Monday, April 2, 2012
Welcome to Day 92 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Judges chapters 13-16 covers the life of Samson, a young Israelite leader with some pretty major issues. Anger and lust primarily… Probably stemmed from arrogance? Also seems he just liked to mess with people. Riddles (The lion and the honey) and tied the foxes’ tails together setting their crops on fire. He killed 30 men just for their clothes to pay off his riddle debt. He hooked up with a prostitute, then tore off the arch of the city gate and carried it up a hill and placed it there for the whole world to see… just to mess with them? Thumbing his nose at the Philistines.
He couldn’t keep the answer to his riddle to himself, nor the answer to the strength of his hair. And it cost him his life.
He also wasn’t very wise… after he gave a fake answer to the strength of his hair to Delilah and she betrayed him, why would he keep messing with her, then allow her to “nag” the truth out of him?? Funny, it says in Judges 16:16, “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.”
I am wondering about these particular verses… Judges 14:1-4, “Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” 3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”
Clearly they were about to violate God’s decree about marriage… Deuteronomy 7 states, “When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3
Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons…
4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.”
But then in Judges 14:4 it goes on to say, “His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.”
This is the type of thing that makes me scratch my head… God clearly states they are not to do this. Then they do it anyway… Then it says the LORD was “seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines.” Couldn’t God have created his own occasion? He could have simply “confused” them and scattered them as he did those in Jericho. Or simply rained down fire from heaven as he did on Sodom.
Or is this an occasion where God knew in advance that they about to make a bad decision, he allows it, then uses it for his own purposes? Romans 8:28 comes to mind, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
You mean he can take my bad decisions and turn them around? Sure. Doesn’t mean it was smart though… Or even God’s will.
And there may still be consequences… This put Samson on a path of self-destruction… Took a Philistine wife. The prostitute? Yep, she was also a Philistine. Delilah, too…
Ultimately cost him his life…
Keep in mind this is maybe 40+/- years of history condensed into four chapters. (Samson led Israel for 20 years. Not sure how old he was when he began leading, simply that he was at the age of marriage.)
It’s easy to take a story and reduce it down to just the highlights that we are privy to… what is actually recorded in the Bible. What I want to know is what is NOT in written down. How did he live day-to-day? What GOOD did he do for Israel?
The problem is our legacy is often just reduced to the highlights, a few bullet points or a couple of sound bytes…
Think about the politicians, athletes, movie stars… and, gulp… religious leaders… that have legacies tainted by scandal. Obviously, some very powerful individuals have done some amazing things over the course of their lives… helping a lot of people, doing a lot of good… But the sound bytes and late night comedians have a field day at their expense. And they brought it on themselves by making very poor decisions.
I wonder what Samson’s legacy could have been… How he might have changed the course of Israel’s future, lessened the oppression of the Philistines by being obedient, by not marrying or chasing after the Philistine women. If he had actually led a life with a little more integrity…
There was no honor in murdering 30 men… for their clothes.
Every news organization in the world would have shown up after that event. The coverage of the trial, 24/7.
And Samson had no consequences for his actions, at least not initially. But it all caught up with him… eventually.
At any point I believe we can turn our lives around, begin putting our past behind us. We all do it the same way, a day at a time.
Think of Rahab, the prostitute… We read about her in Joshua 2. Her legacy is, yes, she was a prostitute, BUT, she hid the Israelite spies, saving their lives and it saved her family from being killed when Jericho was brought down. And that is her legacy. The fact that she was a prostitute is… well… a fact, but not the focus.
(Obviously I am not condoning her lifestyle here, just referring to her legacy.)
Speaking of… one has to question the wisdom of the two spies… hiding in the home of a prostitute? Try explaining THAT to your wife down the road… “Well honey, they were looking for us and this woman, well… we didn’t KNOW that she was a prostitute… not until later… and we didn’t stay all night… and NOTHING happened!”
I could go on for days about how all this applies to my life. But it’s pretty obvious.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 states that we should “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Most other translations don’t use the word “appearance,” stating merely, “Avoid every kind of evil.”
But it’s good advice to avoid even the appearance of evil. Granted, you can carry that out to an extreme, but the principle is sound.
Wonder how Samson’s life might have turned out had he lived with that in mind?
Lord, help me to have safeguards in my life to avoid arrogance, foolishness and scandal… Thank you for your Holy Spirit that is always with me!