“And the Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.”
Judges 13: 1
“Divide and Conquer”
“The road to defeat is greased with the slime of indifference.”
Is there an area of my life where I have felt – defeated?
“No man (or woman) is defeated without until he (she) has first been defeated within.”
“Learn by failure”
Today we begin a series of studies on the women in the life of Samson. Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at four specific women who found themselves roped into the life of one of the most well-known Old Testament characters.
What I love about the Bible and the way we are studying it – from Genesis to Revelation – is that as we travel, chapter by chapter and verse by verse, we are led to see the continuity that runs throughout God’s Word. It is in the context of not only the cultural and social history, but also the personal history of individual lives, where we find the most critical lessons which should serve to be signposts and guardrails on our own highway through life.
If ever there is a Biblical story we as women can learn from – it is the life of Samson and the women who chose to get involved with him. And to the men who come to the garden, the life of Samson can serve as a tremendous lesson for you, as well. For it is the word “choice” that keeps rearing itself as the pivotal element that brought down one of God’s chosen leaders -- someone whose life could be summed up by two words: “Potential lost.” I’m not saying Samson’s life was a total waste. Nobody’s life has to be wasted. But our choices are critical. Thankfully, the story of Samson gives us a clear view into the redemptive power of our God who not only forgives but then makes every effort possible to give us back the years the “locusts have eaten.” However, I think I would be ignoring the obvious if I skimmed over the fact that had Samson lived his entire life within the calling of God, who knows how history would have changed, not only for his family, but for the Israelite nation as a whole.
We are introduced to this story in Judges 13: 1 where we are told that God’s children were under a forty year tyrannical reign of the brutality of the Philistines.
A little history lesson is in order for it is key to our upcoming studies. At the time Samson was born, the Philistines were settled in southwestern Canaan. It was in this area that the Philistines built five key cities, a point which we will learn is critical in the interaction between Samson and Delilah.
But here’s another strategic development that was undertaken by the Philistines. As the twelve tribes of Israel settled throughout the land of Canaan, the Philistines decided not to attack every tribe all at once. Instead, little by little, they infiltrated one tribe at a time. Through intermarriage and intermingling, before the people of God even recognized what was happening, they were under the control of the powerful Philistines who longed to obliterate the image of the God of heaven and replace Him with their man-made gods. The first tribes to fall sway to Philistine control were Dan and Judah. While we are told that members of the tribe of Dan moved north, because of the tribal disorganization within Israel, as well as the Philistines superior material culture including stockpiles of iron weapons, the Philistines expanded their territorial grasp rapidly until Israel was completely surrounded.
It was at this time of lengthy foreign dominance, when we are told, God intervened in a most dramatic way to bring about the release of His children.
But before we look at the life of the young Samson and the home in which he was raised, I believe it does us well to reflect on what it was that brought God’s children down to defeat, for it wasn’t some huge war or massive conquering army. It was a rather unpretentious group of people led by the “lords” of five cities who used their iron wills and weapons to disrupt the lives of God’s children. By slowly and methodically encroaching upon the daily lives of the Israelites and by doing business with and creating social inter-action with God’s children, soon the distinctiveness that was meant for God’s children became so entwined with the ways of the Philistines, it was impossible to break the ties that bound.
As I have been studying about the women in Samson’s life and reflecting on the personal application their stories have in your life and mine, the first thing that hit me is how the enemy of my soul and yours too often takes us off-guard by a slow infiltration meant to divide and conquer. Divide us from our purpose and from our God.
I don’t know about you, but I know I’m not so susceptible to falling into a pit when the pit looks totally unappealing, stinks with rotted refuse, and is avoided by everyone else. What does take me off-guard is when the pit looks like a lush and fertile oasis filled with heavenly aromas, and I am beckoned by words of enticing love. Stepping into an inviting sanctuary, where the looming weapons of destruction are well-hidden, has for me, brought me to defeat on more than one occasion.
So often, when we read these Biblical stories, it is easy to think we couldn’t or haven’t gone down the path that we are reading about. Yet, in the story of Samson and the women in his life, I don’t believe there is one of us who at one time or another hasn’t found our own behavior identical to the characters in this story. My prayer is that as we study the life of Samson, we will focus on the truth of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7: 13, “Broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” May the craving of earthly desires not bind us to the pit of destruction.
"Let God use your past defeats as the guideposts for your future success.”
‘Turn Back, O man’
“Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways;
Old now is earth, and none shall count her days,
Yet thou, her child, whose head is crowned with flame,
Still wilt not hear thy inner God proclaim:
Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.
Earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.
Age after age their tragic empires rise,
Built while they dream, and in the dreaming weep:
Would man but wake from out his haunted sleep,
Earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.
Earth shall be fair, and all her people one:
Not till that house shall God’s whole will be done;
Now, even now, once more from earth to sky peals forth
In joy man’s old undaunted cry;
Earth shall be fair.”
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