April 6, 2017

Today you should read: Judges 14

 When I was younger my sisters and I played a game called “Chutes & Ladders.” You hit some spots on the board and you climb up, you hit others spots, and you slide down. The book of Judges is a lot like that: a judge is surfaced and Israel repents and rises up; the judge dies and Israel slides back down into idolatry leading to oppression.

Here we go again down the chute. Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years (Judges 13:1). However, God provided another ladder, a deliverer-judge—a man who was to be a “Nazirite to God,” from the womb, to the day of his death (13:5, 7). As Dakota may or may not have mentioned yesterday,

A Nazirite (meaning “devoted” or “consecrated”) was a person whose vow of separation to God included abstaining from fermented drink, refraining from cutting his hair, and avoiding contact with dead bodies (Num. 6:2–6). Nazirite vows were normally for a limited period of time but Samson was to be a Nazirite of God all his life (Jud. 13:7). (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Stepping into chapter 14, Samson’s all grown up and acting very un-Naziritely. In terms of the plot of Judges, only the refrain from cutting hair is specifically mentioned in Judges 13:5, so there seems to be something special about that part of the vow. However, this is also the only part of the vow not broken in chapter 14!

I once read a book about dating/marriage that had a chapter title that I’ll never forget: “Before you tie the knot, make sure the noose isn’t around your neck.” This betrothal is quite odd because of the prohibition of Jews to intermarry with non-Jews, not to mention Samson is a Nazarite. Verse 4 give a great insight into this arrangement—that it was of the Lord. This was not so much Samson, a pious man, seeking God’s will for his life and surrendering to God’s wisdom, not even close. Instead, Israel had become chummy with the Philistines and were content to coexist, whereas “Yahweh is determined to shatter the status quo. Samson is his tool chosen to rile up the Philistines, and this woman offers the opportunity to make it happen” (New American Commentary).

Samson marries a Philistine, eats honey from a dead animal (making him ceremonially unclean), and spends seven days feasting (the word “feast” could also be translated “drinking party”). Samson is very very un-Naziritely. Yet, in all of this, God redeems Samson’s ignorance and bad behavior to accomplish his purposes—to upset the apple-cart, as it were, between Israel and the Philistines.

God’s grace and mercy is unlimited and his power to redeem fallen people should never cease to amaze us. Likewise, while tremendously imperfect, Samson was recorded in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. If God can use Samson, he can use you.

Ask yourself today, “What has God asked me to do that I’ve not done?” Or “What sin have I not confessed that might be holding me back?”

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

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Author: cpclexington

Lexington & Richmond KY

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