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Judges 20:1-17

Resolve to Punish the Guilty

20 Then all the sons of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, came out, and the congregation assembled as one man to the Lord at Mizpah. The [a]chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot [b]soldiers who drew the sword. (Now the sons of Benjamin heard that the sons of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the sons of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this wickedness take place?” So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came with my concubine to spend the night at Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. But the men of Gibeah rose up against me and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me; instead, they ravished my concubine so that she died. And I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout the land of Israel’s inheritance; for they have committed a lewd and disgraceful act in Israel. Behold, all you sons of Israel, give your advice and counsel here.”

Then all the people arose as one man, saying, “Not one of us will go to his tent, nor will any of us return to his house. But now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up against it by lot. 10 And we will take 10 men out of 100 throughout the tribes of Israel, and 100 out of 1,000, and 1,000 out of 10,000 to [c]supply food for the people, that when they come to [d]Gibeah of Benjamin, they may [e]punish them for all the disgraceful acts that they have committed in Israel.” 11 Thus all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united as one man.

12 Then the tribes of Israel sent men through the entire [f]tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is this wickedness that has taken place among you? 13 Now then, deliver up the men, the [g]worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove this wickedness from Israel.” But the sons of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel. 14 The sons of Benjamin gathered from the cities to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the sons of Israel. 15 From the cities on that day the sons of Benjamin were [h]numbered, 26,000 men who draw the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah who were [i]numbered, 700 choice men. 16 Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

17 Then the men of Israel besides Benjamin were [j]numbered, 400,000 men who draw the sword; all these were men of war.

What was worse than the acts that the men of Gibeah had committed against the Levite’s concubine? The fact that all the men of the tribe of Benjamin were willing to fight to protect them from judgment.

It’s one thing to stand up for family, to believe the best of the ones close to you. But when they screw up this badly, blocking them from punishment doesn’t help them. Far too often, we are inclined to look the other way when our family is going on the wrong path. While we can’t force them to change their ways, we must be careful that our reaction doesn’t condone their deeds.

If you love someone, letting them wallow in the mud of sin is not a very good display of that. Handing them a towel and a hose may be the most we can do in some cases (and an encouraging word to clean up their act doesn’t hurt), but don’t shield them from the consequences of their misdeeds. You’ll only be hurting the ones you claim to love, and that isn’t love at all. That’s just lazy.

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Judges 19

A Levite’s Concubine Degraded

19 Now it came about in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite [a]staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, who took a concubine for himself from Bethlehem in Judah. But his concubine played the harlot against him, and she went away from him to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for a period of four months. Then her husband arose and went after her to speak [b]tenderly to her in order to bring her back, [c]taking with him his servant and a pair of donkeys. So she brought him into her father’s house, and when the girl’s father saw him, he was glad to meet him. His father-in-law, the girl’s father, detained him; and he remained with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there. Now on the fourth day they got up early in the morning, and he [d]prepared to go; and the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Sustain [e]yourself with a piece of bread, and afterward you may go.” So both of them sat down and ate and drank together; and the girl’s father said to the man, “Please be willing to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.” Then the man arose to go, but his father-in-law urged him so that he spent the night there again. On the fifth day he arose to go early in the morning, and the girl’s father said, “Please sustain [f]yourself, and wait until [g]afternoon”; so both of them ate. When the man arose to go along with his concubine and servant, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Behold now, the day has drawn [h]to a close; please spend the night. Lo, the day is [i]coming to an end; spend the night here that your heart may be merry. Then tomorrow you may arise early for your journey so that you may go [j]home.”

10 But the man was not willing to spend the night, so he arose and departed and came to a place opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). And there were with him a pair of saddled donkeys; his concubine also was with him. 11 When they were near Jebus, the day was almost gone; and the servant said to his master, “Please come, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.” 12 However, his master said to him, “We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners who are not of the sons of Israel; but we will go on as far as Gibeah.” 13 He said to his servant, “Come and let us approach one of these places; and we will spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 14 So they passed along and went their way, and the sun set on them near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 15 They turned aside there in order to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When [k]they entered, [l]they sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.

16 Then behold, an old man was coming out of the field from his work at evening. Now the man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was [m]staying in Gibeah, but the men of the place were Benjamites. 17 And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” 18 He said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, for I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem in Judah. But I am now going to [n]my house, and no man will take me into his house. 19 Yet there is both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and also bread and wine for me, [o]your maidservant, and the young man who is with your servants; there is no lack of anything.” 20 The old man said, “Peace to you. Only let me take care of all your needs; however, do not spend the night in the open square.” 21 So he took him into his house and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed their feet and ate and drank.

22 While they were [p]celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain [q]worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have [r]relations with him.” 23 Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly. 24 Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them [s]whatever you wish. But do not commit such an act of folly against this man.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them; and they raped her and abused her all night until morning, then let her go at the approach of dawn. 26 [t]As the day began to dawn, the woman came and fell down at the doorway of the man’s house where her master was, until full daylight.

27 When her master arose in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, then behold, his concubine was lying at the doorway of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up and let us go,” but there was no answer. Then he placed her on the donkey; and the man arose and went to his [u]home. 29 When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel. 30 All who saw it said, “Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!”

The last couple chapters seem a continuing lesson in “what people do when left to their own devices.” It gets worse, much worse, in this passage, and if you’ve not read the entire Bible before, you might be shocked at many things in this story.

Rightfully so, but remember these were ordinary men, left to do whatever seemed right to them. While those in Israel said “Nothing like this has ever happened here…” it’s unlikely the event was unique in the surrounding nations. Women were property, with no more rights than a goat, and only God’s value on humanity changes that harsh cultural norm.

There are a lot of terrible things still in our day, and they are continuing examples of what happens when people abandon God for their own ways. It is a reminder for us that our fellow men need God, just as much now as they ever did. Without Him, there is no common basis for morality and goodness. There is only men (and women) “…doing whatever seems right in their own eyes.”

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Judges 18:14-31

Danites Take Micah’s Idols

14 Then the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish said to their kinsmen, “Do you know that there are in these houses an ephod and [i]household idols and a graven image and a molten image? Now therefore, consider what you should do.” 15 They turned aside there and came to the house of the young man, the Levite, to the house of Micah, and asked him of his welfare. 16 The six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the sons of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17 Now the five men who went to spy out the land went up and entered there, and took the graven image and the ephod and [j]household idols and the molten image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war. 18 When these went into Micah’s house and took the graven image, the ephod and [k]household idols and the molten image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?” 19 They said to him, “Be silent, put your hand over your mouth and come with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?” 20 The priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod and [l]household idols and the graven image and went among the people.

21 Then they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the livestock and the valuables in front of them. 22 When they had gone some distance from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house assembled and overtook the sons of Dan. 23 They cried to the sons of Dan, who turned [m]around and said to Micah, “What is the matter with you, that you have assembled together?” 24 He said, “You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and have gone away, and what do I have besides? So how can you say to me, ‘What is the matter with you?’” 25 The sons of Dan said to him, “Do not let your voice be heard among us, or else [n]fierce men will fall upon you and you will [o]lose your life, with the lives of your household.” 26 So the sons of Dan went on their way; and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house.

27 Then they took what Micah had made and the priest who had belonged to him, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and secure, and struck them with the edge of the sword; and they burned the city with fire. 28 And there was no one to deliver them, because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with anyone, and it was in the valley which is near Beth-rehob. And they rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29 They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father who was born in Israel; however, the name of the city formerly was Laish. 30 The sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of [p]Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. 31 So they set up for themselves Micah’s graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.

This story is an example of what comes of following God halfway. While the Israelites had a lot of laws and regulations they were supposed to follow, #2 of the Ten Commandments clearly stated they should make no graven images.

Yet Micah had done it, rather than following God’s law, he only followed what suited him. So it didn’t come as much of a shock to him that a whole tribe would do the same thing. Sadly for Micah, they took away all his livestock and it appears they took his children, and just about anything of value.

God doesn’t ask for half our heart. He asks for our whole heart, and nothing less. Don’t hold back, and don’t try to make God’s will fit your own mold. Follow Him and you’ll be more fulfilled than ever. Easy? Of course not. But worth it.

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Judges 18:1-13

Danites Seek Territory

18 In those days there was no king of Israel; and in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in, for until that day [a]an inheritance had not [b]been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel. So the sons of Dan sent from their family five men out of their whole number, [c]valiant men from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to search it; and they said to them, “Go, search the land.” And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. When they were near the house of Micah, they recognized the voice of the young man, the Levite; and they turned aside there and said to him, “Who brought you here? And what are you doing in this place? And what do you have here?” He said to them, “Thus and so has Micah done to me, and he has hired me and I have become his priest.” They said to him, “Inquire of God, please, that we may know whether our way on which we are going will be prosperous.” The priest said to them, “Go in peace; your way in which you are going [d]has the Lord’s approval.”

Then the five men departed and came to Laish and saw the people who were in it living in security, after the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and secure; for there was no [e]ruler humiliating them for anything in the land, and they were far from the Sidonians and had no dealings with anyone. When they came back to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers said to them, “What do you report?” They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. And will you [f]sit still? Do not delay to go, to enter, to possess the land. 10 When you enter, you will come to a secure people with a spacious land; for God has given it into your hand, a place where there is no lack of anything that is on the earth.”

11 Then from the family of the Danites, from Zorah and from Eshtaol, six hundred men armed with weapons of war set out. 12 They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. Therefore they called that place [g]Mahaneh-dan to this day; behold, it is [h]west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 They passed from there to the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah.

The men of Dan had this going for them at least, when they weren’t sure what to do, they asked God for guidance. As they scouts were traveling, they found the Levite. Since they were traveling in unknown territory, they asked him to inquire of God for them.

As I write that, it occurs to me that we have a tremendous privilege in this day. The scouts dared not go to God directly, it was only for the priest to do so. Yet after Jesus came and conquered death, and then sent the Holy Spirit to believers, we see a different story.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that we can boldly approach the very throne of God. For now, Jesus himself is our intercessor, we need no man to ask of God for us. What an incredible privilege, that we can talk to God directly. It brings us one step closer to what God intended, for us to walk and talk with Him. Now we see in a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face. And in the old days, one could make the analogy that they dared not even look in the glass. Don’t be shy, God wants to hear from His children. Talk to him, anytime, about anything, and don’t forget your Father is waiting for you.

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Judges 17

Micah’s Idolatry

17 Now there was a man of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. He said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse [a]in my hearing, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “Blessed be my son by the Lord.” He then returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, and his mother said, “I wholly dedicate the silver from my hand to the Lord for my son to make a graven image and a molten image; now therefore, I will return [b]them to you.” So when he returned the silver to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver and gave them to the silversmith who made [c]them into a graven image and a molten image, and [d]they were in the house of Micah. And the man Micah had a [e]shrine and he made an ephod and [f]household idols and [g]consecrated one of his sons, that he might become his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.

Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite; and he was [h]staying there. Then the man departed from the city, from Bethlehem in Judah, to [i]stay wherever he might find a place; and as he made his journey, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah. Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to [j]stay wherever I may find a place.” 10 Micah then said to him, “Dwell with me and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a suit of clothes, and your maintenance.” So the Levite went in11 The Levite agreed to live with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12 So Micah [k]consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest and [l]lived in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as priest.”

This story is a sad example of what happens when we don’t train our children properly. Without guidance they will be like the Israelites where everyone “did what was right in his own eyes.”

There is no substitute for parents being involved in the lives of their children. Without involved parents, children grow up to be… truthfully, the odds are they won’t actually “grow up” but will just become adult children like Micah. Micah, the “man” who stole from his own mother, and not just a few bucks, but her whole life savings.

Parents, it’s time to actually parent. Stop being lazy, and take on the responsibility that God entrusted to you. Is it hard? Yes. Scary? Absolutely. Does any of us really know what we’re doing? Sometimes. But God setup the family in the first place, and with His help, you’ll make it through. With his help, you’ll do more than that, you’ll have a lasting impact on the next generation. And that is worth more than a life savings that you may or may not pass on to your children.

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Judges 16:23-31

23 Now the lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice, for they said,

“Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hands.”

24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, for they said,

“Our god has given our enemy into our hands,
Even the destroyer of our country,
Who has slain many of us.”

25 It so happened when [m]they were in high spirits, that they said, “Call for Samson, that he may amuse us.” So they called for Samson from the prison, and he [n]entertained them. And they made him stand between the pillars. 26 Then Samson said to the boy who was holding his hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the house was full of men and women, and all the lords of the Philistines were there. And about 3,000 men and women were on the roof looking on while Samson was amusing them.

Samson Is Avenged

28 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord [o]God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he bent with [p]all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life. 31 Then his brothers and all his father’s household came down, took him, brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. Thus he had judged Israel twenty years.

This had to be the darkest day for Samson, or at least it looked that way. He had been maimed by his enemy, taking away his sight, and put into slavery. If that wasn’t enough, now the Philistines wanted his plight to amuse them, so they put him right in the middle of their celebration feast.

Remember, the whole reason for this celebration was that they believed Dagon had delivered Samson into their hands. They were in the middle of praising their God and reveling in their victory when they called Samson to amuse them further.

But God wasn’t done with Samson, and He certainly wasn’t going to let their idol worship go unnoticed. Thus it was, that right in the middle of Samson’s darkest day, he called out to God, and God answered in a big way. One might think, “but Samson still died!” But did he? We are eternal beings, and though our physical body dies, we live on, and Samson trusted in God. While no one on this earth knows for sure, I suspect Samson went that moment to wait with Abraham for the promised redeemer.

At any rate, the lesson is this. We shouldn’t wait until our darkest time to call out for God, but even when we do, if we believe in Him truly, He will answer. Maybe not the way we think He should, but He will not abandon us.

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Judges 16:15-22

Delilah Extracts His Secret

15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is.” 16 It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was [k]annoyed to death. 17 So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.”

18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all that is in his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. 19 She made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his [l]hair. Then she began to afflict him, and his strength left him. 20 She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. 21 Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison. 22 However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off.

Again, Samson needed to get out, but he chose to stay, until he “was annoyed to death” and gave in to Delilah’s whining. But that’s not what jumps out to me here.

This passage seems to be the end of a strong man, one who could have totally destroyed the Philistine domination over Judah. Samson is captured, they gouge out his eyes, and put him into forced labor.

However, there’s always a “however” when God is involved. Even in this darkest of situations, God wasn’t done with Samson. Why put the “however” in there at all? To set the stage for God to do something big despite overwhelming odds. Samson had lost his strength, his sight, and was a prisoner, what could possibly go right now?

In our darkest days, God has a “however” to redeem our story. Trust Him, and don’t waver, no matter how dark it seems. God is in charge of everything, even the wind, the waves, and the full force of the storm that seems bent on your destruction. He can and will use it for good. Trust Him to be good, and you will not be disappointed.

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Judges 16:1-14

Samson’s Weakness

16 Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her. When it was told to the Gazites, saying, “Samson has come here,” they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. And they kept silent all night, saying, “Let us wait until the morning light, then we will kill him.” Now Samson lay until midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the city gate and the two posts and pulled them up along with the bars; then he put them on his shoulders and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron.

After this it came about that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. The lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and see where his great strength lies and [a]how we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him. Then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.” So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength is and [b]how you may be bound to afflict you.” Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh cords that have not been dried, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh cords that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. Now she had men lying in wait in an inner room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the cords as a string of tow snaps when it [c]touches fire. So his strength was not discovered.

10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have deceived me and told me lies; now please tell me [d]how you may be bound.” 11 He said to her, “If they bind me tightly with new ropes [e]which have not been used, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” For the men were lying in wait in the inner room. But he snapped [f]the ropes from his arms like a thread.

13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies; tell me [g]how you may be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my [h]hair with the web [i][and fasten it with a pin, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” 14 So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his [j]hair and wove them into the web]. And she fastened it with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin of the loom and the web.

Samson’s first clue that Delilah was trouble should have been when she wanted to make him weak. Yet Samson kept coming back to her, even though he knew Delilah was not looking out for him. What man doesn’t want to be strong for his woman? But Samson seemed to think he was invulnerable to her wiles.

It is for good reason that God tells us to flee from temptation. Don’t stick around and dance with it, flirting with desire until your destruction comes. Get out of there! Elsewhere, God tells us in His word that He will always make a way of escape.

That’s an important clue, as He doesn’t promise to make us strong enough to stand there all day. He promises to give us a way to flee temptation. Again, get out while you still can. Don’t mess around with temptation, don’t play games with it, run! God will always give you a way out, it’s up to you to take it.

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Judges 15:9-20

Then the Philistines went up and camped in Judah, and spread out in Lehi. 10 The men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?” And they said, “We have come up to bind Samson in order to do to him as he did to us.” 11 Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so I have done to them.” 12 They said to him, “We have come down to bind you so that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines.” And Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not [f]kill me.” 13 So they said to [g]him, “No, but we will bind you fast and give you into their hands; yet surely we will not kill you.” Then they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.

14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they met him. And the Spirit of the Lord [h]came upon him mightily so that the ropes that were on his arms were as flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds [i]dropped from his hands. 15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, so he [j]reached out and took it and [k]killed a thousand men with it. 16 Then Samson said,

“With the jawbone of a donkey,
[l]Heaps upon heaps,
With the jawbone of a donkey
I have [m]killed a thousand men.”

17 When he had finished speaking, he threw the jawbone from his hand; and he named that place [n]Ramath-lehi. 18 Then he became very thirsty, and he called to the Lord and said, “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant, and now [o]shall I die of thirst [p]and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 But God split the hollow place that is in Lehi so that water came out of it. When he drank, his [q]strength returned and he revived. Therefore he named it [r]En-hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day. 20 So he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

We often think of Samson as this super strong man, but it says “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily…” While Samson may have been stronger than most, his true power came from God, and if he didn’t realize it before, he definitely knew it now.

For when Samson had gained the victory, he turns directly to God because of his immense thirst, and says “You have given this great deliverance…” Samson knew he was but a vessel for the power of God to flow through. For all his faults, Samson knew his true power came from God.

We should not forget this in our own lives. While God gifts many of us (probably all of us) in some way, it is only with Him that we gain our true strength in that gift. Without Him, we are just above average. But when we trust Him for our strength, we can say as Paul did, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

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Judges 15:1-8

Samson Burns Philistine Crops

15 But after a while, in the time of wheat harvest, Samson visited his wife with a young goat, and said, “I will go in to my wife in her room.” But her father did not let him enter. Her father said, “I really thought that you hated her intensely; so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister [a]more beautiful than she? Please let her be yours [b]instead.” Samson then said to them, “This time I shall be blameless in regard to the Philistines when I do them harm.” Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned the foxes tail to tail and put one torch in the middle between two tails. When he had set fire to the torches, he released [c]the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines, thus burning up both the shocks and the standing grain, along with the vineyards and groves. Then the Philistines said, “Who did this?” And they said, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because [d]he took his wife and gave her to his companion.” So the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire. Samson said to them, “Since you act like this, I will surely take revenge on you, but after that I will quit.” He struck them [e]ruthlessly with a great slaughter; and he went down and lived in the cleft of the rock of Etam.

There’s this crazy thing about revenge. It only ever escalates until someone stops trying to get revenge. It is for good reason God tells us “vengeance is mine.”

The Philistines thought they would get revenge on Samson by killing his former wife and her father, but that only brought on a “great slaughter”. When you feel wronged, give it to God. No matter how justified you feel, give it to Him.

Trust God to make things right, and to work things for your good (if you love Him and diligently serve Him), and He will not let you down. That doesn’t mean God is going to take revenge for you. It means He can make the best out of some pretty rotten situations, whereas you could only make it worse. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”