Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Mar 23, Jdg 13-15

Today's readings are Jdg 13-15.

Ah, yes. Samson. If you read his story carefully, it runs through Jdg 16, you get an overview of how Israel is in total disarray and confusion. Samson is a snapshot of what Israel looks like in his day.

Far from the brave hero we learned about in Sunday School, Samson is a living dichotomy. Samson is of the tribe of Dan. You remember them. They were the ones who could not take their allotted land and went north to take the town of a passive and weak people (Josh 19:40-48).

Samson is physically strong but morally weak. He made incredibly poor decisions and was unable to control his emotions, yet God continued to use him. Samson held faithful to the letter of his Nazarite vows (except when he touched the carcass of the lion!) but totally disregarded his Hebrew tradition and the tenets of his faith. He was far from conforming to the intent of the vows, which was to practice holiness (Num 6:5-21). He married the wrong women (Jdg 14:2), did questionable things (Jdg 15:4-5, 16:1), was enamored with pleasing himself, became astoundingly naive with Delilah (who seduced him the same way the Philistines were enticing Israel). Delilah was clearly Samson's enemy, but Samson was so blinded by lust that he was unable to see it. Israel was in the same position with Philistia, opposed to them but lusting after the things they had.

There is something to be learned from practicing our faith (Samson's dedication to the Nazarite vows) without having our hearts committed to being faithful (his disregard for God's commands). God gave Samson life through a barren woman, blessed him with extraordinary strength, gave him victory and shed His grace on him despite Samson's recklessness and self-absorbed nature. In the end, it was Samson's own self-centeredness that defeated him.

Samson's victories, while spectacular (Jdg 16:28-31), are short lived and have no real significance. The Philistines will remain a problem until well after David becomes king.

The real encouragement in this story is not in Samson’s goodness, physical strength, and courage, but in God’s goodness in using him regardless of his flaws, moral weakness, and mistakes. 

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