Judges deals with a period of 300 to 400 years from the time of Joshua’s death to the arrival of Samuel. After Joshua there was no leader for the people of Israel. Instead the tribes acted independently most of the time.
A Pattern: Disobedience>>Defeat>>Repentance>>Deliverance>>Rest
The Book of Judges presents us with a pattern of Christian life. It shows us the ups and downs of obedience and disobedience. Surprisingly this Book shows us how this pattern is oft repeated in the life of the people of Israel.
A look at Chapter 2 tells us the basic framework of this pattern. Let us take a look at it:
● Another Generation Grew Up not Knowing the Lord (v. 10)
“After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” (2:10 NIV). It was such a sad state of affairs to see the people like this after the great leadership of Moses and Joshua. Surely the people had violated the command of God to teach the next generations (Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:7). Remember, it is our primary responsibility to teach the next generation about the Lord.
● Then the Israelites Did Evil (vv. 11, 12)
They forsook God who had brought them out of Egypt. And worshipped Baal and idols and the various gods of the peoples around them. Thus they provoked God to anger. How easily we too forget what God has done for us! How quickly we too plant idols in our hearts and bow down to them!
● God Handed Them Over to Their Enemies (vv. 14, 15)
Because God became angry, He handed the Israelites over to raiders who plundered them. They were not able to resist their enemies. Whenever they went to fight, God fought against the Israelites. And the people were in great distress. Have you ever wondered what it will be like to have God against us?
● Then God Raised Up Judges (vv. 16, 18)
God in His great compassion raised up Judges as deliverers. As we read the rest of this book, we find that God did so when the people cried out to Him in their oppression and repented of their sins. God was with each judge during his or her lifetime and saved the Israelites out of the hand of their enemies and gave them rest. It is good to remember that God always works through people. Would it be that you are one God would raise to meet the need of this hour?
● The People Return to Ways Even More Corrupt (vv. 17, 19)
In spite of God’s mighty deliverances people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. Peter comments, “Of them the proverbs are true: `A dog returns to its vomit,’ and `A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud’ ”(2 Peter 2:22 NIV). Do we behave like these animals? If so, we are no better than the Israelites who returned to ways even more corrupt than before.
God had commanded the Israelites not to live in compromise with the Caananites. He had asked the Israelites to completely destroy the people of the land and their altars. But we find that most of the tribes of Israel violated this specific command (Judges 1:21, 27—36).
This weakened the relationship of the Israelites with their Lord God and led to the oppression we find in later years.
This failure on the part of the Israelites is called to mention by the Angel of the Lord at Bokim (which means weepers) (Judges 2:1—5). God therefore did not fight for the Israelites any more, but used these nations to test them (Judges 2:20—3:4).
Life Lesson: Living in disobedience to God will lead to compromise as illustrated in Judges 3:5, 6. Likewise compromise with sin in our lives will always bring our downfall. 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 7:1 is a passage worthy of our meditation in this context.
Now we’ll take a look at some of the Judges God raised up. One of the important things to note is that one act of valour from the Judge would often secure for the people a long period of peace and rest (usually 40 years or in the case of Ehud twice forty i.e., 80 years).
(son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother)
The Bible says, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war” (3:10). In the short account about this man, the fact that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him stands out. It was the Spirit of the Lord that gave him the ability to conquer the king of Aram.
[We need to remember that in Old Testament times the Spirit of the Lord came only upon a chosen few. But today the promise of the Holy Spirit is for all whom the Lord calls—See Acts 2:38, 39.]. Without the Spirit of God we can do nothing significant for God. Zechariah 4:6 is instructive in this context: “ `Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
For the Love of a Lady
“For the love of a lady” has covered a multitude of actions and the Scriptures highlight them quite frequently. I particularly like the story of Othniel. When Israel started to possess the land God gave them Caleb, one of Israel’s great heroes, said, “He who attacks Kirjath-Sepher and takes it, to him I will give my daughter Achsah as wife.”
Now Kirjath-Sepher was a place full of giants but it did not trouble Othniel. For the love of Achsah he took the city. Achsah also had land which was her inheritance but it was a very dry inheritance. She asked her father Caleb to give her the upper and lower springs and he did!
While this couple lived for the Lord the children of Israel lived for themselves and other gods. While Achsah turned Othniel’s heart even closer to the Lord the men of Israel’s heart were turned away from following the Lord by the Canaanite girls they married.
God is a jealous God and he refuses to allow his own to flirt with or follow other gods without action on his part. . . . The lovely thing in the story is that when the Lord sent them a deliverer the man he chose to do so was Othniel.
I love to think of Achsah having a profound effect on her husband for good and he, in turn, had a profound effect under God over Israel. . . .
Maybe in the midst of it all [referring to a generation turning away from God] there is an Othniel and Achsah of our generation. Maybe there is a young couple who will put God first in their village, town or city and turn their generation back to the Lord.” – Waiting For God by Derick Bingham [Read Judges 1:11—15 and Judges 3:7—11 ].
He is mentioned as a left-handed man (3:15). Today, we are used to left-handed persons especially in the field of sports. Yet left-handed people are still viewed with a strange eye. But Ehud used this difference in him to advantage for God. He made a double-edged sword and strapped it to his right thigh under his clothing. When he drew the sword the king of Moab might never have suspected it because it was Ehud’s left hand that was moving (3:21).
There can be an allegorical element to this story. Eglon, king of Moab, is described as a very fat man. And he was oppressing Israel. And tribute was given to him. But Ehud, with one plunge of his double-edged sword into his belly paved the way for eighty years of peace for Israel. In a spiritual sense, Eglon can stand for all the sins of the flesh that we are subject to (Ref. Galatians 5:19—21). But with God’s help you can crucify the sinful nature with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Eglon’s act of plunging the sword into the fat king’s belly can be symbolic of this.
There is just this one line reference about him. But what is surprising is the instrument he used to achieve his victory. It was an oxgoad. An oxgoad is a pointed stick to drive oxen. How he was able to strike down six hundred Philistines with it is amazing. But the result is, “He too saved Israel.”
Perhaps there is a two-fold lesson here. One, with God even unlikely instruments bring victory. Second, the message is that with God you can make a difference. Because Judges 5:6 tells us that in the days of Shamgar, “the roads were abandoned; travellers took to winding paths.” Shamgar made a positive difference when he saved Israel from this situation.
(Judges 4 and 5)
She was a Judge, a Prophetess, a Deliverer to Israel and a Poetess. She perhaps is one of the finest women portrayed in the Bible.
The Israelites came to her to have their disputes settled as she held court under the Palm of Deborah (4:5). She commands the respect of fighting men like Barak, who in turn becomes willing to go to battle at the Lord’s command only if Deborah would go with him.
It seems that the Presence of God was so strongly with Deborah. That is perhaps the reason why Barak wanted her to go with him to battle. (Compare how Moses prayed to have God’s Presence go with him in Exodus 33:14—16).
One of the greatest privileges you can have in this world is to have God’s Presence go with you. Have you a desire, a burning passion, to have that happen in your life?
● Deborah’s Song
Psalm 40 begins with God’s deliverance. And David says, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3 NIV). So bursting into song is a natural way to celebrate God-given victories. And Deborah had a new song to celebrate their victory (Judges 5).
Commentators say that “There can be little doubt that the words of Deborah’s song were written within hours of the great victory over Jabin and Sisera. The sense of common danger, the joy of united action, the exultation in Jehovah’s deliverance are felt and described with a vividness which could come only in the immediate aftermath of such an experience” – Character by Character, by Selwyn Hughes & Trevor J. Partridge.
The concluding line of that song is one that you can memorize: “So may all your enemies perish, O Lord! But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength” (Judges 5:31 NIV).
● The Iron Chariots of Sisera
“Sisera’s confidence was chiefly in his chariots; therefore particular notice is taken of them, 900 iron chariots, which, with the blades fastened to their axles, when they were driven into an army of footmen, did terrible execution. Deborah gives orders to engage the enemy, 4:14. Josephus [a noted historian] says that when Barak saw Sisera’s army drawn up, and attempting to surround the mountain on the top of which he and his forces lay encamped, his heart quite failed him, but Deborah encouraged him to descend on Sisera, “The Lord has given Sisera into your hands.”– Matthew Henry Commentary.
Comment: “How easily does the thing in which we put our confidence become the means of our undoing. Sisera’s 900 iron chariots were his pride and gave him confidence—yet he was put to death with just one peg!” — Character by Character, by Selwyn Hughes & Trevor J. Partridge.
● The Impact of Deborah’s Life – (Deborah means “A bee”)
“It is difficult to find another woman in the Old Testament with such dauntlessness and determination as Deborah in the Old Testament. Her faith, confidence, confidence, character, intellect and clear-sightedness mark her out as a woman who was God’s gift to the age in which she lived.
The most outstanding lesson we learn from her life is that to the degree that a passion for freedom and deliverance burns in the heart, to that degree one is able to rouse and stir others to rise up and claim their freedom. Deborah felt so strongly about her nation’s predicament that she fired the faith and hope of even such fighting men as Barak.
Although Deborah’s life and witness has a message for both men and women, there can be little doubt that she stands as an encouragement to all those women whose prayerful concern for the times in which we live and the needs of the nation causes a passionate and prayerful desire for deliverance to rise up like a flame within them. Deborah reminds us that women have a great and important role to play in the hour through which our world is passing—and not the least, the stirring up of the hearts of men” — Character by Character, by Selwyn Hughes &Trevor J. Partridge
Let us turn our attention to Barak for a moment. He is mentioned by name in Hebrews 11:32 in the Hall of Fame of Heroes and Heroines of Faith. Yet in the account in Judges his hesitating (Judges 4:8) to advance against the enemies at Deborah’s word is not commended. Deborah told him: “I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honour will not be yours, for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman” (4:9). This woman happened to be Jael who drove a tent peg with a hammer through the temple of the head of Sisera to the ground killing him as he lay fast asleep (4:21).
Life Lesson: The lesson is that you should not hesitate to take command when God specifically commands you to do so. Barak, in spite of being honoured as a man of a faith, eclipses into the shadow of Deborah and even Jael. So do not hesitate to lead when God wants you to lead. Do not go and hide like Saul among the baggage when God wants to crown you the leader (ref. 1 Samuel 10:22).
We now come to the great deliverance that God wrought in the lives of the Israelites through the hand of Gideon. The defeat of the Midianites was so total and complete that they never troubled the Israelites again (Judges 8:28 and Isaiah 9:4).
● The Call of Gideon
Midianite raiders plundered the land of Israel for seven years. Then the people cried out to the Lord. The Lord then sent a prophet to rebuke them for their disobedience and idol worship (Judges 6:7—10). But then the angel of the Lord came to meet Gideon. Now Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. Such was the oppression of the enemy. But then the angel greeted him saying, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12).
Gideon immediately had a blunt question to ask. He asked why all these difficulties had happened to them if God were with them? The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (6:14). Please note that it is God Himself who is speaking here and not some messenger!
Gideon expresses surprise as how his clan which was the weakest in Manasseh and himself the least in the family can save Israel? But God assures that He will be with Gideon and that he will strike down all the Midianites together (6:16).
Life Lesson: Gideon was engaged in work when God called him. Matthew Henry says that “The work he was about was an emblem of that greater work to which he was now to be called, as the disciples’ fishing was. From threshing corn he is taken to thresh the Midianites, Isa. 41.15.”
Remember that God calls you to a greater work only if you are faithful in doing whatever work you have to do today (Read also Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:21). Second, our sense of inferiority is not going to change God’s call on our lives. To our every objection, the simple answer from God is, “I am with you.”
Gideon had not realized that he was talking to God Himself until the angel of the Lord caused fire to flare from the rock to consume the meat and the bread placed there by Gideon. Only when the angel disappeared suddenly did Gideon realize that he had seen the angel of the Lord face to face. He thought he was going to die, but God assured him that he won’t die. So Gideon built an altar there calling it Yahweh-Shalom meaning The LORD is Peace!
Do you know that God is your peace? The Bible says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 NIV). In simple terms it means that when you put your faith in Jesus and His shed blood on the cross, you have peace with God. Then you understand God as Yahweh-Shalom!
● Gideon Is Afraid, Yet Obeys
The Bible says, “That same night the Lord said to him . . .” (6:25). Now what did the Lord say? God asked him to tear down his father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it and then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord his God. And to use the wood of the Asherah pole to offer the second bull as burnt offering. The Bible records that Gideon did so, but he did this at night since he was afraid of his family and the men of the town.
Life Lesson: It is better to obey even when our heart is trembling than to back out in fear. Nicodemus, for example, came to Jesus at night (John 3:1, 2). But later he was the one who boldly accompanied Joseph of Arimathea to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus (John 19:39). So obey God in spite of your fear. A time will soon come when you can take a bold stand for God in the open.
● Gideon Is Confronted
The people found out that it was Gideon who destroyed Baal’s altar. They wanted to kill him. But his father Joash told the people that if Baal is a god, then Baal can take care of himself. So the people called Gideon, “Jerub-Baal” saying “Let Baal contend with him.” Later after his victories over Israel’s enemies also he is criticized. The simple lesson is even when you obey God you’ll face criticism. We are asked by the writer of Hebrews to look to Jesus: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3 NIV).
The Spirit of the Lord
It is recorded, “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him” (6:34 NIV). As mentioned earlier in the case of Othniel, we find the Spirit of the Lord coming upon the judges to enable them to perform great tasks for God. In the case of Gideon, perhaps, we need to note one more point. Gideon obeyed God by destroying Baal’s Altar. That opened the way for the Spirit of the Lord to come upon him. Dear Teens, obedience to God is the key to having the Spirit of God come upon your life.
● Gideon’s Test with the Fleece
This is one of the most widely known incidents of the entire Old Testament. Do you know why? People want to know God’s will for their lives. And they use a test like what Gideon did to know God’s will. But on closer examination of this passage, you’ll find that Gideon used this test NOT to know God’s will.
Because it was already revealed to him that God would defeat the Midianites through his hand (see verse 36). So Gideon was using the test with the fleece for confirming God’s promised deliverance.
Comment: “Putting out the fleece” (asking God to do some special thing to verify His will) is evidence of unbelief and not of faith. God stooped to Gideon’s weakness and did what he asked, and He may do that for you; but this is not the level on which God wants to meet you. Immature faith needs signs for reassurance; mature takes God at His Word and obeys. – Warren Wiersbe
● God, the One Who Encourages Us
The plain fact is that Gideon needed encouragement. And God provided it in abundance. He fulfilled both the requests of Gideon. To us it might seem child-like. But God accommodated this man of faith’s doubts too. This should serve as a mighty encouragement to us too. Later God even takes the initiative to ask Gideon to go down to the enemy camp and listen to what they were saying. God said, “Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp” (7:11).
So Gideon goes and overhears a dream and its interpretation. And this was his response: “When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshipped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, `Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands’ ” (Judges 7:15 NIV). Dear friends, get up and act. For God is encouraging you today to throw away your doubts and follow Him to victory!
● Unusual War Strategy
It is a simple mathematical equation that more the numbers the greater the chance of victory in war. But in the case of Gideon God does something totally opposite and unusual to this piece of wisdom. God said to Gideon that he had too many men with him. If Israel won with so many men, they will boast that it was their own strength that saved them (7:2). So God asked him to ask all who were trembling with fear to go back. 22,000 men left, 10,000 remained.
Comment: “How our lives would be transformed if we could learn the lesson that God delights to be given the credit for our conquests and victories. Pride and egotism want to say, “I did it,” but humility and dependence delight in saying, “God did it.” Which of these attitudes is uppermost in you? – Character by Character, by Selwyn Hughes & Trevor J. Partridge
But God again found the numbers too much. So the Lord asked Gideon to take them to the water where He would sift them for him (7:4). God asked Gideon to separate those who lapped the water with their tongues like a dog from those who knelt down to drink. Only three hundred men lapped the water like a dog with their hands to their mouths. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place” (7:7).
Life Lesson: God cannot do anything with the cowardly. He needs men and women of courage. Are you one with courage for God? Again, God cannot do anything with those who are so relaxed at a time like war that they knelt down and drank water. To do so they would have laid down their weapons. The other 300, however, would have kept their weapons in one hand and lapped the water by taking it in the other hand. So be alert and vigilant for God. Then He will choose you to be in His team.
Trumpets and Empty Jars with Torches Inside (7:16)
THE LIGHT IS THE THING
“The story of Gideon’s attack with torches and cries of `The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon’ has often intrigued me. Strategically what was the significance of the torches?
Imagine yourself going down a road at night and along comes a car. You see lights but you cannot immediately identify if the car is a Porche or a Miniminor! The light is the thing. When the Midianites saw 300 torches they couldn’t see what was behind them and fled.
So you may feel depressed today about the seeming insignificance of your witness for Christ? You may be filled with self-doubt (I’m plagued with the wretched thing). Yet if only one person this year, this month, this day catches sight of something different about you, namely the presence of the light of the world in your life and is led to come to know that light in their darkness does it matter if they cannot see you and your weaknesses for the light that is shining through you? The light’s the thing, discouraged one, the light’s the thing.” – Waiting For God by Derick Bingham, Reading of March 19.
● Gideon’s Mistake—A Sad End
Even though Gideon won a great victory for Israel he made a golden ephod (8:27). That object became an item of worship. This was a sad end to an otherwise an illustrious leadership for God. In fact, Gideon had refused to become their ruler saying that only the LORD will rule over them (8:23). Yet he, knowingly or unknowingly, led the people away from the LORD after his great victories.
“Although his life ends on a sad note, we should not overlook the fact that he had earlier learned how to simply and humbly accept God’s help—an attitude which transforms every insecure struggler into a `mighty warrior’ .” – Character by Character, by Selwyn Hughes & Trevor J. Partridge. Interestingly “Gideon’ means “A great warrior.”
This man is an example of wickedness. He kills his own brothers, seventy of them (only Jotham the youngest son of Gideon escaped) on one stone (Judges 9:5). This all happened because the Israelites did not remember their God (8:34). They also failed to show kindness to the family of Gideon (8:35). These incidents recorded here are a study in evil human behaviour. How short-lived are memories! How sad to note that the good that one man (here Gideon) did for common good is so soon forgotten!
● The Price of Wickedness
But wickedness comes at a huge price. The Bible records, “Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. God also made the men of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of JerubBaal came on them” (Judges 9:56, 57 NIV). Remember always, the wicked are like chaff that the wind blows away and that the way of wicked will perish (ref. Psalm 1:4, 6).
● The Lesson from the Trees
In Jotham’s speech, he talks about the trees that went out to anoint a king for themselves. They approached the olive tree, the fig tree and the vine. The olive tree said that it won’t give up its oil to be king among the trees. The fig tree refused to give up its fruit to be king among the trees. The vine also refused to give up its wine to be king among the trees. (9:7—13).
Life Lesson: The lesson is clear: God has created you unique. Recognizing your uniqueness and being true to what God has called you to be in life is far superior to giving up your God-given abilities to pursue something that looks attractive! All the above-mentioned trees bore fruit. God expects you to bear fruit (see John 15) in your life.
(Judges 11:1 to 12:7)
Jephthah has a place in the Roll Call of Faith in Hebrews 11. His life is an example of what God can do with a person in spite of his or her background. His mother was a prostitute and his brothers drove him away. But that did not prevent Jephthah from being a mighty warrior (11:1 —3).
Comment: We read that Jephthah was put out of his home by his half brothers because he was the son of a prostitute. His father had allowed him to stay in the home but his father’s sin left a huge scar on him socially. . . . Please meditate today on the thought that although your circumstances may be very difficult and obscure all the time God is training you for a greater work that lies ahead. Don’t be afraid to wait for God. He never made a mistake and he’s not going to start with you” — Waiting for God, by Derick Bingham, Reading of March 29.
● Jephthah’s Mistake—A Rash Vow
Jephthah was made the leader and judge of Israel by the people when they were in great distress. He led from the front. And the Spirit of the Lord was upon him (11:29). As he advanced against the Ammonites he made a vow to the Lord, “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering” (Judges 11:30, 31 NIV). And when he came back victorious, “who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines” (11:34)! And she was his only child. And he later did to her as he had vowed (v. 39).
Bible scholars are divided as to whether God would have permitted Jephthah to do such an act. The text indicates that he did. The lesson for us, however, is that we should not make rash vows. The Teacher says, “When you a make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfil your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfil it” (Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5 NIV).
The Israelites do evil again. And the time is ripe for another deliverer to come. The Philistines were oppressing them for forty years now. And God chose a childless couple to bring Samson into this world. But his birth was unusual since the angel of the Lord appeared twice to tell them of Samson’s birth.
The first appearance was to Manoah’s wife to announce Samson’s birth and the second appearance was to Manoah himself in answer to his prayer for instruction as to how to raise up the child. The most important thing was that Samson was set apart to be a Nazirite to God from birth and no razor was to be used on his head (13:5). And it was promised that “he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines” (13:5b) [emphasis added].
● Samson’s Strength and the Spirit of the Lord
Samson was primarily spiritually blessed and gifted. His birth was unique as it was announced by the angel of the Lord in advance. When he grew up, “the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol” (13:24b, 25 NIV).
Primarily his strength lay in the fact that the Spirit of God came upon him in power whenever the occasion demanded it (14:6, 19; 15:14). He was enabled by the Spirit of God to strike down a thousand Philistine men with the fresh jawbone of a donkey (15:14, 15).
● Samson’s Lack of Self-Control
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:23). Samson, though, gifted with strength by the Spirit of God never ever showed a desire to have the fruit of self-control in his life. This led him to many relationships with women. He showed a weakness for yielding to the nagging of the women in his life on more than one occasion (Read Proverbs 27:15, 16 ). This ultimately led to his downfall. At the same time we find God using the occasions of his failure to work out his ultimate purpose of inflicting vengeance on the Philistines (for example 14:19; 15:3—5, 7).
● Samson—the Warrior and the Weakling
One of the lovely verses in the New Testament is found in 2 Corinthians 4:7. It says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (NIV). As we look at one of the incidents of Samson’s life and his cry to God at that time we come to better appreciate the verse quoted above:
At Ramath Lehi (jawbone hill), Samson killed a thousand Philistines with the fresh jawbone of a donkey. That he achieved in the strength of the Spirit of the Lord upon him. At the same time we find how human he was. He became very thirsty and cried out to the Lord saying, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” (15:18). Then God opened up the hollow place there and water came out of it. Samson drank of the water and his strength returned, he revived.
Life Lesson: There is a lesson of vital importance here. When the Spirit of the Lord is upon us we will be enabled to do great things beyond our natural abilities. At the same time we always need to remember that we are not supernatural but ordinary vessels of clay. We are weak.
And the moments we must watch out for are the moments that follow a great victory. Perhaps a thousand Philistines are no match for us when the Spirit of the Lord is upon us. But thirst (or a genuine physical need) can cause us to lose victory quickly, if we do not cry out to God for help immediately. The mercy is that God listens and answers as Samson found out. The spring was called En Hakkore meaning Caller’s Spring.
● Samson’s Downfall—Because He Revealed the Secret of His Strength
The incident of Samson and Delilah is very famous. But we will focus on what Samson did wrong here. He told her everything. He told her the secret of his strength (Judges 16:17). Now why is it that you should not reveal your strength? It exposes you to the enemy. He can easily strike a devastating blow.
You find the same fault (but this time because of pride; whereas Samson was fed up with the nagging of his wife) in King Hezekiah. He showed the envoys from Babylon all that was in his storehouses. And Isaiah the prophet rebuked him for the indiscreet revealing of his strength to others (see Isaiah Chapter 39).
Dear friends, spiritual strength should be carefully guarded like the apple of your eye. Never expose fully your secret communion with God to the public eye. As Jesus commanded, let your giving, prayers and fasting be in secret (Matthew 6:3, 6, 17, 18). Then God will reward you.
● Samson Without God
With God, Samson was a hero. Without God, he was in not time a zero. One of the saddest statements said of any one of God’s heroes of faith in the entire Bible occurs in relation to the life of Samson. When Delilah for the last time called out to Samson, “The Philistines are upon you,” he awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” Then the Bible says, But he did not know that the LORD had “ left him” (Judges 16:20 NIV).
Dear young friends, in whose lap are you sleeping today? (see v. 19) Who is your Delilah? What is that you delight in that is going to take your strength away from you? Be warned of romantic encounters with sin. It will steal you of your strength in God!
“In the day of his power Samson first became prayerless, then careless, then powerless. Take steps now to make sure that same deterioration doesn’t happen in your life—Character by Character.
● The Hair on His Head Began to Grow Again—A Sign of God’s Grace
If Judges 16:20 presents us a clouded sky, 16:22 presents us with a ray of hope. It reads, “But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” When we have been lulled to sleep by sin’s deceptive sweetness and have the light of our eyes gouged out by Satan and his demons, it is quite natural to despair.
But remember we have a God of whom it is said, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3, Matthew 12:20 NIV). He is in the business of restoration, rebuilding, renewal, refreshing and revival like none else!
Samson is shown grace in his defeat and humiliation by God who is faithful to His children at all times. And that grace came in the form of Samson’s hair, the sign of his strength, growing again. Dear Teen, have you fallen into sin? Have you failed in life? Do not despair. But turn to God. He will yet show His grace in your life.
Samson’s Prayer—A Cry for Remembrance
There is an unmatched loveliness in that last desperate yet confident prayer of Samson. He prayed, “O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes” (Judges 16:28 NIV). With that prayer he pushed the pillars of the Philistine temple and “killed many more when he died than while he lived.” A sad end! It need not have been like this!
But the most important lesson perhaps is, it is never too late to cry out to God. The thief on the cross also cried out, “Jesus, remember me” (Luke 23:42) at the last moment and he was heard. Though one should never wait for the last moment, it is never ever late to cry out to God.
Judges 17—21: Everyone Did as He Saw Fit
These chapters show us the depravity of the Israelites at that time. It shows us their idol worship and sexual immorality and bitter fights and loss of lives resulting from it. Perhaps the last verse of Judges sums it all up: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (21:25 NIV). Is Jesus, the one who was born king of the Jews, your king? Or do you live as you think fit?
Judges 2:10,11 Another Generation Not Knowing the Lord
Judges 6:18b I Will Wait Until You Return
Judges 6:40 That Night God Did So
Judges 7:2 You Have Too Many Men
Judges 7:5 Separate Those Who Lap the Water
Judges 7:10,11a Listen to What They Are Saying, Afterward
Judges 8:4 Exhausted, Yet Keeping Up the Pursuit
Judges 13:25 And the Spirit of the Lord Began to Stir Him
Judges 16:20b But He Did Not Know That the Lord Had Left Him
Judges 16:22 But the Hair on His Head Began to Grow Again
Judges 16:28 Remember Me, O God, Strengthen Me Just Once More