August 2, 2020

The Story of Samson: "Who has done this?"

Scripture Reading: Judges 15:1-20

“Who has done this?” This is a question that is asked in our reading today from Judges 15 which is a continuation of a series of events that began in the previous chapter. This is what has happened: Samson has seen a “daughter of the Philistines” who is “right in his eyes”. He wants her. He has his parents “get her for him”. There is an echo in the story of Samson of something that happened already, way back in Genesis 6. Just prior to the story of Noah it says in Genesis
6:1-2, “When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.” What we are being shown in Genesis 6 is when the covenant people hook up with those who do not share faith in the covenant Lord, nothing good comes as a result of the union. The same is now true in Judges 15. It is still true today.

When Samson arrives at the home of his wife, what does he learn? How does he react?
What happens to his wife and her father?

Samson says something interesting in Judges 15:7, “If this is what you do, I swear I will be avenged on you, and after that I will quit.” “I will quit”. We might miss these words if we read the story too fast. “I will quit.” Samson is done. He never asked to be a hero. He never asked to be set apart by the Lord for a cause bigger than himself. Samson quits! And so, after his revenge he exiles himself and goes out to the cleft of the rock of Etam.

Have you ever felt like quitting your calling?
How has God shown that he will not quit either on Samson or us?

In a sad twist of events, Judges 15:11 tells us three thousand “men of Judah”, people of the covenant nation, come to Samson in order to hand him over to the Philistines. They say to him, “Do you not know?” What have you done?” Their words indicate they are people who do not know anymore who they are. They have sold out to the world. They accept their oppression from the Philistines. They are more concerned with preserving their unholy alliance with the enemy then they are in being the people of God. In the greater scheme of things this is showing us that when the Church and the world become indistinguishable from one another, the Church relinquishes its purpose. When the Church and the world are friends, it no longer deserves to be preserved. Michael Wilcock writes, “There is in truth no such thing as a harmonious co-existence between the church and the world, for where there is no conflict it is because the world has taken over.” “This is the bottom of the spiral. Now even Judah is anxious only to live and let live, and would rather bind and betray its savior than have him upset the balance of things.”

How is the Church today tempted to give over to the values of the world?
How do we see an unholy alliance between the people of God and the world in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus?

After he is betrayed by his own people, Samson is handed over to the Philistines. Judges 15:14 says “Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted from his hands.” Samson takes a fresh jawbone of a donkey (again he breaks the Nazarite vow which said he was not to come in contact with anything dead) and he strikes down a thousand people. It’s a brutal, irreligious act
on the part of Samson. And yet, the hidden Agent behind the confrontation is the Lord. If the people of God have sold out to the world, God will still be at work to bring about his purpose for them. God will not quit. God has not quit on you, your family, or his Church. God has not quit on the advancement of his Kingdom.

At the end of Judges 15 Samson is humbled. What is he “dying for” and how does God answer his prayer? (This is the first time we hear Samson speak to the Lord in prayer.)

The story of Samson leaves us with an ambiguous feeling towards the Judge and the things that happen around him. Through the mess of what appears to be nothing more than acts of personal revenge, the Lord is at work to bring about something better. The hidden Agent in this story and in our lives has made himself known fully in the coming of Jesus Christ. We began today with the question: “Who has done this?” The answer is: God has done this. God has confronted the enemy and brought us victory in Jesus Christ. Amen