Judges 16-18

Judges 16-18…Samson and Delilah, Samson’s death, and Micah and the Levite.

Samson paid a dreadful price for his folly in being seduced by Delilah. The Philistines gouged his eyes out and put him to grinding in a mill. This was their way of showing that their god, Dagon, the god of grain, had won the victory over the God of Israel. Likewise, when a child of God falls, the unbelieving world is always quick to gloat over him and attribute his failure to an inherent flaw in Christianity.

Their victory was short-lived. While Samson was grinding in the mill, his hair grew and his repentance with it. When the Philistines brought him into one of their drunken festivals, Samson’s strength had returned to the point that he was able to pull the pillars of the building down to kill himself and the Philistines.

How did Samson get into such a mess? How did he lose his strength? Taking things for granted? Yes. Not walking in obedience to God? Yes. Seeing how close he could get to the fire without being burned? Yes. All of these things and more came into play, but the final answer is that he himself became so enamored with the Philistine culture as embodied in and expressed by Delilah that he was blind to everything else.

Samson is a very fitting and appropriate picture of the church today. We, like him, have been called to influence our culture for Christ. We are called to be salt to slow the decay of the kingdom of man and light to show the way to God’s kingdom. But, the culture we are trying to influence is not passive. It has its own doctrine, its own agenda, and its own preachers, and, it is aggressively dedicated to resisting our message and spreading its own. All the more reason to be surrounding ourselves with other believers who can speak truth into our lives, encouraging us and holding us accountable, so we are not deceived.

Judges 13-15

Judges 13-15…Manoah’s wise wife.

It is a great gift to have a Christian companion to go to for counsel and comfort whenever your soul is depressed. Manoah had married a wife who was full of wisdom. She was the better one of the two in sound judgment. She was the stronger believer, and probably that was why the angel was sent to her. She was full of faith, and so when her husband fearfully said, “We shall surely die,” she provided an eternal perspective.

Single men, look at the character of the woman before you pursue her. Is she growing spiritually? Does she have a good reputation in the church? Does she fear the Lord? This is what should be most attractive, not outward beauty.

Proverbs 31:30

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Conversely, there are many warnings in scripture about selecting a wife without consideration of spiritual matters. The man who does this will undoubtedly regret his foolishness:

Proverbs 12:4

“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.”

Speak to your elders/pastors before initiating a relationship. Seek counsel from those wiser than you. Ask for accountability from those who know you best, and pray for direction, wisdom, and purity, because “an excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” ~ Proverbs 31:10.

Judges 10-12

Judges 10-12…Vows

Not every vow that we make is necessarily a lawful vow. That is why we must consider our circumstances very carefully before we make one. If we do not, we run the risk of making a rash and unlawful vow that compounds our sin. During the time of the Judges, Jephthah rashly made a vow to sacrifice whatever came out of His house if God would give him a victory. Instead of breaking his vow like he should have when his daughter came out of the house, he kept it and sacrificed her (Judges 11:29–40). In Jephthah’s haste, he rashly made an unlawful vow and then sinned again by keeping it.

Do you flippantly use the Lord’s name in conversation without even thinking about His majesty or holiness? What about the process you go through before you commit yourself with a vow? Do you consider the situation carefully or do you rush in without much thought beforehand? Spend some time meditating on God’s holiness so that you will not be guilty of profaning His name by using it flippantly or by making a rash vow.

Judges 7-9

Judges 7-9…Gideon’s battle.

Gideon’s story proves that when we are at our least, God can be at His greatest. Like Gideon, we may think that we are proving God, but actually He is proving us. Yet all the while, in grace and mercy, He is giving us far more than we could legitimately ask for or expect, because He knows and understands our needs and because He sympathizes with our weaknesses…we are to take seriously the words of Jesus when He said to His disciples, “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). If we truly identify with Gideon, it should drive us to our knees, seeking from God to rightly discern what He is calling us to do and, secondly, that we might have the faith to believe that He will do it through us. There is all the difference in the world between writing our own agenda and striving to do it for God as best we can and, on the other hand, allowing Him to pick us up and use us in whatever way He chooses.

Judges 4-6

Judges 4-6…The story of Deborah.

God used Deborah to rally the Israelites against Jabin. Humanly speaking, the deck was stacked against Israel, and everyone knew it. General Barak was unwilling to call the Israelites to battle against their Canaanite foes without Deborah “holding his hand,” as it were (4:4–8). Consequently, when the Lord kept His promise to save His people, a woman, rather than the soldiers of Israel, would receive the credit for the victory (vv. 9–10).

Of course, this is exactly what happened. Despite the fact that his army was technologically inferior to Jabin’s, Barak’s force of 10,000 Israelites was able to defeat the Canaanite army. Only Sisera, Jabin’s general was left alive (vv. 11–16). Sisera fled until he came to the home of Jael, the wife of a Kenite with whom Sisera’s kingdom was at peace. But Jael’s ultimate loyalty was not to the Kenites but to Yahweh, the God of Israel, and His people. Jael gave shelter to Sisera, but only so that she could lull him into the place where she could kill him with a tent peg to his head (vv. 17–24). The mightiest general in the region at the time was defeated not by a general with military training, but by a woman empowered by the Lord.

The Lord does not need mighty men to accomplish his purposes. Often, He delights to use the unexpected to fulfill His will. That is exactly what He did with Deborah and Jael.

Judges 1-3

Judges 1-3…The continuing conquest of Canaan, and Israel’s unfaithfulness.

Our culture believes in moral relativism. Today, most people assume that we have a “right” to do whatever we want to do. Ironically, this idea is held as if it were absolute. Objection is raised anytime someone defines immorality objectively. If indeed all have the “right” to believe what they want, the relativist has no basis to object when relativism is condemned.

The book of Judges evaluates moral relativism and shows its consequences. In 2:11, the author asserts that Israel did what was evil in the days of the judges. But what led to this evil was the same moral relativism in our society today. Judges also tells us that in those days everyone did what was right in his own eyes (21:25). Instead of submitting to God, the Israelites embraced individual autonomy. Each person became a law unto himself, and widespread evil resulted.

Sadly, individualism has infected our churches in the form of consumerism. We treat church as another item on our spiritual buffet. However, we don’t have the “right” to function as Lone Ranger Christians. Scripture is clear about submitting ourselves to the authority of a local church. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.” So, are you obeying and submitting to your leaders? These are the elders/pastors in your church, which means if you are not committed to a church, you cannot obey this passage. Christ established His church for our spiritual good, and for His glory. Loving Jesus includes loving His followers (1 John 19-21), and the main context for this is the local church (1 Corinthians 13-14).