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JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTER 9 (ABIMELECH)

In the closing verses of Judges chapter 8 readers are informed of the birth of Abimelech, the son of Gideon and a concubine, and the return of Israel to idolatry by worshipping the god of Baal and Baal-berith. So, chapter 9 is devoted to sharing the story of Abimelech who is not a judge but an ambitious, unprincipled, treacherous, conniving murderer.

Unlike his father Gideon, Abimelech wanted to be a king, therefore he went to his mother’s relatives who resided in Shechem and had them ask the other residents of the city, “Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” The response that they received was that they preferred Abimelech and they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith which Abimelech used to hire mercenaries who assisted him in killing his sixty-nine half-brothers, after which the Shechemites and all the house of Millo, made Abimelech their king.

Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon who managed to escape the slaughter, fled to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted down a parable to the Shechemites. This parable depicted the rivalry between several trees and their response to an offer of a kingly position. All declined except the bramble tree which was the most worthless of the group. Plus, Jotham closed the parable with a malediction and prophetic declaration on Abimelech and the Shechemites for killing his brothers.

Abimelech experienced peace for the first three years of his reign, and then God decided it was time for retribution. God sent a spirit of animosity between Abimelech and the Shechemites and the Shechemites turned against Abimelech and caused embarrassment and economic problems for him by ambushing travelers on the trade route in their area.

Additionally, Gaal the son of Ebed came to Shechem: and the Shechemites put their trust in him. During a festival of the grape harvest, he wooed the people and publicly challenged the reign of Abimelech. When Abimelech was informed of the actions of Gaal by Zebul a ruler in Shechem they devised a plan of attack on Shechem which was successfully carried out. For several days Abimelech, his mercenaries, and Zebul fought against Gaal resulting in Gaal leaving Shechem, many men being wounded and killed, the city destroyed, and the tower of Shechem set on fire killing about a thousand men and women that was inside of it.

Abimelech last act was to go and capture Thebez; however, there was a strong tower within the city into which the men and women of the city fled, and when Abimelech came to the tower he attempted to set it on fire, but a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon his head which fractured his skull. Abimelech requested his armor bearer to kill him so that men would not say of him, “A women slew him.” Thus, the armor bearer complied and Abimelech died.

Conclusion: The men of Shechem placed family loyalty ahead of integrity.

Of all the trees in the parable (olive, fig, vine, and bramble) the bramble which is a thorn bush and known to cause fires was the least valuable. This thorn bush (Abimelech) was whom men chose to rule them.

A murderer does not mind who he kills.

People tend to forget the things people do for them.

Men hearts are easily turned. People will promote you and then demote you.

God will permit discord to punish men for their sinful acts.

Abimelech had killed his brothers on a stone, and at the end of his life, he was killed with a stone.

Spiritual Application: When choosing a leader look for one that has integrity.

The people with whom you associate speaks volumes of your character.

Standing in the way of a usurper can get you killed.

Beware of those who are swift to shed blood.

When you make boastful threats be ready to back-up your words.

When you want to be heard, speak from a vantage point that will carry your voice.

What you do to others, the same will be done to you.

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JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTERS 6 – 8 (GIDEON)

The story of Gideon who judged Israel and delivered them from their 7 years of oppression by the Midianites along with the Amalekites and the children of the east is found in Judges chapters 6 to 8. This oppression by these nomadic tribes was a result of Israel’s sinning, and this caused Israel to be displaced in their land and relocated into dens, caves, and strongholds. These enemies destroyed their land, took their livestock and impoverished Israel.

As usual, their suffering caused Israel to cry out to God, but before He sent Gideon to their rescue, God sends Israel a prophet with a word of rebuke, and then he sends an angel to Gideon who was hiding from the Midianites while threshing wheat by the winepress.

When the angel appears and speaks to Gideon, he is surprised and puzzled by the angel’s address, “The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.” After being told how God was going to use him, Gideon voiced what he felt was his inadequacies and requested a sign for reassurance. After receiving the sign, Gideon built an altar unto God and called it, “Jehovah Shalom.”

Following God’s instruction Gideon and 10 men threw down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah that was in their town during the night; however, in the morning the men of the town wanted to kill him for his actions but his father stood in his defense and Gideon was given the name Jerubbaal which means Baal’s antagonist.

With the next invasion of the 135,000 Midianites and their allies, the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he gathered together an army from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. Additionally, wanting to be sure that God was sending him into battle Gideon fleeced the Lord two times before he and his 32,000 men proceeded into combat with the enemy.

Not wanting the men to take the credit for the impending victory God reduced Israel’s army number down to 300 by eliminating certain groups of men. To reassure Gideon of the victory he sent him into the enemy’s camp at night where he heard a soldier telling a dream to his comrade which revealed the favor of God on Gideon and his band of men and led Gideon to take time to worship God.

At the beginning of the middle watch, Gideon strategically separated his army into three groups around the enemy’s camp. When given the signal the men blew their trumpets and smashed the pitchers they were holding with a torch on the inside of it. Plus, they stood their ground and shouted, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.” The sound, light, and stance of the men confused the Midianites, and panic-stricken the Midianites turned on each other and slew one another. For those that escaped the men of Israel from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, and Naphtali pursued after them while the Ephraimites were able to capture and kill two princes of Midian Oreb and Zeeb.

While Gideon and his men pursued Kings Zebah and Zalmunna whom they caught and slew for their treatment of kinsmen, Gideon requested food from the men of Succoth and Penuel; however, they failed to comply with Gideon’s request, and for this, he executed vengeance on them by whipping the elders of Succoth with thorns and destroying the tower in Penuel and killing the men of the city.

When the men of Ephraimites met with Gideon after the battle they complained because they were not asked to participate in the initial battle; however, Gideon was able to pacify them by praising their capture of Oreb and Zeeb.

At the conclusion of the battle Israel wanted Gideon to be their ruler, however, he declined and reminded them that God was their ruler. Unfortunately, as a reward, he requested every man to give him an earring from their booty which he used to make an ephod and which eventually resulted in Israel committing idolatry and apostasy.

Israel had peace for the next forty years, and Gideon lived to be a good old age in Ophrah of the Abiezrites having birthed seventy sons with many wives. Also, despite being their deliver when Gideon died Israel was not kind to his children, and they forsook God and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god.

Conclusion: Sin produces consequences, and for Israel, it was confinement to dens, caves, and strongholds.

The enemy knew when to attack. They waited for Israel’s harvest to manifest than they came and stole it.

Sometimes those that deny you help and rob from you are your family members. The Midianites are the descendants of Abraham and Keturah, and the Amalekites are the descendant of Esau. Also, the inhabitants of Succoth and Penuel were family members who refused to share substance with their famished countrymen.

God’s presence is everywhere. He sees you when you are hiding. For example, He sent the angel to where Gideon was hiding.

Gideon presented all the reasons to the angel why he was not fit for the task; however, God was not concerned with his social status, He is concerned with his availability. God accentuated Gideon’s strength, not his weakness. Gideon’s limitations were God’s opportunity to show up and out.

When in difficulty men question God’s actions toward them but they fail to question their actions toward God. Men will cry over their problems but not over their sins.

Due to the suffering of Israel, Gideon questioned God’s concern for them and His wisdom of the solution.

The need for reassurance comes from self-doubt; hence, throughout this assignment, God kept giving Gideon reassurances (fire from the rock, the dry and wet fleece, and the enemy’s dream).

When the enemy comes, he comes with reinforcements.

Fear will cause you to forget who God is, what He has done and what He can do. Fear will make you think the enemy is more powerful than God. Fear will make you tremble when facing your enemy; so, this was one of the groups of men that God had Gideon send home before the battle.

Jealousy over the accomplishments of others will make you minimize your accomplishments.

Spiritual Application: Though you may feel incapable of fulfilling God’s plan for your life with Him on your side you can do it.

Before going to battle, Gideon was told to throw down the altar of Baal and cut down the groove that his father had in their town and then offer a sacrifice to God of two bullocks on a newly erected altar. Follow Gideon’s example, before casting out the enemy in your world, cast it out of your home. Before evangelizing the world, evangelize your home.

After you tear down false idols, erect a holy altar for God.

With our sacrifices God makes miracles.

While the world sleeps, be busy doing God’s work.

When you go where God sends you, go in His strength.

When seeking conciliation with your fellowmen respond tactfully.

All of our victories come from God, don’t forget to praise and thank Him for them all.

Don’t be like the men of Succoth and Penuel who doubted Gideon’s ability to capture their enemy. Just because you cannot visualize victory in someone else’s life does not mean they will not obtain it.

When you have the power to do so, help those in need.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTERS 4 & 5 (DEBORAH & BARAK)

Judges chapters 4 and 5 gives the narrative of Deborah a prophetess and judge in Israel and Barak a military leader in Israel’ s battle and victory over the Canaanites. Chapter 4 is written as prose while chapter 5 is written as an epic poem and together they give a complete understanding of the battle and victory.

Chapter 4 starts with Israel returning to their sinning ways after the death of Ehud and God allowing King Jabin of Canaan to oppress them with the assistance of Sisera the captain of his army for twenty years. Eventually, Israel cries out to God, and He responds by giving Deborah who was functioning as a prophetess and judge a Word to give to Barak. Deborah summons Barak and gives him this Word from the Lord, “Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand.” Having received the Word Barak tells Deborah he will only go if she accompanies him to which she agrees to do, and she tells Barak that God was going to give the victory of their enemy to a woman.

Barak gathered the troops from the six tribes of Naphtali, Zebulun, Issachar, Benjamin Ephraim and Manasseh west who willingly volunteered for battle and these six tribes in the chapter 5 poem were praised while the four tribes of Rueben, Manasseh east, Dan and Asher who did not respond to the call were rebuked.

As the two opposing armies met by the Kishon River, God sent a torrential storm causing Sisera with his nine hundred iron chariots to get stuck in the mud which resulted in mass confusion and slaughtering of all of the Sisera’s army. In the midst of this Sisera escaped and fled to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.

Sisera asked Jael to protect him and not to expose his whereabouts. Jael covered him with a cloth and gave him some milk to drink after which Sisera fell asleep. Quietly, Jael took a hammer and nail of the tent in her hand and hammered the nail through Sisera’s temples and into the ground causing him to die.

When Barak who was pursuing Sisera came by Jael’s tent, she stopped him and brought him into her tent where he saw dead Sisera with the nail in his temples.

After the death of Sisera and the slaughter of his army as God declared Deborah and Barak sang a song of triumphant which is recorded in chapter 5 and God gave the land rest for forty years.

Conclusion: God delivers His people.

Israel required strong leadership to keep them doing what was right in God’s eyes.

Israel had difficulty learning from the mistakes of their forefathers.

God used unconventional means (two women, a torrential storm, a bottle of milk, a hammer, and a nail) to win a war.

In the Bible, Deborah was the first women mentioned in government, and God used her in several capacities.

Deborah’s faith and Barak’s obedience made the difference between defeat and victory.

Spiritual Application: Your faith and obedience can make a difference in our future

Align yourself with people that hear from God.

Warren Wiersbe states, “Reformation temporarily changes outward conduct while revival permanently alters inward character.” We need to seriously pray for revival in our lives lest we like Israel fail to change.

When God gives you instructions your response should not be based on someone else’s actions, always obey God.

God used Jael who was not an Israelite to kill an enemy of Israel. Don’t limit or question God on who He will use to fight your battles and deliver you from bondage.

To God, your gender does not matter.

Similar, to some of the tribes of Israel who chose not to assist in the battle, there will be people that you feel should be supportive of you, but they are not. Don’t despair God will bring you out without them.

Our victory is not contingent on what we see or feel; it is contingent on our trust in God.

The example of Deborah in chapter 5 reminds readers that praise and thanksgiving to God for past and present victories are always in order.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTER 3 (THE CYCLE BEGINS)

In Judges 2, two reasons are given why God did not drive out the Canaanites out of the land, and Judges 3 starts by giving another reason. It states, “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof” (Judges 3:1-2). Thus, God used these nations to teach this new generation the art of warfare.

As informed in the previous chapters Israel sinned by committing idolatry and disobeying God’s instruction to not form matrimonial alliances with the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These grievous actions caused God to be extremely angry with them, and He allowed their enemies to enslave them.

In the remainder of chapter 3 the three enslavements and deliverances of Israel with the cycle of disobedience, defeat, lamenting, deliverance, and rest until the judge dies is recorded.

First Israel was enslaved by King Chushanrishathaim of Mesopotamia, and after eight years the Lord raised up Othniel the son of Kenaz to deliver and judge them resulting in the land having rest for forty years.

Next when Israel backslid and returned to their evil ways God allowed Eglon the king of Moab with the help of the children of Ammon and Amalek to smote Israel, and they took and possessed the city of palm trees for eighteen years until the Lord raised up Ehud, the son of Gera, a left-handed Benjamite to trick and assassinate Eglon with a two-edged dagger under the pretense of giving Eglon a private and secret message. After killing the king, Ehud safely escaped to Seirath and was able to rally the children of Israel in the mountain of Ephraim to follow him and fight their enemy. They were able to slew about ten thousand valiant Moabite men, resulting in eighty years of rest in the land.

The final encounter in this chapter does not share many details; however, God uses Shamgar the son of Anath, to slew six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad.

Conclusion: Othniel was from the mightiest tribe of Israel and Ehud was from the smallest tribe of Israel, and God used them both to deliver and judge His children.

The Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites were all distant relatives of Israel.

After experiencing rest and peace for eighty years, you would think the people would want it to continue by following God’s instructions; however, this was people of another generation who like their forefathers probably did not know God.

Spiritual Application: Your family origin does not matter to God. He uses whom He pleases.

God is the originator of deliverance and men are His catalyst.

God grants us opportunities for teaching, trusting and testing.

Understand, failure to cast the enemy out has permitted him to gain a stronghold which he does not easily give up.

Sometimes your enemy and problems are allowed to exist in your life so you can learn warfare strategies.

Sincerity should be coupled with repentance.

Just because a person is related to you does not mean they have your best interest at heart.

God can use strange weapons to destroy your enemy.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTER 2 (CONSEQUENCES FOR DISOBEDIENCE)

Lest Israel wonder why evil had befallen them God sent an angel to ask them about their acts of disobedience and to inform them of the consequences of their actions. Israel was to make no league with the inhabitants of the land and they were to throw down their altars and because they did not do these things God said, “I will not drive them from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides and their gods shall be a snare unto you.” These words caused Israel to weep, but they did not repent and change their ways.

Judges 2:6 -10 gives a retrospective from the death of Joshua and his peers to the new generation of Israelites. While Joshua and his peers were alive, the people served God but when they died the new generation nullified the covenant by compromise and rejecting divine prohibitions. This new generation did evil in the sight of God and served the gods of the Canaanites: Baalim and Ashtaroth.

Additionally, a cycle was formed. Following the sin of idolatry, God would deliver Israel into the hands of their enemy, Israel would lament over its suffering, and God in compassion would send a judge who would deliver them. During the judges’ time of governing, the Israelites would adhere to God’s word but when the judge died the Israelites would return to their sins and transgress worst than before.

This chapter gives two reasons that God refused to drive the Canaanites out of the land for Israel. First, to punish Israel for breaking the covenant He had made with them. Secondly, to use the idolatrous enemy in testing Israel whether they would obey Him or follow the path of the enemy.

Conclusion: God had given Moses and Joshua specific instructions concerning His covenant with Israel and their occupancy of the promise land and they dutifully shared it with the Israelites (Deut. 6; 7; 12:1-3; Joshua 23; 24). However, the Israelites continually failed to follow God’s covenant stipulations.

Theologians have concluded that the new Israelite generation was ignorant of God because their forefathers fail to share the works, miracles, and laws of God with them or even worst they defiantly chose not to acknowledge or believe that God was their leader.
Israel failed to repent for their sins but they cried over the consequences they would experience.

Worshipping the gods Baalim and Ashtaroth introduced Israel to sexual practices that were not in line with God’s Word.

God in His compassion and mercy repeatedly sent Israel a judge to deliver them, but their lack of self-discipline prove to be their albatross.

Though He is loving, God allowed His people to suffer at the hands of their enemy, and God permitted their adversary to dwell among His people to chasten them.

Spiritual Application: Obeying God’s Word is paramount for success in the life of a believer.

To make a covenant entails acceptance of the beliefs, practices and moral standards of another. Believers are not to make a covenant (league, agreement, confederacy) with people who are not adhering to God’s Word. Plus, believers are to dismantle the enemy’s propaganda. The believer must stand for the truth!

It is vitally important that the future generation is taught God’s Word, and that they understand what he is capable of doing.

In our own strength we are vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy, but with God, on our side, we are able to stand; therefore, make sure you are in right relationship with God.

The presence of the enemy may influence you; hence, maintain your territory and keep the enemy out of it!

Finally, learn to disciple yourself.

JUDGES SERIES – CHAPTER 1 (DISOBEDIENCE)

While he was alive, Joshua divided the promise land according to God’s specification to the tribes of Israel, and it was their responsibility to continue driving out any heathens that remained after the military conquests of Joshua and Israel. Thus, Judges chapter 1 shares a few victories and numerous failures of Israel in completing the conquest.

After Joshua’s death, Israel asked God who was to lead the fight against the Canaanites, and God said in Judges 1:2, “Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hands.” However, Judah partially followed God’s instruction for they requested the tribe of Simeon to accompany them.

Judges 1:4-7 records the Canaanites and the Perizzites were delivered into Judah’s hand, and ten thousand men were killed. Also, King Adonibezek was captured, and he received retributive justice for the previous punishments that he inflicted on seventy royal captives instead of the penalty which God had instructed Israel to do (Deut. 7:24). As he did to those captives, his thumbs and great toes were cut off rendering him incapable of fleeing and handling weapons of war in the future.

Next in Judges 1:8-19 Judah fought the inhabitants of Jerusalem, takes the city, smites it with the edge of the sword, and set it on fire. Following this, Judah fought against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, the south, and in the valley but Judah was unable to drive out the inhabitants of the valley because they had chariots of iron. Then Judah proceeded to fight against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron, and they slew the sons of Anak: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. Also, Judah captured Negeb, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Zephath,

Within this narrative, Othniel Caleb’s nephew was given Achsah Caleb’s daughter after fulfilling the task of smiting Debir (KIrjathsepher), and Achsah requested Caleb to give her springs of water along with land, which he did.

The remainder of this chapter verses 21- 36 recounts the conquests of Israel under the leadership of Joshua. The seven central and northern tribes which consist of Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan, were unable to drive out the nations and heathens from these regions: the Jebusites, the Canaanites of Bethshean and her towns, of Taanach and her towns, of Dor and her towns, of Ibleam and her towns, of Megiddo and her towns, of Gezer, of Kitron, of Nahalol, of Accho, of Zidon, of Ahlab, of Achzib, of Helbah, of Aphik, of Rehob, of Bethshemesh, of Bethanath, and the Amorites who dwelt in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim. However, in time the Israelite tribes subjugated many of the heathens to the status of taxpaying vassals.

Conclusion: From the beginning of creation God desired to be man’s king; however, with the fall of man (Genesis 3) and the scattering of humans throughout the earth (Genesis 11) people choose human kings to rule over them. Besides the first mention names of several kings in Genesis 14 who reigned during the lifetime of Abraham, it is believed that Nimrod whose name is mentioned in Genesis 10 was possibly a king in the ancient world.

In returning man back to His original intent, God selected Abraham and his seed to be His chosen people and to be their king. God was to rule over the people, and the people were to follow His instructions, but His people (Israel) often neglected to do so. Thus, disobedience to God’s instructions is seen throughout Judges 1.

First, Judah was told to go into war against the Canaanites and Judah asked the tribe of Simeon to accompany them. Secondly, as God previously instructed they did not kill the enemy king when they captured him. Thirdly, when the enemy had a mode of transportation that Judah did not have, they became fearful, impotent and allowed themselves to be confined to a certain area. Finally, their most detrimental act was not driving the enemy out of their territory.

Spiritual Application: Most of us have difficulty being alone, but there are times in our life that God requires us to do so. Though we may feel the need for companionship and support, God is ever present to bring us to victory.

There are some things in our life that God wants us to kill . We may feel they will not harm us if we restrain them. Nevertheless, God says, “Kill it.”

Don’t permit what you see or feel to hinder you from going forth in God’s strength. We can conquer all and do the impossible when He is with us.

Finally, fraternization with the enemy can lead to fellowship and drifting from the laws of God; therefore, separation is a key to living victoriously.

JUDGES SERIES: INTRODUCTION

Having just completed blogging the Samson Series my attention was drawn to the book of Judges and I started looking at the various narratives found in it which I found appealing and thought-provoking. Hence, I have decided to do a series on that book.

The book of Judges whose author is unknown covers the period of 1,220 -1050 BC, from the death of Joshua through the rise of Samuel. Since I am blogging solely on the book of Judges, I will not include Eli or Samuel who was considered judges but their stories are found in 1 Samuels.

Before I blog the first chapter let me share a little background history of this book. In Exodus and Leviticus Israel was given the laws, commandments, and statues by which they were to conduct themselves. In Joshua they entered and partially conquered areas in the promise land; thus, in many areas locales remained under the authority of the Canaanites and other inhabitants. Also, it is believed that the book is not written chronologically since the judges who were over different tribes were located in the various area of Canaan and some of the captivities and deliverances took place around the same time.

The book of Judges reveals how Israel chose to follow the laws, commandments, and statues that they received and the consequences for their repetitive actions of disobedience. Additionally, God’s grace and love for Israel is repeatedly seen as He sent them judges who were civil and military leaders, and who delivered them out of their captivity.

Judges chapter three thru sixteen reveals the seven apostasies of Israel, their oppression, their repentance, and their deliverance. Chapters seventeen thru twenty-one highlights the social and moral depravity of Israel, its decline, and degradation.

Finally, I have found in God’s Word He provides us with keys for spiritual warfare and instructions and answers for everyday life situations. Some of these things are not easily seen; somethings must be uncovered to discover the solution. It is my prayer in this series you will find the solution to problems and questions, the eyes of your understanding will be enlightened, revelation knowledge will flow in abundance, and you will gain keys for your spiritual battles.

SAMSON SERIES: DEFILEMENT, DECEPTION, & DESTRUCTION – JUDGES 16

Judges chapter fifteen closes with this verse, “And he judges Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.” During that time, I can only surmise that Samson had limited or no interaction with the Philistines because the bible does not record any conflict between them. However, things are about to change in chapter sixteen for once again Samson returns to a Philistine town and engages in harlotry, and sadly we watch as defilement, deception, and destruction ensues.

When the enemy hears that Samson is in their territory, they set up an ambush for him, but God allows him to escape carrying the city gates that was closed upon his shoulders to Hebron which is located in Judah.

Next, Samson falls in love with a woman named Delilah who lived in Sorek which was in the enemy’s territory. The lords of the Philistine communicated with her and offered her a bribe if she was able to obtain from Samson information that would allow them to capture him. Delilah accepts their offer and initiates her diabolic scheme.

Unbeknownst to Samson that Delilah is asking him questions that will result in his capture, he lies to her three times giving information that proves false when she attempts to render him helpless.

Finally, after being pressured many days Delilah’s persistence pays off, and Samson reveals the truth to Delilah, and she has his hair shaved off while he is sleeping. Unfortunately, the next series of events was not what Samson expected. Judges 16:20-21 states, “And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him. But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass, and he did grind in the prison house.”

During a celebration to their god Dagon the Philistines decided to make a spectacle and sport of Samson whose hair had begun to grow; so, they brought him from the prison to the place of their gathering. While there Samson prayed and asked God to avenge him of his lost eyesight and strengthen him by allowing him to push the main pillars of the building where he and three thousand man and women were assembled. God answered Samson request, and Samson and the three thousand individuals were killed as the building collapse on them.

The sixteen chapter and story of Samson’s life ends with his brethren retrieving his body and burying it in the burying-place of Manoah, his father.

This chapter gave me a plethora of thoughts on which to reflect, and here they are:
1. Avoid temptations.
2. Continual sinning anesthetizes you to your sinful actions.
3. In your actions, you can be your own worst enemy.
4. The lust of the flesh enslaves you and causes you to act recklessly.
5. Lust dulls your perception.
6. People will hold vendettas against you for a lifetime.
7. People are watching what you are doing.
8. When you are out of place, news about you whereabouts always spreads.
9. Enemies operate in the dark.
10. Your enemy is talking about you.
11. Your enemy seeks ways to kill you.
12. Your enemy will set up ambushes for you.
13. The enemy is willing to pay for your downfall.
14. Your enemy will remain hidden until he can overpower and capture you.
15. The enemy is relentless in his efforts to conquer you.
16. The enemy seeks to wear you down and out.
17. The enemy desires to strip you of your strength.
18. The enemy wants you eternally blind and unable to see your way out. He strives to take away your vision.
19. The enemy uses seduction and deception to ensnare you.
20. The enemy is often rewarded for his perseverance.
21. The enemy seeks to humiliate you; he rejoices over your downfall.
22. Don’t tell the enemy your secrets, don’t divulge crucial information.
23. Without God’s presence, we are powerless.
24. It is a sad and dangerous thing when you fail to realize God’s presence is no longer with you.
25. There are consequences for our wrong choices; choose wisely.
26. When you lay your head down in the wrong place, you are likely to wake-up finding yourself in trouble.
27. Watch out for those who have the ability to lull you to sleep.
28. Illicit sexual activity will lead to your downfall.
29. Lusting after the wrong thing will eventually imprison you.
30. God is a restorer.
31. Starting well does not guarantee a perfect ending.
32. Use your strength to do God’s will.
33. God’s assignment for our lives will be fulfilled despite our failures.
34. Ask God to help you distinguish deception.
35. Not once in Judges chapters 14 – 16 did Samson ask God for forgiveness for breaking the Nazarite vow; yet God still used him, and his name is recorded in the Hebrews’ heroes of faith.

As I now conclude this five blog series, I pray you have enjoyed it and obtained insight and helpful information that you are able to use as you walk victoriously in the Lord.

 

SAMSON SERIES: RETALIATION – JUDGES 15

With the passing of several months, Samson’s anger waned, and he decided to visit his wife in Timnath in hopes of a conjugal reunion. Upon arrival, his wife’s father informed Samson that the wife was given to his best man, and he offered Samson another daughter to marry, but Samson inflamed once again, rejected the offer.

In retaliation Samson catches 300 foxes, places them in pairs and with a lit torch between their tails, he sets the Philistines’ corn patch, vineyards, and olive groves on fire. Consequently, when the Philistines found out that Samson did this horrendous act, they burnt his wife and father to death which caused Samson to seek more vengeance in which a merciless slaughter ensued.

To catch Samson, the Philistines invade Judah causing the Judeans to become dismayed. When they found out that Samson was the reason of the invasion 3,000 men went to Samson at the rock Etam and informed him of the invasion. After conversing, Samson agrees to be arrested and go quietly if the men did not attempt to take him forcibly.

With his hands bound with new ropes the men of Judean delivered Samson over to the Philistines; however, the Spirit of the Lord mightily moved on him and the ropes dissolved from his hands. The Philistines jubilation over the capture of Samson turned to horror as he picked up a jawbone of an ass and slaughtered 1000 men all by himself.

This massacre left Samson thirsty and exhausted. Thus he prayed to God for help, and God allowed a fountain of water to spring up, and Samson was able to drink and be revived.

The chapter ends stating, “And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.” The scriptures do not reveal if there were adversarial conflicts between Samson and the Philistines during these years; so, I assume that there were no significant disturbances.

Here are my thoughts on this chapter:
1. Samson has an anger problem. He appears to be driven by his emotions, and he often exhibits misplaced aggression.
2. Appeasing an angry person is difficult.
3. Knowing the flawed, volatile character of Samson, God used him in punishing the Philistines.
4. Violence generates more violence.
5. Retaliation is circular.
6. Vengeance belongs to God.
6. When people view you as a troublemaker, they are unlikely to help you.
7. God deserves thanks and praise for His wonderful acts toward us.
8. Seek direction from God before acting.
9. Even if you must stand alone, don’t fear the enemy.
10. God is a present help in your time of need.

 

 

SAMSON SERIES: DECISIONS – JUDGES 14

The decisions that we make in life are significant and should be made with thoughtfulness and prayer for they can be life changing and affect generations to come. In this chapter, Samson begins to make decisions that set the course of his life. Were they right or wrong; continue reading and see.

In chapter 14 Samson an eligible young man had reached the age where he desired a wife. Hence, the first verse of this chapter reveals that he leaves Zorah his place of residence and goes down to Timnath a Philistine frontier town located three miles from his home. In Timnath, he saw a woman to whom he was attracted, and upon returning home, told his parents that he wanted them to make wedding arrangements for him, for it was the custom of parents to negotiate wedding alliances. Knowing the laws (Exod. 34:11-16, Num.36:7-9, Deut. 7:1-3) given to them by Moses concerning marriage outside of your tribe they protested; however, Samson insisted that they carry out his wishes. The Bible also reveals unbeknownst to them God was using this to begin to bring judgment on the Philistines; therefore, he allowed Samson’s parent to submit to his request.

While traveling with his parents to Timnath to make the arrangements Samson became separated from them, and he encountered a lion which he slews with his bare hands, and upon meeting back with his parents, he does not share this experience with them.

Awhile later Samson was returning to Timnath for the actual wedding, he found the dead lion’s carcass, and saw that a bee hive with honey was in it; so, he scopes up some honey which he ate and shared with his parents when he meets them. Furthermore, Samson did not tell them from where he had gotten the honey.

At the beginning of the wedding feast with the lion and honey fresh in his mind, Samson proposes a riddle to the thirty Philistine groomsmen assigned to him. If they were able to solve the riddle they would each get garments, and if not, they were to give Samson thirty new garments. As the seven days of the feast progressed the men were unable to solve the riddle; thus, they threatened Samson’s bride with death for her and her family if she did not get the answer to the riddle for them. Also, they accused her of setting them up. Consequently, Samson’s bride cried and pleaded with Samson until he gave her the answer to the riddle which she told the Philistines. On the seventh day, they gave Samson the answer, and he became furious with them and made a horrible remark about his bride.

In his anger, Samson traveled twenty miles to Ashkelon where the Spirit of the Lord came on him, and he killed thirty men and took their garments and goods. He then returned to Timnath and paid up his wager. Still, angry Samson returns to his father’s home, and his bride was given to Samson’s Philistine best man to wed.

Here are my thoughts on this chapter:
1. When God predestined the birth of Samson He knew that Samson would be disobedient to His laws, reckless in his behavior, driven by lust and make unwise decisions; yet He chooses to use him. In the midst of his wrongdoings and flagrant disobedience, God still used the situation to accomplish His divine will and purpose in the earth, and He will do the same in our lives.

2. From infancy to young adulthood Samson’s parents raised him in a godly household. When he came to an age where he could make major life decisions he strayed from the godly teaching he received. Though you raise your child in a godly environment and make sure they know the things of God that does not guarantee that in adulthood they will follow the teachings that they have received.

3. Judges chapter thirteen ended stating,” And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan.” How the Spirit moved and what transpired was not revealed. In chapter fourteen the two times the Spirit of the Lord mightily moved on Samson it was connected with his strength, and he did feats that the average person was not able to do. When the Spirit of the Lord moves on you expect things out of the ordinary; there will be a visible manifestation.

4. Unfortunately, some issues remain the same, for even as we see in our society today, many leaders have a lust problem and choose to be ruled by their flesh. Lust causes people to disregard spiritual mandates, and if this problem is not dealt with appropriately, there can be dire consequences.

5. When we stray from our place of assignment and fraternize with our enemy problems will occur. Remember unholy alliances are detrimental.

6. The possibility of death can bring about betrayal and desperation can drive you to tears.

7. Finally, listen to people that you know, trust, and follows God’s Word.