Samson – Hero of Faith

Saturday – Judges 16-18

Judges Devotions-6

Weird people are my kind of people, and Samson definitely brings weird to a whole new level. We’ve seen Samson rip a lion apart with his bare hands, tie 300 burning foxes in pairs by their tails, and kill a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey.

God wanted Samson to follow through on his Nazirite vow, which involved abstaining from cutting his hair, drinking wine, and going near dead bodies (Numbers 6:1-8). In this way, Samson would be set apart from the rest of the world—sanctified and pure. However, he eats honey from a lion’s carcass, is tricked by Delilah into cutting his hair, and disappoints God in a dozen other ways. He’s hot-headed, prideful, and is obsessed with revenge; yet, in his weirdness and messiness, Samson is commended for his faith. He is mentioned in Hebrews 11, as a hero of great faith.

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (Hebrews 11:32-34).

Samson’s life ended with one act of great faith. After losing his hair, the source of his God-given strength, Samson was captured by the Philistines. They gouged out his eyes and threw him in prison. Since Samson was the Philistine’s public enemy number one, they ridiculed him in the temple for their own entertainment. On that day, Samson made one final request to God:

“Then Samson prayed to the Lord, ‘Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes’” (Judges 16:28).

God used Samson’s physical weakness and his obsession for revenge, turning it into strength. With a surge of God’s power, Samson pushed on the pillars of the temple, crushing the temple and all the Philistines in it. Samson was messy, but God used him to bring the Israelites closer to liberation from the Philistines. We, like Samson, are never too messy to be used by God.

In fact, when we believe we are too messy to be used by God, it’s God’s power we underestimate, not our own. He wants to transform your messiness for his glory. Will you be transparent in giving God the glory as he transforms your mess? What weaknesses of yours can you surrender to God to be redeemed as strengths? What messy people in your life, the same people God sees value in, are you avoiding?

Mackenzie McClain

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=judges+16-18&version=NIV

Thank you, Mackenzie for your writing this week!  Tomorrow, as we start a new week, Bethany Ligon will discuss the final chapters of Judges for us, and then take us into Ruth and 1 Samuel during the rest of the week.  Keep Reading – Seeking – Growing & Loving!  We have a great God!

2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

In Your Waiting God is Working

Friday – Judges 13-15

Judges Devotions-5

Waiting is hard, like really hard. Most boxes of frozen foods give two sets of directions, one for the microwave and one for the oven. I’m the kind of person who always picks the microwave.  I’m also the kind of person who abandons a movie if it hasn’t struck my interest in the first five minutes, and you bet I’ve read the last page of every book I start because I can’t wait to see how it ends. On every road trip, I ask “Are we there yet?” dozens of times.

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years” (Judges 13:1). The Israelites have fallen back into sin and in desperation, they call out to God… and wait.

Suffering for forty years, I imagine many Israelites were wondering what God was doing in their waiting. Did He hear their prayers? Did He still care for them?

Another woman, Manoah’s wife, was also waiting, but for a child. “A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth” (Judges 13:2).

Even when they could not see it, in their waiting God was working. You see, the answer to Manoah’s wife’s prayer was also the answer to the Israelites’ prayers.

“The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, ‘You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines’” (Judges: 13:3-5).

This baby boy, Samson, grew up to liberate his people from the Philistines. In those forty years of waiting, God was preparing for them a leader who would bring deliverance.

Are you in a season of waiting? Whether you’re waiting for a promotion, a spouse, a child, a house, a cure, or a plan, God hears your prayers. Child of God, your heart’s deepest desires are in the hands of the Almighty; in the meantime, trust that God is working. Maybe He isn’t working in the way you’re expecting, but He is still working.

We’ll jump more into Samson’s (spoiler alert: crazy) life tomorrow, but for today I want to leave you with scripture that has encouraged me in my times of waiting:

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7).

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13 & 14).

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope (Psalm 130:5).

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31).

In your waiting, He hears you. He fights for you. He is working.

Mackenzie McClain

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=judges+13-15&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Judges 16-18 as we finish another week on our  2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan. And, it’s always a great place to start up, too!

The Company You Keep (Judges 16-18)

Wednesday, October 5

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Shelby Upton

Samson and Delilah is a well known Bible story. He was a Nazarite, his strength lay with that vow and uncut hair, Delilah betrays him and cuts off his hair.  The end.  But this story is much sadder and contains much deeper betrayal than that sparknotes version.
We don’t get much back story on their relationship but he was in love with her. The one person who should never have betrayed him sold him out to the Philistine leaders to discover his weakness. We know that Samson was clever–from his riddles and also telling Delilah multiple ways that would not take his strength. In Judges 16 however it says that due to her nagging day after day she wore him out and he told her the truth of his strength.
It was all over after that. It says that his strength and God had left him when his hair was cut off and his vow was broken.  After the Philistines gouged out his eyes God does return his strength for one last act of vengeance that resulted in his death and the death of a multitude of Philistines by pulling down the pillars of the temple.
When I look over this story I am heart broken for Samson. I truly see that he chose the wrong path and bad company over and over again.  Delilah was not someone to be trusted let alone a woman who would strengthen him as a judge and support his Nazarite vow.  She performed the act that broke his vow and caused God to leave Samson! This is a very extreme case of bad company but in our own lives we are influenced by and become like the people we are around. Bad company can wear us down just like Delilah wore Samson down.  We shouldn’t shut ourselves off from influencing others for good but the closest company we keep needs to be supporting our relationship with God and spurring us on towards righteousness.
Do you feel a divide between you and God? Take a look at the friendships around you, your significant other–what can you say for the company you have been keeping and how they have or have not been helping you grow in your relationship with God.

But I Want What I Want! (Judges 12-15)

Tuesday, October 4

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Shelby Upton
In Judges 12-15 Samson is set apart before birth to be a man of God and his mother remained faithful in the Lord’s instruction. In the following account of his life there are some really strange stories–mostly including animals… the lion, the bees, the foxes, the donkey. Need I go on?
I see Samson’s actions and read and I can’t help but wonder–what was he thinking? You were set apart by God and you are running around doing ridiculous things! At the heart of many of these acts I think Samson’s passion and pride get the best of him.  When Samson sees the Philistine woman in spite of his parent’s suggestion and the fact that she didn’t share his faith he says “I want her!” and gets her.
He thinks he is sooo clever and comes up with a riddle to taunt the Philistines which does nothing but stir up trouble. In these accounts I see Samson using his strength and cunning to serve his own passions and agendas–not to glorify God. Even though the Spirit of the Lord was on Samson to serve God’s purposes I can’t help but come back to Samson’s impulsive selfishness.
God’s blessing does not give us the right to use the gifts he has given us for our own amusement or to do things that go outside of his laws.  What God has given us needs to be used to glorify him in righteousness. Although Samson did some pretty awesome things we need to continue to focus on using our God given gifts to bless God in humility with his direction.