I’m excited to be in the Word with you today!
Today’s readings are Judges 16-18
Rabbit Trails – We have double rabbit trails today as our friend (and sister) Debbie Ingle is helping me out a bit by adding her notes to mine!
Hello Front Porch Family! It is such an honor to come along as Christy’s guest and share with you today. Let’s dig in!
Have any of you been curious about Sampson’s name? Poor Sampson. He really never got off to a great start. While Manoah and his wife were given the absolute privilege of seeing The Angel of YHVH, the context of their history lets us know that they were likely not following YHVH very obediently. It really shows when you understand that they named their child, the child that YHVH promised them, “Like the Sun.” As I write this, it is literally the winter solstice. A very good day for remembering how the pagan nations worshipped the sun. Coincidence? I think I have shared with you before that when it comes to The Word of YHVH, I just don’t believe in coincidences. So…we see that Sampson bears the name of something that pagans revere…the sun.
Well, it seems that was a bit of a backtrack, so now, let’s move forward.
It would seem that the Holy Spirit was definitely with Sampson, but let’s look at how Sampson chooses to use the power that has been given him.
- Judges 16:1-3 Sampson is with a prostitute and pulls of the gates of Gaza for his own benefit. Is THIS why YHVH gave His spirit to Sampson…in order for him to have carnal pleasures and miss near scrapes? Of course not! I pause here to examine the gifts that YHVH has given me…how am I using them? How are you using yours?
- Judges 16:4 In walks Delilah. Her name is Hebrew means “feeble.” Perhaps she was a feeble baby…but in adulthood, I think it could certainly describe her character. (By the way, I make it a habit to use Strong’s Concordance to look up names. There is usually meaning within Hebrew names. If you are not in this habit, it is an easy one to start with Bible Hub and/or Blue Letter Bible).
- Judges 16:6-22 While Delilah may have just been Sampson’s common law wife, I think Proverb 19:13 applied. Delilah’s constant nagging wore Sampson down, and in much foolishness, he shared his secret. While we hate to see any history’s hero taken down, I have to stop and ask myself this — Has Sampson exhibited ANY behaviors worthy of his calling? Has he used ANY of his gifts to save his people or bring glory to YHVH? Has he been obedient AT ALL? Before you get upset…I am not questing Sampson’s “salvation.” However, I am pointing out that Sampson’s lack of obedience was clearly to blame for his circumstances. –Do I expect to live my life selfishly and according to my own standards and expect YHVH to bless me? Do you? As Christy so often reminds us, let us hold our lives up to the straight edge of The Word of YHVH and examine ourselves.
- Judges 16:23-31 Poor Sampson! He has really been brought to the lowest possible point. In YHVH’s mercy, Sampson is granted one more burst of strength. In Sampson’s death, he finally uses his gift to benefit his people. How tragic that it took all that it did to put Sampson in a position to help others. I notice that even in death, Sampson asks to be able to avenge for the sake of his eyes. How I wish that Sampson had grown to care more about avenging for the sake of his people or YHVH. But alas, even in death, Sampson was thinking of himself. Notice that YHVH used him anyway.
There is this little history that feels somewhat misplaced…about Micah and “his Levite.” You see, Micah was doing what I see so many people doing right now. He was creating his own god and his own way of worshipping. How many times have you heard our cultural rhetoric about the “many ways” to get to “enlightenment?” Well, things were much the same in ancient times. Notice we are told that “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Hmmmm…something about that sounds familiar…
When the tribe of Dan seeks new territory, they take Micah’s idol, ephod, and priest with them. We are told earlier in scripture that Dan could not take his territory, so they “came to Laish, to a tranquil and unsuspecting people, and struck them with the edge of the sword….” (18:27). They rebuilt this town and named it Dan. We are told that Dan set up carved images and that along with “Micah’s Levite” Dan had other priests from the tribe of Manassah. –I am tempted at this time to set a timer and see how many broken laws we can all write down within one minute. My guess is that when the timer went off, we would all still be writing!
I wish I could tell you that things were about to get better, but sadly Judges is a downhill slide. How quickly human beings can fall! That is why it is so important that we be Bible readers. When we finish, we need to begin again. Israel has given us many poor examples, but if for one moment we think we would have been any different, we are in danger of the same fall.
Hold tight Front Porch Family!!
I found a poignant quote by F B Meyer regarding Sampson, “Three women, one after another, brought Sampson down. IF only a noble women could have influenced him, as Deborah did Barak, how different his record would have been.”
This is just one of countless reminders that we are to guard the company we keep, using spiritual discernment with regards to who we let in our innermost sphere of influence.
Judges 17:1-4 Micah had stolen silver from his mother and when he found out she’d spoken a curse over the thief, decided to come clean, so she blessed him. I rolled my eyes at this because how many parents end up with kids who would steal from them and they still praise them to the rafters, blinded by their misguided love when they should reproach them to help them grow in wisdom and character.
But the mother says she will dedicate the silver to YHWH and then she goes and has an idol made out of it instead. It is likely that they felt this was a good thing because we’ve seen in this book a return and blending of Israel to pagan ways and worshipping other gods in a seamless fashion, they blend other religions and forms of worship in with what they had been taught (syncretism) and are, as I’ve mentioned before, full of faith in God while being unfaithful to Him, consistently.
Since they have faith and still worship Him though (among other gods) they see no issue with this. It’s a case of “everybody else does it this way so it must be fine.” Despite YHWH’s word being clearly against it.
Judges 17:5 We see that Micah even has a household shrine to multiple gods and places this idol which he claims represents YHWH there. I’m just about dying at this point but still they see no issue with it, so lets take it up a notch…
Judges 17:7-12 A Levite shows up and Micah decides to hire him as his personal priest – IN the house with a shrine to multiple gods, serving essentially Micah in the pseudo role of one of YHWH’s priests. The thing is, this guy isn’t even authorized to be a priest because we read in Judges 18:30 that He was from the tribe of Gershom, and only Levites from the line of Aaron were allowed to be priests so we just have a huge globby mess of syncretism, blasphemy, and making it up as you go along.
So Dan comes along and says they have no land, which is a lie because in Joshua 19:40-42 they are given land. But the thing is that their land was occupied by Philistines and their job, after having been given the land, was to go clear them all out – which apparently they didn’t do and decided to move on to a land that would be easier to claim (weaker people). Judges 18:5-6 Then they ask this imposter priest to tell them the future, which he does, clearly with no guidance from YHWH. He tells them what they want to hear, they think he’s an awesome priest as a result – one of many patterns we see today that mirror Judges.
Their faith, at this point, is in themselves, false gods, and men that they have set up as leaders. They likely have no idea how unfaithful they are to YHWH and they just keep on going full steam ahead further and further away from the path. They offered the priest a better position and he happily accepted, taking the idols he had been serving with him. Judges 18:20
“Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn’t it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man’s household?” The priest was very pleased. He took the ephod, the household gods and the idol and went along with the people.” Judges 18:19-20
So you have people from a line of YHWH’s people, from the group set aside as chosen and special to YHWH, going about claiming faith in Him and being unfaithful in everything they did, while still claiming to be following YHWH. It’s a big old mess – and they still see no issue with it.
The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. They named it Dan after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish. There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. They continued to use the idol Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh. ~ Judges 18:30
Some of the main takeaways from Judges should be :
1. Having faith and being faithful are two entirely different things.
2. Just because we read about it in the Bible does not mean YHWH sanctioned or approved of it. We have to remember the foundational teachings of YHWH and hold up the behavior we read about to see where they are falling away from those. YHWH’s word doesn’t whitewash sin but shines light on disobedience, failings, unfaithfulness, etc, to show us examples and to remind us to keep going back to the foundation for wisdom on what God expects of us.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!