I envision a man with great physical strength who had little self-control. I picture a man who violated his Nazirite vow, chose evil companions, fornicated, and caused an idol to receive glory that belonged to Jehovah. But, in spite of his flaws, Samson is proclaimed as a hero of faith according to Hebrews 11. We will study his life this week and examine the key events that were recorded for us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is our desire to learn what we can from his successes and mistakes.

    We will begin by considering Judges 13-16. These four chapters are all we have recorded pertaining to the life of Samson, the thirteenth judge of Israel. Four chapters is not much in comparison with some Biblical characters, but it is quite a bit of information in contrast to what we have available on some of the other judges.

    We will not read the chapters in their entirety due to time constraints, but we will read certain verses and summarize what is happening in the text.

    JUDGES 13
    In verse 1, we see apostasy in the nation of Israel once again – “Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.” Then, we are introduced to Manoah and his barren wife. The Angel of the Lord visited her and delivered a promise of a son. Undeniably, a family with no children is a good type to place a child in when special care is required. Three specific conditions were given by the Angel regarding the child who would be born. First, he was not to partake of strong drink. In fact, he was to abstain from the fruit of the vine period. Second, he was to avoid ingesting any unclean food. Finally, he was not to allow a razor to touch his head. The second condition was really not special in that no Israelite was to eat unclean food. However, the other two conditions were unique and included in what was called the Nazirite vow. This vow is explained in detail in Numbers 6. It seems that a special case of the Nazirite vow was in force for Samson since he was not prohibited from touching the dead. Obviously, God would not require him to fight in battle and also expect him not to go near dead bodies. Therefore, it appears as if Samson lived under a modified version of the Nazirite vow, and he was to do so for life. His life would also be special in that he would “begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Jud. 13:5).

     
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