The Bible is helpful to show that, while temptation is difficult to deal with, it doesn’t come in many forms. The ploys of the enemy and the flesh are not vast or unique. The enemy uses the same ploys that have been used since the Garden of Eden, simply because there isn’t a reason to change them up. They still work. The desires of the flesh don’t change often either. The essence of temptation has been the same for a long time on account of the wicked nature of the human heart. Since the human heart has a natural tendency to reject the righteousness of God, it doesn’t take much to get a person to stray. Therefore, if the people of God are not diligently looking out for such temptations, the people of God will find that the opportunity to stray is far too frequent. Even the slightest bit of temptation can have devastating consequences as circumstances snowball into situations that seemed manageable at first, but become too much to handle. Knowing this, the people of God would be wise to be vigilant of the world’s ploys to entice the people of God into destruction.
There is a way of thinking that most temptation stems from. The world promotes that “if it feels good” and won’t bring any harm to anyone else, one should pursue such an affection. The world appeals to the fleshly senses of people in order to promote the idea that gratification of the flesh is satisfying and good. This is a lie. Thus, one should learn to recognize the various ways that the world entices to the same offer to do what “feels good” according to one’s flesh so that one can flee from such temptation. The testimony of Judges 19:1-10 shows the consequence of what can happen when one is not vigilant to look out for dangerous enticement. The testimony of Judges 19:1-10 shows that, while some fall into temptation, such “fall” is not accidental, but is the result of one’s conscious efforts to deny God in order to fulfill one’s personal desires that are contrary to Him. One’s position in consequence from temptation is never an accident.
In Judges 19:1-10 the Bible explains that there was a Levite living in the mountains of Ephraim and took for himself a concubine from the region of Bethlehem. Quickly, one should be able to recognize that there are several problems that will lead to greater problems later. First, the Bible explains that this Levite was living in the mountains of Ephraim. This is against God’s commands. The scriptures explain that the entire tribe of Levi was consecrated as a personal possession of the Lord. The Lord took the Levites to Himself as a ransom in order to allow the children of Israel to live freely in the land, separated from bondage. Thus, the Lord appointed the Levites as servants to minister according to the tabernacle sacrifices and worship, and also in the designated cities of refuge. The tabernacle was located in Shiloh during the time of the Judges, which is just north of the mountains of Ephraim. The two closest cities of refuge were Shechem, just north of Shiloh, and Hebron, far south of Ephraim in the area of Judah. Thus, this Levite had abandoned his post and his Levitical responsibilities according to the command of God in order to live according to his own desires rather than God’s righteous commands.
Secondly, the Bible explains that this Levite pursued relationship with certain women in order to further gratify his flesh. He not only rebelled against his ordination as a Levite, but also sought to engage in relationships that would continue to separate him from his priestly responsibilities. The scriptures testify that his concubine was from Bethlehem, which was a city in Judah, but not a city of refuge, and far from the city of Shiloh where the tabernacle was resting. After some time, the scriptures explain that the man’s concubine committed adultery on the Levite and then fled to her hometown in Bethlehem to stay with her father. In that the scriptures candidly state that this woman “played the harlot,” it is likely that her harlotry was public knowledge, in which case the Law calls for her death. The Levite pursued her in Bethlehem, but not to execute the righteous commands of the Law. Instead, the Levite lodged at the home of his father-in-law and complicated his situation by giving in to further enticements that pulled him farther away from the Lord than he already was.
The scriptures state that the Levite sought to take his wife from her home back to Ephraim, but she did not want to leave. Thus, the woman’s father asked the Levite to stay a couple of days. He stayed three days, and the scriptures are specific to state that the men “ate and drank and lodged there.” In other words, the men relaxed and “enjoyed life” indulging in the pleasures that they could afford and just hung around for a three-day mini vacation. While this might not seem to be harmful, one must consider that the Levite had already expressed rebellion against God by moving away from his God-appointed post, and later relaxed in his decisions to continually disregard the righteousness of God without any conviction.
The Bible testifies that the Levite prepared to leave with his wife on the fourth day, but again was enticed to stay. The next day the Levite tried to leave again to return to Ephraim, but was enticed to stay. The Levite was not able to leave until the night of the fifth day. Each time the father-in-law and the wife sought to convince the Levite to stay, they proposed that the Levite, “refresh his heart” or let his “heart be merry.” The ploys of these two people were centered on convincing the Levite to gratify his flesh absent spiritual conviction. They wanted the Levite to ignore any conviction that he might have had regarding his rebellion and disobedience, just so that his heart could be satisfied with selfish carnal pleasures. They continued to eat and drink and feed their flesh for a week. As the Levite settled in for three days, he put himself in position to stay for another, and then another, and so on.
As the testimony of this Levite continues, the Bible explains that he would suffer dire consequences that had repercussions for all of Israel. All of this complication started with the initial decision that the Levite made to abandon his post as a Levite. As a Levite, God had called him to a special purpose to live holy as the Lord’s own possession. The Levite decided for himself that he did not want to live according to the Lord’s commands and left the city he was appointed to in order to live according to his own standards. As the Book of Judges previously stated about Israel at this time, “everyone was doing what seemed right in their own eyes.” Since the Levite was not being motivated by the righteous commands of God and was not seeking to please Him, he put himself in position for greater danger. The simple offers of food and drink became more appealing to him so that the Levite was far from his post, ignoring the priestly responsibilities God had appointed him to, and was setting a trap for himself that would cause destruction in the lives of many people. While the offer of, “If it feels good, just do it” was made, the Levite worked to arrange the destruction that was heading his way. The awful consequences that the Bible will describe were not an accident. They were not the fault of God. This man made the choice to deny God, thereby separating himself from God and the spiritual protection and wisdom that God provides. Thus, the scriptures show that when people seek to feed their flesh, they will inevitably distance themselves from God, making themselves easily susceptible to the simple temptations of the world that ruin lives. Heed this powerful warning that the Bible provides for good purpose!
There are many people that reject the presence of God and refuse to submit to Him, then hate the consequences of such foolishness. The Bible teaches that the difficulties that people suffer on account of denying God is not His fault. People have no one to blame but self. The scripture plainly state, and give historical testimonies to verify, that people have a natural tendency to reject God, and suffer on account of rebellion, not ignorance. The scriptures teach that those who will suffer the righteous judgment of God will suffer because they pursue the affections of their own wicked hearts rather than the revelation of God’s righteousness that He makes freely available. Regardless of the accusations of many, the Bible does not teach that God sends people to hell. The Bible actually teaches the contrary: that God makes Himself freely available as Savior to offer the gift of eternal life. Yet many people select to deny God’s gift, pursue their own affections, and do what seems right according to personal affection rather than God’s clearly communicated righteousness.
The history of Israel proves these ideas to be true. In Judges 18:1-31 the Bible shows that the people of the tribe of Dan were doing what seemed right in their own eyes, rather than according to the righteous commands of God. The people of Dan had access to God but did not have any regard for Him or His Word. First, Judges 18:1-31 explained that the people of Dan had not yet taken their land inheritance at that time. Though many generations had passed since Joshua had died, the people of Dan were indifferent to the command of God to take the inheritance He was providing for them. God promised the children of Israel a great land inheritance. Joshua had appointed each tribe their land allotment. The children of Israel were commanded to take their land, possess it, and enjoy the provision of God according to His promises. While the scriptures do not explain why, the people of Dan were indifferent to their inheritance and had not taken it. The people of Dan didn’t consider their inheritance to be a priority or a desired thing that they would take it with urgency. Rather, the people of Dan waited and decided to take their inheritance several generations later in disobedience to God’s command.
When the people of Dan finally sought to take their inheritance, the scriptures state that they sent five spies into the land to learn about it. Though God had already assured the children of Israel that each portion of land was good in nature, the people of Dan sent spies to gauge the quality of their inheritance anyway. This shows that they did not trust in the Word of God. The people of Dan did not desire the things that God had promised with urgency because they did not believe that the l and was as good as God sent. Hence, they sent five spies to see for themselves. The scriptures state that the spies went into Dan from the mountains of Ephraim, and when they camped out to assess the situation, they found the man Micah that had set up a shrine and hired a Levitical priest has his own personal priest. Seeing that Micah outwardly appeared to be a religious man, and seeing that a Levitical priest was living in his home, the five spies inquired of them to see if the Lord God would show favor in an advance against the people living in the land they were seeking to take.
The manner of their inquiry is with great error. First, one must consider that God had already given the command to His people to take their land and possess it – several times. God had already sworn to give the people the land as He had promised. There was not a need to inquire unless the people felt it necessary on account of the time they had taken to obey God’s Word. It is possible that the people of Dan might have thought that God’s promises and favor had expired on account of the time they had taken to pursue His benefits. This reflects the people’s ignorance of God, His promises, and His purposes. Secondly, the five spies sought to know God’s will by inquiring from idol worshipers that were living contrary to the commands of God. Micah had built a shrine made up of molded and carved images in direct rebellion to God’s second command. The priest that Micah had hired had left his post concerning the service of the tabernacle in order to facilitate the worship of idols in direct rebellion against God. How could those who deny and rebel against God speak on His behalf? How could people that reject God’s Word speak on behalf of His will and purposes? In that the five spies inquired of these men to know God’s will, this also shows the extent of their ignorance of God and their disconnection from Him.
The Bible explains that the priest of Micah’s household assured the spies that they would have favor and encouraged them to take advantage of their opportunity to prosper. Thus, after the spies saw that the land was filled with peaceful people, and receiving assurance from the Levitical priest of Micah’s house, the people of Dan assembled six hundred men to overtake their inheritance. However, as the people of Dan led the way into their land inheritance, the five spies that were staying with Micah sought to take his gods, idols, and kidnap the Levitical priest. They propositioned the priest to become their priest They proposed that it would be better for that man to be priest for a whole tribe rather than the personal priest of a single household. The priest agreed with excitement, figuring that his ministry was growing. This proposition continues to show the dissatisfaction that the people had for God’s commands and the revelation of His righteousness. God had already given commands regarding the duties of the Levitical priests, including how they were supposed to serve, where they were supposed to serve, and the quality of service that would be pleasing to God. The ideas of the spies and the agreement of the priest show that these people were in complete opposition to God’s previously stated commands. As stated before, everyone was doing what seemed right in their own eyes, which ultimately ended up being rebellion against God’s righteous Word.
When Micah saw that the people of Dan were taking his idols, gods, and priest, he tried to contend with the people of Dan. His neighbors originally stopped the fives spies that took Micah’s possessions, but when the six hundred men armed for war went to help the spies, Micah had to accept that he was not in a position to contend. The Bible explains that Micah expressed his sorrow in a pitiful manner. When his gods, idols, and priest was taken, he complained, “What more do I have?” It is sad to see that a man from the tribe of Ephraim was so devastated by the loss of simple possessions; especially considering that those possessions were evil in the eyes of God. Though Micah was intended to be a child of God, entitle to a heavenly inheritance that does not corrupt or fade, he rejected God’s inheritance, sought material possessions, and allowed his life to be defined by them rather than the Lord. Hence, when his possessions were taken from him, his life seemed ruined and worthless. It is a sad affair when one would consider one’s life to be in such despair when one looses simple material possessions – especially when such possessions are the objects of one’s worship. What kind of god or idol is worth such affection and attention if it can be taken from one’s life so easily?
Judges 18:1-31 explains that the people of Dan took their inheritance, and also the possessions of Micah. As they settled in their land, they took the gods, idols and priest of Micah and set them up in their town as the focal point of their worship. They did not seek after God even though the tabernacle was set up close to their inheritance in Shiloh. The Bible is specific to mention that the whole time these things were happening, the house of God was in Shiloh, which is just north of the mountains of Ephraim, close to where Micah lived, and where the five spies camped out. The house of God was not inaccessible to the people. The presence of God was not hidden from the people. Though the people of God did not know the Lord and His righteousness according to His Word, it was not because God did not make Himself known. The people simply didn’t care. The people sought the affections of their own hearts rather than the presence of God. The people weren’t worshiping idols and false gods as a way to connect with the One True Living God because they didn’t know better. These people were close enough to the tabernacle to know the God that resided upon it. The actions of these people show that they sought to do what seemed right to themselves according to their own personal desires. Indifference is not the same as ignorance. This is not pleasing to God and scripture will show that this sort of indifference comes with GREAT consequence.
There is a way of thinking today that if a person is doing something that seems good to them and isn’t hurting anyone else, it should generally be accepted. This is absolutely wrong according to the Bible. Additionally, the Bible shows that this way of thinking is not new. People have always been questioning God’s Word, testing His righteousness, and seeking to reinvent new forms of justice and goodness for a long time. History shows that mankind has continually failed. The current condition of the world does not reflect one where the thoughts of human beings to improve upon God’s standards have been effective. Things are not better today than they were in the beginning before sin. The scriptures show that mankind’s attempts to improve things apart from the standards of God have failed and continue to fail. Hence, the “righteous” standards of mankind are not righteous at all and unacceptable to the Lord, making life harder and more complicated rather than providing improvement.
The Bible shows that people have been trying to do right according to the standards of their own minds as if it were worship service to God for a long time. People often criticize the history of Christianity as if it is a slight to God, when the Bible shows that people have been seeking to worship God according to their own standards rather than God. People have been adding to the commandments of God. People have been misinterpreting the Word of God. People have been motivated by their wicked hearts, and have preferred to ignore the plain text of God’s Word to follow their wicked desires. Such was for much of the history of the children of Israel. In Judges 17:1-6 the Bible begins repeating a phrase to describe the general temperament in Israel. The scriptures state that there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. This means that there was no standard of authority and righteousness. There was no singular standard of justice. Everyone took it upon themselves to determine what was right and wrong according to their own opinion so that everyone lived in a manner that was self-seeking and self-serving. As a result, the righteousness of God was not clearly seen amongst the people of God.
Judges 17:1-6 provides an example of one family doing what was right in their own eyes, in which the righteousness of God was heavily perverted. The scriptures state that there was a man named Micah living in the mountains of Ephraim. His mother had eleven hundred shekels of silver that he stole from her and later confessed it to her. While he wanted to have the money, he knew that his mother had kept it for a special purpose in her heart. The Bible explains that Micah’s mother had saved that money in order to pay someone to make a molded image and carved image of God for her son to keep in his home. Therefore, Micah returned the money to his mother and his mother rejoiced that she was able to fulfill her desire. Thus, Micah’s mother took the money she had saved and had a molded image and carved image of God made for Micah to keep in his home.
One must consider that the mother of Micah thought she was doing a good service for her son. The Bible explains that she felt she was actually worshiping the Lord by using her money to buy molded and carved images of God. However, Exodus 20:3-6 states:
"You shall have no other gods before Me. "You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness [of anything] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth [generations] of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
The second of God’s main ten commandments explains that God forbid the children of Israel from making idols and other images that were intended to represent Him. The scriptures state that God is holy. Thus, God did not want the children of Israel using the corrupted elements of the earth to represent Him as holy, thereby cheapening His value. The Bible teaches that, apart from Jesus, no one has ever seen God. Thus, God did not want the children of Israel relying on the creativity of their own corrupted minds to form objects that represented God, thereby cheapening His value. When God created the heavens and the earth, He formed the firmament on the second day, in which case He created a divider that separated Himself from all other facets of creation, elevating Himself above all things. God did not want His people using “common things” to represent His holy nature.
According to Exodus 20:3-6, one’s obedience to the second commandment is predicated on one’s understanding of God’s nature as a jealous God, and as a deliverer. God stated that He is the Lord God. He is the One that removed the children of Israel from bondage. While the Egyptians had their idols, their carved and molded images were useless and powerless. For this reason, God did not want His people adopting pagan practices that made Yahweh seem like the fake gods of mankind’s imagination. The reason for this was because God is jealous in nature. The Egyptians made molded and carved images to their gods because they dedicated their lives to those gods by worshiping those objects. The original language explains that God is jealous as a loving husband would be jealous over his bride. God does not want to share His people no more than a loving husband would want to share his wife with other men. God does not want His people longing for other ideas and images in place of Him any more than a loving husband would want his wife longing for other men to appease her desires. God does not want His people trusting in and depending on other gods for satisfaction and peace no more than a loving husband would want his wife trusting in and depending on other men to be satisfied.
When one considers the simple command of Exodus 20:3-6 in context with Judges 17:1-6, one can see that the children of Israel had grown to a place where they didn’t know God. They did what was right in their own eyes because they had forgotten about the holiness of God’s perspective. They had forgotten about the jealousy of God. They had forgotten about the mercy of God that had removed them from the bondage of Egypt. Though the Bible explains that Micah’s mom sought to worship God by her actions, she did so without considering the commands of God that already provided the basis for pure and undefiled worship. One cannot make up one’s own methods of worshiping God, especially when one’s own methods contradict the commands that God has already proclaimed regarding such. Thus, while some have historically stated that they have their own unique relationship in which they worship God “their own way,” one can see that this form of thinking has existed for a long time and is against God’s commands.
Judges 17:1-6 explains that upon receiving her molded and carved images, she gave them to her son. Micah then proceeded to ignore the simple commands of God’s laws even more, further making up his own brand of righteousness as he went along. Micah set up a shrine in his house that he felt was dedicated to the Lord. Micah made an ephod, consecrated his sons, and made them his own personal priests. In other words, Micah set out to invent his own form of religion to worship God his own way as he saw fit and right. Though God had already given commands concerning the priests and their exclusive roles and responsibilities, Micah sought to develop his own rules. While the sacrifices and worship of God was to take place under the leadership of the Levitical priests, Micah expressed dissatisfaction with God’s commands and made up his own. While the glory of God was resting over the Ark of the Covenant in Shiloh at the Tabernacle, Micah sought to form his own system of worship to duplicate God’s methods and glory. Micah felt he was worshiping God, but as the Bible explains, he didn’t even know who God was to worship Him. Micah was blaspheming God’s holiness, rebelling against God’s righteousness, and provoking God to jealousy!
The scriptures explain that nothing good happens when people take matters into their own hands such as documented in Judges 17:1-6. There are many who make up their own religion as they go, feeling they have the liberty to worship the holy, righteous, just, and jealous God in any manner they see fit, at the expense of God’s commands. According to the scriptures, these people don’t even know the God they say they are serving, and thus, end up worshiping their own fleshly desires as if they are God and have the authority to change His standards and proclamations. The history of Israel shows that this way of thinking and living inevitably leads to destruction 100% of the time. While Judges 17:1-6 provides one small example of this wicked manner of living amongst one family, the Bible will go on to show how this way of thinking had infected the minds and hearts of God’s special people, causing great calamity. While the world may promote the idea that it is good and acceptable to “do what is right in one’s own eyes,” the world promotes this idea as if that way of living is okay if it doesn’t hurt anyone else. However, the Bible explains that this way of thinking results in great damage to many people. It is impossible to live this way so that no others get hurt. Therefore, those who seek to worship God and follow Him must not seek to do so according to their own ideas thereby provoking God to jealousy and anger. Instead, those who seek to worship God should seek to know the God they desire to worship according to the truth of His Word, then follow the example that He set for Himself in the flesh through Jesus Christ. There is no other acceptable form of worship that will please God unless it is according to the righteous standards of His laws as exemplified by the works of His Son, motivated and manufactured by His Spirit.
The Bible teaches that people do not have the liberty to make up their own preferred methods of worship of God. The scriptures clearly dictate God’s righteous standards of worship. The Bible already shows the means by which one can worship God so that it is acceptable to Him. One cannot make up one’s own religious practices, methods of service, or attributes of praise and assume that because it is directed towards God that it will be pleasing to Him. God is holy and there is none like Him. According to God, the hearts of all people are deceitful and desperately wicked. God examines the righteousness of human beings as equal to a filthy rag – worthless. Since people are not in a naturally pleasing condition to God, the Lord gave very specific commandments that show the standards of God’s own righteousness so that one can see what an acceptable offering to God should look like. One can find these examples through the Law of Moses, but ultimately in the life of Jesus Christ. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension all prove that Jesus is the model that all of God’s people must follow in order to worship God in spirit and truth. If one’s practices of worship, service, religious practices or praise differ in any way, shape, or form from Jesus, then one is making up one’s own methods that will ultimately be denied by God.
The Book of Judges is a book that shows the candid history of the children of Israel in how they repeatedly offended God, seeking to do their own thing rather than obeying God. The Book of Judges repeats a phrase that explains why the children of Israel suffered from the tragic consequences of sin. Though the children of Israel felt they were doing right in seeking to honor God, the Bible explains that, “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The children of Israel did not look to the scriptures to know what was right and wrong. The children of Israel did not pursue the righteousness of God to know right and wrong. The children of Israel did not seek the wisdom of God in order to please God. Instead, the children of Israel just made things up as they went along according to their own opinions that were based on selfish desires. As a result, the children of Israel did not even know the God they thought they were serving. While they mentioned His name and practiced some of His institutions, the people in Israel were more motivated to do things according to their own standards of self-righteousness rather than the righteousness of God that was clearly communicated in His Law.
In Judges 17:7-13 the Bible explains that the people in Israel were making up their own religious practices in order to serve God and please Him. Unfortunately, the practices that the people were adopting were in direct contrast to the previously communicated commandments of the Law. The scriptures explain that a man named Micah that was living in the mountains of Ephraim had built a shrine in his home. This was sin according to the commands of God. The scriptures clearly explain that the true “shrine” of Israel was the Ark of the Covenant where the presence of God hovered over the mercy seat, which was located in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle of meeting that was set up in Shiloh. When Micah sought to build up his own shrine, he sought to duplicate that which was true and real in Shiloh, but in his own home, apart from the Lord. The Bible teaches that God alone is glorious and He does not share His glory with false gods and idols. Micah’s shrine was made up of molded and carved images that his mother gave to him, that he assumed would be glorious like the Lord.
The scriptures also explain that there was a Levitical priest that went to live with Micah as his own personal household priest. The Bible states that this priest originally lived in Bethlehem in Judah, but took it upon himself to leave his Levitical post and pursue other opportunities. This man departed from his holy post and journeyed through Israel “to stay wherever he could find a place.” This is a problem! Number 3:12-13 says this about the entire tribe of Levi:
"Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be Mine, "because all the firstborn [are] Mine. On the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast. They shall be Mine: I [am] the LORD."
The Lord clearly communicated that every Levite was His own possession. The Lord delivered the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, but there was cost associated with this deliverance. There is a cost associated with all redemption. The Lord explained that, while it originally cost the lives of the first born in Egypt to take Israel out of bondage, it would require the lives of the Levites to stay out of bondage. The children of Levi were consecrated unto the Lord and set apart from the rest of Israel to perform special services unto the Lord in order to maintain the freedom of Israel. The Levites were to be priests that performed specific works according to the commands of the Law that were to facilitate the sacrifices and worship of the rest of Israel. The Levites were called to live according to a specific lifestyle that God ordained. They were to live in the place where the tabernacle was in order to perform the duties associated with the maintenance of the tabernacle. Those who didn’t live near the tabernacle were to live in the cities of refuge that God appointed in order to facilitate sacrifice and worship in those places. The children of Levi were not given a land inheritance as the rest of the children of Israel because their calling and ordination as priests unto the Lord was supposed to be their inheritance.
Unfortunately the testimony of Judges 17:7-13 expresses a total disregard for the commands that God previously gave. The testimony of Judges 17:7-13 does not take the declaration of God from Numbers 3:12-13 into any sort of consideration. The Levitical priest that left his post in Bethlehem did so against the will and command of God. Micah took the priest into his home in order to serve his personal shrine that was filled with idols, which is also completely contrary to the commands of God. To make matters worse, as the priest grew comfortable in the household of Micah, being paid and taken care of to serve idols made against God’s laws, Micah actually figured that he would be more pleasing in the sight of the Lord. When Micah and his mother built their shrine, they did so figuring their dedication would be pleasing to God. The second of the ten commandments clearly stated that the children of Israel were not to do such things. God said that the manufacturing of any idols of any sort would provoke Him to jealousy and anger. Micah and his mother completely disregarded God’s declaration. Micah then felt that God would show him more favor because he was able to get a Levite to serve as a priest in his home. Once again, Micah totally disregarded the Word of God as proclaimed in Numbers 3:12-13.
Though Micah figured that he had good ideas that would impress God and please Him, Micah had no idea who God was and did not regard His Word at all. Micah did what seemed right to him, but relying on the corrupted nature of his own heart and mind; not the righteous commands of God. While Micah thought he was pleasing God and would earn His favor, the Bible shows that his ignorance of God had him doing things that were in complete opposition to that which actually pleases God. In other words, while God might have communicated to His people to go right, Micah, not knowing God, figured God would be impressed if he went left, appointing a Levite as the leader. One cannot make up one’s own rules, processes, and attributes of worship. As the scriptures show, when people seek to do things that seem right in their own eyes, people are governed by their wicked and deceitful hearts, performing righteousness that is as filthy rags, and inevitably do that which is contrary to God provoking Him to jealousy and anger, and eventual judgment.
It is important to understand the true reason why God provides favor to His people. God forgives sins. God provides eternal life. God answers prayer. God heals. God rescues. God delivers. God strengthens. God encourages. God comforts. Yet, for all of these benefits that God provides, one must understand that God’s true motives are centered on His own glory. In other words, while God might forgive sins and provide eternal life, He does so in order to glorify Himself through the display of His mercy, grace, love, and power to regenerate the human soul. Though God answers prayer, God only does so in order to communicate and fulfill His purposes as documented in the Word. The testimony of Jesus made it extremely clear that God heals, rescues, delivers, strengthens, encourages, and comforts; but Jesus was candid to explain that it was on account of the Father to magnify His name and exalt His character so that the people of God could praise and worship Him in response to the favor that He provides. Thus, the favor that God’s people receive is never on account of the qualities of that person. God’s people don’t earn God’s favor. God’s people receive His favor even when they don’t deserve it. Therefore, when studying the Bible, it is important to recognize how God is being glorified through the distribution of benefits to His people.
This truth is plain and clear through the testimony of Samson. The testimony of Samson proves that, while Samson eventually received favor, the favor he received was tempered in discipline, and came in the context of consequence. Judges 16:23-31 explains that God ultimately used Samson to judge the Philistines on account of the oppression that they had waged against the children of Israel. Samson destroyed a great number of Philistine authorities and key figures because of the strength that God provided. However, Samson was only able to do so because God was seeking to glorify Himself and reveal His amazing attributes through the victory of Samson. Recall that God had allowed the Philistines to oppress the children of Israel on account of the idolatry that was going on in Israel. Thus, Israel was not deserving of favor or the revelation of God. Nevertheless, the scriptures explain that God heard the cries of His people after He disciplined them for forty years. When God made efforts to relieve His discipline, He visited the parents of Samson Himself in the form of the Angel of the Lord and promised Israel a deliverer in Samson.
The scriptures then revealed that God’s deliverer hardly looked the part. Though Samson was kept as a young boy by his parents according to the traditions of the Nazarite vow according to the command of God, Samson lived contrary to the righteousness of God. Samson was God’s ordained and appointed deliverer and was to be used as God’s instrument of righteous judgment against those that oppressed God’s people. However, Samson lived according to the desires of his flesh. He was governed and ruled by his inward lusts, not the righteous commands of God. He was friendly to the people that God appointed him to judge. Samson often sought sexual and intimate relationships with Philistine women even though he was born for the purpose of destroying them. The testimony of Samson shows that God made use of Samson’s closeness to the Philistines so that many were killed through the broken relationships that Samson had with the enemy. Nevertheless, the scriptures are candid to show that Samson’s motives against the Philistines were always person, and never on account of the righteous commands of God. While it was good that Philistines were being destroyed according to God’s will, the means by which Samson fulfilled God’s will was not good for Samson.
Judges 16:23-31 explains that Samson’s sinful desires of the flesh caught up to him. Samson thought that he could continue in sin, assuming that the Lord’s grace would abound without consequence. Samson was wrong. The scriptures show that God does have a threshold of patience, and when that threshold is crossed on account of the persistent wickedness and rejection of His people, God will give His people over to the consequence of sin as discipline and as a demonstration of His righteous judgments. Samson continued to pursue relationships with the Philistines, relying on the strength of God to overcome the Philistines when there was danger present. However, Samson didn’t consider that his behavior and that the desires of his heart would distance him from God and the strength that God provided. As Samson gave into the temptation that the Philistine woman Delilah presented, Samson allowed his hair to be cut, which was the outward identification of his Nazarite vow to God. Samson desired the affections of his flesh more than God, despised his vow to God, and put himself in position to be captured. God allowed this to take place.
The Bible explains that when the Philistines captured Samson, they mocked him and plucked out his eyes. More specifically, Judges 16:23-31 explains that the Philistine people mocked God because of their victory over Samson. The scriptures state that the Philistines worshiped their god Dagon and accredited Dagon to the victory over Samson. Though God was disciplining Samson on account of his sin, the Philistines figured their false god was the cause of their success. The Philistines were celebrating the work of a false god though the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was responsible for it all. The Philistine people praise Dagon, sang songs to him, and celebrate his strength by brining Samson before a great crowd in their auditorium to perform for them. The Philistine people made a jester out of God’s anointed. The scriptures explain that the hearts of the Philistine people were merry on account of the strength of their god verses Samson.
The Bible teaches that God will not be mocked. The Bible teaches that God will always prove Himself to be supreme over all things. The Bible teaches that there are no other gods and that the One True Living God – Yahweh – will always prove this to be true. Though the Philistine people celebrated their victory, the testimony of God and explanation of His character according to the Bible explains that their celebration was going to be short lived. Judges 16:23-31 reveals that as the people mocked God by mocking Samson, the anger of Samson was aroused. Though Samson had not cried out to the Lord previously, the Bible explains that the mocking got underneath the skin of Samson. The humiliation that God allowed finally caused Samson to break in his pride so that he called out to the Lord. However, Samson didn’t cry out to the Lord in order to avenge the name of the Lord God Almighty. The Bible shows that Samson cried out to the Lord seeking strength to destroy the Philistines in order to avenge himself since the Philistine people plucked out his eyes. Nevertheless, Samson at least trusted in the Lord’s strength, acknowledging that he had none of his own. He inquired of the Lord, asking the Lord for strength in order to destroy the Philistines and shut their celebration down.
God responded. However, as God provided Samson with strength to tear down the columns of the structure the people were in, one must understand why God responded. While Samson demonstrated faith to cry out to God for strength, his motives weren’t as pure as should have been. Samson’s motivation was personal, not Godly. God does not provide benefits to His people to glorify the people. He provides benefits to His people to glorify Himself. While God did give Samson the strength he asked for, Samson died in the judgment that he rendered on God’s behalf. The Bible explains that Samson’s victory against the Philistines at that moment was the greatest victory of his life. However, Samson was forced to give his life in exchange for that victory. When Samson pulled down the support columns of the structure, thousands of Philistine men and women died, but Samson died with them. God did not excuse the conduct and motives of Samson, but was still able to use Samson according to His original purpose. Yet, one must keep in mind the mocking of the Philistines to recognize God’s motives for hearing and answering the prayer of Samson.
God provided strength to Samson in that moment to glorify Himself, not Samson. The strength that God gave to Samson at that time revealed several important things about God, not Samson. First, it proved that God is faithful to fulfill His promises. He promised Israel that He would deliver them from the oppression of the Philistines, and God indeed struck a heavy blow against their top people. God appointee Samson to the position of judge for Israel, and though Samson had a hard time, he was ultimately used in the manner that God previously ordained. Additionally, God proved that He alone is God! The Philistines celebrated their victory over Samson and recognized Dagon as the source of their power. Yet the man that they figured to be defeated was the ultimate cause of their death because God is never defeated and will not be mocked! Dagon was powerless against God’s determined will to judge the Philistines. Dagon could not prop up the building that Samson tore down by the strength of the Lord God Almighty. Dagon could not protect his people. When God destroyed the Philistines, He proved that trust in the false gods and idols that exist is totally futile. God alone is God and there is no other. Thus, God provides victory, strength, and hears the prayers of His people on account of His own namesake! Praise God!
It is true that there are great tragedies, injustices, and evils that take place in this world. However, the misconception is that “bad things happen to good people.” According to the Bible, this is not true. The scriptures teach that there are none who are righteous and none who do good in the eyes of God. Others have stated that the Bible is a fraud on account of the bad things that happen in this world, since a God of love should not permit these types of things. However, this way of thinking also is incorrect, and expresses ignorance of God’s character, nature, and of general Biblical truth. The evil things that take place in the world cannot be considered the fault of God. God is the source of anything that is good. The tragedies, injustices, and evils that take place in this world are on account of the wickedness of the human heart that seeks to rebel against the righteous commands of God. Bad things happen because bad people do bad things, think bad things, and rebel against God’s standards of righteousness and goodness, setting up opportunities for tragedy and disaster.
This truth doesn’t only apply to non-believers. This principle is true of God’s own people as well as evidenced by the testimony of Samson. The testimony of Samson is a good example of a tragic set of circumstances on account of the wicked desires of the individual that suffered. God was not at fault for the things that happened to Samson. Had Samson lived according to his calling, he would not have been in the position that placed him in harm, and would have been a different kind of hero. However, Samson was just as human as any other person. He too had desires according to his flesh. He too wanted to do things that were contrary to the will of God and the righteousness of God. He too made efforts to put himself in positions of danger and harm, tempting the Lord in hopes that he could appease his flesh while receiving the favor of God at the same time. Like many other people throughout history, Samson had to learn the hard way.
In Judges 16:18-22 the Bible explains that Samson suffered greatly. Though Samson was appointed by God to be a deliverer for Israel, Samson sought to live according to his own standards of righteousness rather than God’s standards. Though God appointed Samson for a holy purpose as a judge in Israel, Samson sought to live according to his carnal desires for women against the commands of God. Samson figured that as long as he kept his hair long as outward identification of his Nazarite connection to God, he could live with his heart focused on other things that are against God and get away with it. He was wrong and was brutally humbled as a result. The Bible explains that God showed great patience with Samson and allowed him to escape tragedy many times. Though Samson continued to tempt the Lord, putting himself in danger with the Philistines, God responded in mercy, providing Samson the opportunity to repent and serve the Lord according to his calling. He failed to do so and sought to continue in sin, assuming that God’s grace would abound.
The Bible shows that while God is merciful and gracious, the Lord has a threshold of patience at which point He will allow people to suffer the brutal consequences of their sin. When God’s people are insistent on playing with fire, God’s grace will only go so far until He allows them to get burned. Yet still, God still shows restraint and mercy in His discipline. Though He allows His people to occasionally get “burned” on account of their sin, He does not let the fire fully destroy His people, thus compromising His faithfulness to fulfill His promises. While Samson suffered greatly, God did not let the suffering and humiliation of Samson affect His original purpose for Samson as a deliverer for Israel. God is sovereign and powerful enough to allow His people to suffer the consequence of sin while also accomplishing His purpose through those people. Hence, the sins and wickedness of God’s people cannot affect the perfect goodness of God, thus magnifying the holy nature of God compared to the wickedness of humanity.
In Judges 16:18-22 the Bible explains that the arrogance of Samson caught up with him. Samson had carnal desires for a Philistine woman named Delilah. He figured that since God had equipped him with great strength, he could put himself in harms way in order to appease the desires of his flesh, leveraging the strength of God to keep him safe. He figured that since God had protected him before and gave victories in the past, God would continue to do so in the future regardless of his conduct. Delilah, being bribed by the Philistines that sought to destroy Samson, sought to discover the source of Samson’s strength in order to share that information with the Philistines in order that they could take advantage of him and take him down. After pressing him to the point of vexation, Samson finally gave into Delilah and confessed that the source of his strength was in his hair – the symbol of his Nazarite vow and identity in the Lord. Therefore, Delilah made arrangements with the Philistines to entrap Samson and destroy him.
The Bible explains that Delilah lulled Samson to sleep and then secretly called for a man to cut the hair of Samson. After Samson’s hair was cut, the rest of the Philistine people ambushed Samson. Samson responded in arrogance. The Bible states that Samson said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” Samson figured that because God had delivered him from self-inflicted threats in the past, God’s mercy and grace would continue to be manifest in the same ways. Samson figured he could continue to live according to his wickedness and get away with it because God appointed him for a special purpose. However, Judges 16:18-22 explains that Samson didn’t know that the Lord had departed from him.
One must consider that God departed from Samson because Samson departed from God. While many have traditionally focused on Samson’s hair as the focus of this testimony, God did not depart from Samson because of hair. Rather, as Samson revealed the essence of his Nazarite vow while knowing the intents of Delilah and the Philistines, Samson revealed that his desire for Delilah was greater than his desire for the Lord. In the same way that Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of soup, Samson traded his identity in the Lord for a relationship with a wicked woman. Esau despised his birthright just as Samson despised his calling as a Nazarite. Samson figured that God would always protect him in ways that were convenient to him regardless of where his heart was. Yet the Bible explains that as God departed from Samson, the strength of the Lord that filled Samson left also.
Samson was captured and placed in prison as a grinder. The Bible explains that the Philistines sought to mock and humiliate Samson by plucking his eyes out. Thus, Judges 16:18-22 explains that God allowed Samson – His anointed deliverer – to suffer this great tragedy. Though Samson was selected by God and appointed to an awesome purpose as God’s instrument of righteousness, Samson was controlled by the desires of his flesh that ultimately separated him from God. Samson did not seek to please the Lord according to his calling. Samson sought to please himself. Samson put himself in harmful circumstances because of his desires so that the tragedy he suffered was simply the consequence of his wicked heart. Had Samson live according to God’s commands, Samson would not have been dealing with the Philistines in the manner that he was, and thus, would not have been in a position to have his hair cut, his outward identification in the Lord removed, and his eyes removed.
Though the testimony of Samson is tragic, Samson brought such tragedy upon himself by living according to his own standards, which were against the righteous standards of God. The Bible clearly shows that when people continue to pursue the affections of their own hearts that are contrary to God, He will eventually give people over to those affections and the consequences that come with them. Since wicked hearts motivate those consequences, those consequences ALWAYS result in tragedy. Thus, tragedy is the result of people rejecting the righteousness of God, tempting Him by living lives in arrogance and self-righteousness. Samson was given a number of opportunities to repent from his sin in order to serve God in the appropriate manner but was blinded by his arrogance, and then eventually, literally blinded and shamed. Nevertheless, the wickedness and stubbornness of Samson was not greater than the power of God to fulfill His promises through Samson. God’s mercy is so great that He would still be able and willing to use Samson in the way that He originally intended; only Samson would be a different kind of hero that suffered unnecessarily on account of his own fault.
There are often times people that blame God for the consequences of their own poor decisions. There are many people that tempt the Lord, suffer the consequences for such, and then become angry, depressed, frustrated, and bitter about the fruit of their sinful labor. One cannot blame God. The Bible teaches that God does not tempt people and so is blameless when one falls into temptation. Instead, the Bible teaches that God always provides a way of escape from all temptation. Thus, one cannot blame God when one fails to respond to the deliverance and wisdom that God provides through His Word. The Bible is candid to reveal that God’s people often fall into these traps, and while some might blame God for the difficulties, one should actually praise God for the mercy He shows while one selects to fall into sin to appease one’s flesh.
This truth is powerfully demonstrated through the testimony of Samson. Samson had a hard time succumbing to the desires of His flesh. While the Angel of the Lord visited Samson’s mother, commanding that he should be separated unto the Lord for His holy purposes as a Nazarite, Samson did not live as one separated unto the Lord. In Judges 16:1-17 the Bible testifies that Samson often fell into the temptations of his flesh, arrogantly assuming that God would continually bail him out of the difficulties that his decisions brought upon him. First, the Bible explains that after the Philistines killed Samson’s wife, Samson went back into the land of the Philistines to gratify his flesh. The Bible explains that Samson visited a prostitute in Gaza and engaged in a relationship with her there. Upon hearing that Samson was in the area, the Philistines in the area plotted to ambush Samson to destroy him. The fleshly desires of Samson not only led him to commit fornication, but also brought him to the place of the enemy where his life was put in further danger.
One must recall that before Samson was born, the Angel of the Lord visited Samson’s mother to state that God had a special plan for Samson. God planned to use Samson as a tool of His own deliverance. God promised to deliver the children of Israel from the forty-year oppression of the Philistines, and was committed to using Samson as His tool to do so. Thus, God demanded that Samson’s parents keep him unshaven as a Nazarite, that is, one set apart for the holy purposes of God. While Samson was to be Israel’s deliverer as a holy man of God, he ventured into the land of the enemy seeking to have sexual relationships with their women. He befriended those that God called him to live apart from, and engaged with the enemy in ways that were wicked and against God’s will. When Samson went to Gaza, he also put his life at risk, thus compromising the original plan of God to use Samson as a deliverer. Samson tempted the Lord in that he caused the Lord to provide excess protection on account of Samson’s foolish decision making in order for God’s original plan to be fulfilled.
God showed mercy. Rather than judging Samson for putting his life in danger on account of the wicked desires he worked to gratify, God relented in His judgment in order that His original plan could be fulfilled. While the Philistines in Gaza surrounded the place where Samson was, waiting for him to kill him, Samson laid low until midnight and then removed the doors of the place where he was in order to escape. The Lord allowed Samson to keep his strength even though Samson was in sin. The Lord mercifully allowed Samson to utilize that strength to remove doors and gates from their place in order that he could escape safely. Even though Samson compromised the will of God in order to fulfill the wicked desires of his flesh, the Lord was faithful to Himself, allowing Samson to escape the people at Gaza.
Unfortunately, Judges 16:1-17 explains that Samson didn’t learn his lesson. Though he was able to escape from the people at Gaza, he continued in pride as if he could continue to escape danger on account of his own strength. Judges 16:1-17 explains that Samson went back into the region of the Philistines again and found a woman named Delilah. The Bible testifies that Samson fell in love with this Philistine woman through his identity as a Nazarite would have prohibited him from having relationships with the Philistines. The Bible explains that Samson only pursued those that God forbid. As the Philistines found out that Samson was seeing Delilah on a regular basis, they pursued her and bribed her to seduce Samson, hoping she would be able to get Samson to divulge where his great strength was coming from. The Philistines figured that if they knew the source of his strength, they could handicap him in that area and defeat him for good.
The scriptures state that Delilah attempted to pry this information from Samson three different times. Each time she asked Samson where his strength came from, she plainly explained that she wanted to know in order to know how he might be overtaken. Delilah didn’t hide her intentions. Nevertheless, having received the mercy of God so many times before, Samson figured that he would be able to escape any attack from the Philistines. Thus, though Delilah posed threats to his safety and his purpose, Samson continued to see her, figuring that he was in control of the situation. He desired to be with Delilah and recognized that God had delivered him in times past, so figured that he could continue in sin, assuming that grace would abound.
When Delilah would ask Samson about his strength, Samson would give fake answers. He first made up a lie that said certain types of ropes would be able to restrain him. When Delilah found this out, she told the Philistines that paid her, and they plotted to bind him then attack him. Samson broke the ropes and defeated the Philistines. God remained patient and merciful as Samson played this same game two other times. God allowed Samson to break the binds that they tried to place upon him, frustrating Delilah and the Philistines. Samson continued in pride as he sought to gratify his flesh, assuming that God would continue to bail him out. However, the enemy of God’s people was more persistent.
The Bible teaches that Delilah pestered Samson day and night about the source of his strength. She tried to give Samson a guilt trip by saying that his lies were mocking to her. She tried to give Samson a guilt trip by saying that he didn’t really love her. Though she continually proved that she had wicked intentions, the arrogance and fleshly lusts of Samson kept him blind and in harms way so that after enduring Delilah’s pestering, he finally gave in. The scriptures state that Samson was “vexed to death” so that he finally confessed that his hair was the secret to his strength. One must consider that Samson’s hair did not have any supernatural essence. Samson’s hair was the outward identification of Samson’s calling as a Nazarite. Samson’s hair was ultimately his identification as God’s tool of deliverance, which was what allowed Samson to possess the Lord’s strength. So long as Samson kept his hair, it was a sign that he was in agreement with God’s will and purpose for him as a Nazarite, as God’s tool of deliverance. Even though Samson failed and fell into the temptation of his flesh, his hair was a sign that Samson ultimately submitted to God’s purpose for his life. The removal of his hair would be a sign of Samson’s separation from God’s will and purpose, which would ultimately be representative of Samson’s separation from God, and also His strength.
Judges 16:1-17 shows that the enemy is persistent. The enemy is relentless. Thus, when one arrogantly places one’s self in the midst of the enemy as if one is equipped to endure temptation without compromising one’s purpose and provision in the Lord, one is playing a dangerous game. The Bible truly shows that God is merciful, but the testimony of Samson will reveal that God is also righteous and just. The Bible will show that Samson will ultimately suffer tragic consequence, but only because he continued to put himself in harmful positions, assuming that the grace of God had no end. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman church, “Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Certainly not!” While the grace of God is great, it is not without limits. God’s patience has a threshold and His sovereign control allows Him to permit consequence without affecting His plans and works according to His promises. The scriptures show that the people of God have no one to blame but self when difficulties arise on account of the relentless pursuits of the flesh, which enable the enemy to press on the will of God’s people. The people of God can learn a good lesson from Samson, that so long as one continues to pursue the flesh, one is also giving the enemy opportunity to destroy one’s purpose in the Lord. This is not God’s fault. This is self-inflicted. Praise God for His mercy in spite of this and His faithfulness to fulfill His promises in spite of the errors of His people.
The Bible provides an abundance of testimonies that illustrate the magnitude of God’s faithfulness, which is demonstrated through the conduit of mercy and grace. When God makes promises and/or declares His purpose regarding certain people or things, He is determined to see His Word through to fulfillment. God has never told a lie. God has never rescinded on any promise. God has never gone back on His Word. The purpose of God as declared by His Word has been solid and fulfilled since the beginning. This is important to understand since God is determined to use people and involve them in the fulfillment of His work and promises. People make mistakes. People are not normally faithful. People are often limited in their capacity to execute vision and fulfill promises. Thus, when one examines the actions of certain people, one must be careful to separate God’s tools from God’s hand. The tool is not the same as the hand, yet God is able to make use of it anyway. Though the tools that God uses are weak and corrupt in nature, God is able to make good use of them anyway and do as He proclaimed.
This truth is made abundantly clear through the testimony of Samson. Throughout the testimony of Samson, the scriptures show that he was a man of great faults. Though God ordained Samson for a special purpose to deliver Israel from the oppression of the Philistines, Samson was a man that had great struggles concerning his flesh, and the Bible is candid to reveal the faults of Israel’s hero. It is true that Samson had great power and strength from the Spirit of the Lord. Yet it is also true that Samson was very carnal and often governed by His flesh to do things that were contrary to the righteousness of God. Samson was to be known according to his Nazarite vow, not the darkness of his flesh. Samson was to be holy to a high degree according to the manner of his vow, but was often found doing things impulsively and recklessly, seldom considering the consequences of his actions. Nevertheless, God made use of Samson in the manner that He originally declared that He would despite Samson’s shortcomings.
In Judges 15:1-20 the Bible documents some more of Samson’s shortcomings, but also explains how God used Samson’s emotionally impulsive temperament to work according to His purposes as Deliverer. The scriptures state that Samson was angered about the bet that he had to pay up on to the thirty men that threatened his wife to get the answer to Samson’s riddle. Samson paid the debt, but killed thirty other men in order to do so, then left back to his hometown for some time, leaving his new wife behind in his anger. Judges 15:1-20 explains that after Samson cooled off, his flesh was fired up in a different way. Thus, Samson went back to his wife and sought to “visit her in her room.” Samson’s motivation was not to make up with his wife. Samson’s motivation was not to demonstrate the righteousness of God. Samson’s motivation was to appease the carnal desires of his flesh.
When Samson arrived at his wife’s home, he was met with disappointment. Samson’s wife’s father would not permit Samson to enter the room of his daughter. The man explained that he thought Samson was divorcing his daughter when Samson left in such anger, and so gave his daughter to another man – the best man in Samson’s wedding. Though no certificate of divorce was administered, Samson’s wife was given over to another man. This testimony shows the effects of what happens when people respond according to their own flawed understanding of circumstances. Samson responded in anger, giving opportunity for foolish men to come to improper conclusions, thus engaging in wicked practices, giving women over to person after person. Though these practices are documented in the Bible, they are not practices that God ordained. The Bible does not show that God was pleased with Samson’s outbursts of anger and carnal motivation. The Bible does not show that God was pleased with the marriage practices of the Philistines. These things were all contrary to God’s righteousness as proclaimed in the Law, and such is why God sought to address the issues. Though Samson would be used as the tool to administrate God’s judgment, Samson would also undergo difficulty on account of his actions and motives.
When Samson learned about the situation regarding his wife, he let anger consume him so that he sought to have vengeance against the people – not just his wife’s father, but all of the Philistines. Judges 15:1-20 explains that Samson gathered together three hundred foxes and tied lit torches to their tails, then set them loose in the fields and vineyards of the Philistines, setting everything on fire. Though one person mistreated Samson, he sought to exact vengeance on the whole city. The scriptures do not condone this sort of activity. The Bible teaches that, “Vengeance is mine says the Lord.” However, one must consider that God was actually executing His own judgment through the enflamed temperament of Samson. One cannot look at the temper of Samson as being greater than the sovereignty of God. God was leveraging the personality of Samson to do that which He set out to do in the beginning, which was deliver the children of Israel from the oppression of the Philistines.
The Bible also is not teaching that the end justifies the means. While Samson is considered to be a great hero in the end, one must consider the cost of his heroism. Samson responded in wrath and rage against an entire people group on account of a personal issue. The Bible does not permit the people of God to do so. Thus, while God used Samson’s anger to judge the Philistines, Samson also had to deal with the consequences of his actions at the same time. The scriptures explain that the Philistines sought to fight against Samson in response to the fires he started, but Samson was successful in killing many Philistines on his own with a great slaughter. God’s promise to deliver Israel was being fulfilled. God was using the personal instances of one man to affect greater benefit for the congregation of Israel. However, the scriptures do not state that Samson was excused for his fault just because he killed the enemy.
After Samson killed the Philistines that assembled against him, he essentially went into hiding. The Bible does not say that Samson boldly went home to enjoy his family. The Bible does not say that Samson was celebrated as a great hero for slaughtering the enemies of Israel. Rather, the Bible says that Samson went to live “in the cleft of the rock of Etam.” Samson was alone. He was separated from his family, living in the cleft of a rock. He no longer had his wife either since, when the Philistines assembled against Samson for starting the fires with the foxes, they took Samson’s wife and her father and burned them. Samson was isolated and without joy. As Samson sought to fulfill the carnal desires of his flesh, those desires simply led him to a place of separation and isolation.
Once again, the Philistines sought to get revenge against Samson. Since they could not get to Samson, they began to conduct raids on the people of Judah. The people of Judah inquired of the Philistines, asking why they were being further oppressed. The Philistines then answered the people of Judah, stating that they wanted Samson and would not stop until they had him. Therefore, the people of Judah assembled three thousand men to go get Samson from the cleft he was living in. The number of men assembled to detain Samson shows the respect the people had for the strength that God had ordained to Samson! When the people of Judah reached Samson, they told him that they were going to detail him and give him over to the Philistines. Samson did not rebel. He simply asked that the people of Judah spare his life. He agreed to be detained and allowed the men of Judah to tie new ropes around him to bind him. Samson knew he was wrong and did not fight against his own even though his own sought to give him over to the enemy. The fleshly motives of Samson led to Samson being sought out by the enemy and rejected by his own people.
When the men of Judah went to give Samson over to the Philistines, the scriptures explain that the Philistines began to mock Samson in their perception of victory. However, though God allowed Samson to suffer the consequences of his poor decisions and attitudes, God would not allow His ordained to be mocked and would be faithful to use Samson in the manner that He originally intended. The Bible testifies that the Spirit of the Lord went upon Samson again. He grew incredibly strong so that he was able to break the ropes that were biding him as if they were merely the ashes of ropes. Upon breaking free of his ties, Samson found the jawbone of a donkey and slaughtered a thousand men with it. Samson escaped the clutch of the enemy by the mercy and grace of God. God had originally purposed to use Samson as a tool of deliverance. His purpose was to slay the Philistines. While Samson put himself in terrible positions of compromise on account of his carnality, but God still made use of Samson to destroy the Philistines. God was faithful to His original plan, no matter the sins of His people. The sins of God’s people don’t affect God’s ability to do as He proclaims.
After Samson slaughtered the Philistines, Samson remained in isolation for some time. Again, God did not dismiss His carnality as if his work against the Philistines made up for his sin. God does not examine works in such a manner. God is not a respecter of persons so that He considers “the good” to outweigh “the bad.” Thus, Samson remained separated from his people for a time. Yet God remained faithful. While in isolation, Samson grew afraid of his circumstances. He grew thirsty while living in the cleft of the rock and did not have resources for water. Samson cried out to the Lord for help. Samson’s cry out to the Lord was not reflective of an ongoing intimate relationship that reflected Samson’s daily dependency on the Lord. Samson’s cry out to the Lord was not reflective of repentance. Samson’s cry out to the Lord was not even a spiritual inquiry. Samson simply knew that God was Creator and Master, and so sought Him to have his desire for water met. God showed mercy and grace again and miraculously provided water by splitting another rock. Thus, God provided for Samson despite his folly because His work with Samson was not yet complete. God was determined to finish the work that He set out to accomplish in Samson, which is a powerful testimony to the people of God concerning salvation. Judges 15:1-20 explains that Samson judged twenty years in Israel. This shows that, when God makes a promise to use His people and offer deliverance, God is faithful to do so no matter their sin. While God does not excuse sin and allows His people to suffer the consequences of sin, the sins of His people do not cripple God’s ability to fulfill His promises, and do not cause God to go back on His promises. He is faithful indeed!
The Bible teaches that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. This means that all of God’s work is good, regardless of how people perceive it at any given time. This also means that, though God’s work is good, God makes all circumstances ultimately result in “good” according to His will. This does not mean that all things that believers do are good. Thus, it becomes difficult to measure the value and merit of one’s efforts and works in this life. There are just too many factors to consider that mankind cannot know. First and foremost, one does not always know what God is doing. His ways are far above the ways of human beings. Second, the Bible teaches that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Human beings have a hard time understanding their own motives let alone the motives of others. Third, human beings have a tendency to examine things from a physical perspective rather than a spiritual perspective, causing many to determine something as “good” or “bad” based on a physical outcome that is examined immediately after certain circumstances transpire. All of these things are wrong.
This reality means that God’s people simply must have faith. The people of God cannot measure circumstances to determine something as ultimately good or bad since the Bible teaches that it will all result in good. Thus, the people of God would be wise to refrain from judging events and efforts in such a manner. Many have historically looked at common church activities such as outreaches, and looked at outward results to determine it as good, seldom considering the hearts of those involved since people are unqualified to do so. While such an instance might appear good, one must consider God’s eternal perspective and understand that it will ultimately result in good when God is complete with His work, regardless of human involvement or motive. In a similar manner, some have looked at difficult circumstances and determined them to be bad on account of the difficulty experienced. People generally consider tragedies and failures to be bad, while the Bible’s teaching about God’s providential sovereignty to make all things work for good does not change. God uses ALL things and circumstances to collectively work together to accomplish His will. Thus, the people of God should not look to the details of His work to try and classify them one way or another.
An example of this method of God’s work is seen through the testimony of Samson. While Samson was ordained before he was born to be a deliverer for Israel concerning the oppression of the Philistines, Samson had a lot of issues. God commanded Samson’s parents to keep him pure in order that he would live as a Nazarite. However, as Samson grew, his lifestyle did not resemble one that was appointed for holy purpose according to the righteous will of God. Samson was a man that was heavily governed by his flesh and this often got him in trouble. The scriptures do not show that Samson spoke with God often. Though the testimony of Samson shows that he was often filled with the Spirit of the Lord, he often chose to respond according to his flesh instead. Yet this does not mean that God’s hand was not in control of Samson’s life in order to accomplish the purpose that God originally set out.
In Judges 14:10-20 the Bible explains that Samson continued to make poor decisions that God ultimately used to produce good effects according to His original plans. The scriptures explain that Samson’s father took Samson to Timnah to take a Philistine woman as his wife. He stood there and was pleased by her. The scriptures explain that Samson gave a feast there, as was the custom of the people in that area. The Bible also explains that the people brought thirty “companions” to Samson for the feast. Here it is important to consider the details of scripture. Recall that Samson was in Timnah, to take on a Philistine wife. Samson was in the land of the Philistines and was practicing Philistine traditions. The thirty “companions” that were brought to Samson were Philistine men from the area, not childhood friends. Thus, one can see that the warning that God gave to the children of Israel before they crossed over the Jordan River was valid. God warned the children of Israel to utterly destroy the people lest they become influenced by pagan traditions and become acquainted with pagan practitioners, ultimately causing great spiritual harm. The testimony of Judges 14:10-20 explains that this is exactly what happened to Samson. He saw a Philistine woman and lusted for her. In order to satisfy the desires of his flesh, he was willing to practice the customs of the pagan Philistines, and was starting to become familiar and friendly with the Philistine people. This was against God’s original purpose for the children of Israel.
During the feast, Samson sought to engage the thirty companions in a riddle and place a wager. Samson wagered thirty articles of clothing and linen garments if they could answer his riddle correctly. If the men could figure out the riddle within seven days, Samson would give the men thirty articles of clothing and linen garments. If the men could not answer the riddle correctly in that time, they would have to give Samson thirty articles of clothing and linen garments. Samson’s riddle was about the lion that he had previously killed, but kept secret. Samson said, “Out of the eater came something to eat. And out of the strong came something sweet.” His riddle referred to his destruction of the lion as “the strong.” The lion that was traditionally “the eater” became the means by which Samson was able to eat. When Samson killed the lion, bees too residence inside the carcass of the lion and Samson ate honey (something sweet) from the lion. Since Samson did not tell anyone about this incident, not even his parents, this riddle had the men stumped.
The scriptures explain that the men spent three days trying to figure out the riddle and gave up for the next couple of days. Not wanting to pay on the bet that they made, the thirty cornered Samson’s wife and threatened her. They stated that if she would not get the answer to the riddle from Samson and tell them, they would burn her and her family. Clearly these men were not men of God, nor true “companions” of Samson’s family. Thus, Samson’s wife sought to get the answer out of her new husband. The Bible explains that she whined and cried until Samson relented. He was not willing to give her the answer at first, stating that he hadn’t even told his parents. Nevertheless, Samson’s wife complained, stating that Samson didn’t truly love her on account of the fact that he wouldn’t share this secret. Over time and pressure, Samson gave in and told her, at which point she went and told the thirty men. Samson’s wife never told Samson about the threats that she had received, but instead was deceitful and put her husband in a difficult position.
The thirty men then approached Samson on the seventh day before their deadline, and explained that the sweetness of the riddle referred to honey, and the strong was a reference to a lion. Samson knew that his wife had betrayed him and gave these men the answer to the riddle. Samson was greatly angered. The Bible testifies that, while filled with the Spirit of the Lord, Samson responded in the flesh and killed thirty other Philistine men, took their cloths, and paid his debt from the bet that way. Additionally, Samson was angered with his wife, and so he left her in Timnah and returned to his hometown. At that point, Samson’s wife left Samson and was given over to the best man in Samson’s wedding.
The Bible explains that Samson made several mistakes here that resulted in the deaths of thirty Philistine men, which weren’t even the men that made threats against Samson’s wife and family. While one might consider these circumstances to be tragic and awful, one must consider the total scope of God’s work. Recall that Samson was born with the purpose to deal with the oppression of the Philistines against Israel. While thirty men were killed that might seem to be “innocent,” their deaths were in line with God’s original will and purpose, even before the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River. This does not excuse Samson’s behavior and motives. Samson responded with a bad temper according to his flesh. This is not the acceptable conduct of one who has taken on the Nazarite vow, and is not acceptable conduct for a child of God. Nevertheless, Judges 14:10-20 explains that Samson was filled with the Spirit of the Lord, showing that the Lord was ultimately navigating Samson’s steps, making use of his wicked responses. While the Philistines were wicked, and Samson was carnal, God was involved, exercising His sovereign control to transform darkness into the reflection of His will and purpose according to His promises. Though the circumstances of Judges 14:10-20 show chaos, deception, and murder, when one considers the full scope of God’s work, one will find that the deaths of the Philistines and response of Samson’s wife was reflective of God working towards the judgment of the Philistines, working “all things together” for good, despite the failures of the people He uses.
The Bible takes great efforts to explain the extent of God’s sovereignty and the extent of His faithfulness to do exactly as He says. There are some who believe that the motives or actions of people can actually sway God from doing that which He proclaimed to do. This is untrue. There are some who believe that the extent of one’s sin affects God’s ability to fulfill His promises or respond according to His mercy and grace. This is also untrue. While God is just to judge those who continually deny Him, one’s sin cannot overpower the character of God. The perfect example of this truth is in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The wages of sin is death; and even though Jesus paid the total debt of sin, death could not overpower Him. Thus, the scriptures show that no matter how bad people are, God will always be faithful to do that which He has proclaimed and ordained. He will exercise His sovereign control over all things in order to ensure that His Word is fulfilled exactly as He proclaims, no matter how ugly things might seem to be concerning His people.
This truth is powerfully communicated through the Book of Judges. The Book of Judges documents 350 years of Israel’s history, exposing their rollercoaster faith. God gave the children of Israel the land of Canaan as He promised when Joshua was leading the people and the people rejoiced and enjoyed the rest that God had provided. However, soon after, the children of Israel forgot about the Lord, fell victim to the affections of their flesh, and sought after false gods and idols in place of God to appease their physical desires, dreams, and ambitions. After years of disciplinary action against His people, God delivered His people through various men and women that He ordained as judges and deliverers. While God was righteous to discipline the sins of His people, He was faithful to deliver them when His people desired forgiveness, and used men and women and tools of salvation to bring His people back into a quality of living that He deemed as good. Yet still, the Book of Judges explains that the people of God soon forgot about God’s deliverance, went back to idol worship, and were oppressed by foreign nations again, suffering from God’s discipline.
By the time the scriptures get to the testimony of Samson, this cycle had repeated itself several times, truly revealing the magnitude of God’s patience. No matter how many times Israel had fallen away from the Lord as a nation, God was willing to deliver them from their suffering while also judging the individuals that denied Him. Thus, God was able to continue towards the fulfillment of the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The testimony of Samson is a great illustration of God exercising His sovereign control to overpower the sins of His people in order to fulfill His Word and promises. While most people remember Samson as being a strong and powerful savior of Israel, conquering the Philistines to bring peace in Israel, the Bible is candid to show that Samson had some serious issues concerning His flesh. The testimony of Samson in Judges 14:1-9 provides three examples of Samson doing things that were directly opposite God’s righteous commands, yet God responding according to mercy and grace in order to ensure His will for Samson was fulfilled as He originally ordained and proclaimed.
First, the scriptures testify that Samson desired to have a wife that was a daughter of the Philistines. The Bible explains that Samson saw a woman in the region of Timnah and desired to take her as a wife, even to the extent that he demanded his father do the necessary things to ensure she became his wife. Samson was serious and was caught up in the lusts of his flesh. Unfortunately, the desires of Samson were against the Law of God. In Deuteronomy 7:2-3 the Bible explains that the children of Israel were to exterminate the native inhabitants of the Promised Land, which would have included the Philistines. They were not to leave any person alive, and God gave this command with specific purpose in mind. The scriptures explain that God did not want His people to have relationships with the native inhabitants of the land, like the Philistines. God knew that if the people were left alive, they would become friendly, marry each other, have children together, and the children of Israel would eventually adopt the very pagan practices that God was judging the native inhabitants of the land for practicing. God understood that bad company corrupts good morals, and that a little leaven, leavens the whole lump. Therefore, He commanded that His people abstain from taking foreign men and women in marriage in Deuteronomy 7:2-3. Nevertheless, Samson, being governed by the desires of his flesh rather than the commands of God, sought to take a Philistine woman as a wife; even denying his parents who advised against his desire.
Secondly, Judges 14:1-9 explains that Samson went down to Timnah to find his woman and take her for a wife and encountered trouble along the way. Though the parents of Samson sought to sway him from taking on a Philistine wife, Samson contended with his parents. His father Manoah finally gave in and accompanied Samson to Timnah to find the woman that Samson wanted as a wife. While Manoah was making arrangements on behalf of his son, the Bible explains that Samson came upon a lion to his surprise. The scriptures explain that the lion roared against him, showing aggressive behavior and sought to attack him. However, as the lion provoked a fight with Samson, the Bible states that, “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him.” Though the lion attacked Samson, the strength that the Holy Spirit provided through Samson was sufficient to destroy the lion. The Bible explains that Samson tore the lion up into pieces with his bear hands. Samson left the lion carcass there, and moved on with his day, keeping the event from his mother and father.
Lastly, Judges 14:1-9 states that Manoah was successful in his efforts to get the Philistine woman as a wife for Samson. The scriptures explain that Samson joined up with the woman and she pleased him well as a wife, though the marriage was against God’s law. After spending some time with his wife in Timnah, Samson made efforts to take her back home and came upon the lion carcass that he had previously left behind. The scriptures explain that he saw a swarm of bees that had taken residence in the carcass and were producing honey inside of it. Samson then took his hand, put it inside of the lion carcass and took some hone from it to eat, and also some for his parents to eat as well. Once again, the scriptures explain that Samson was governed by the desires of his flesh rather than the commands of the Lord. According to Leviticus 11:27, the children of Israel were not to touch the carcass of any animal such as a lion. It was considered unclean. Those who touched the carcass of such an animal were to be considered unclean for the day, but go through the ritual washing processes of purification in order to be considered clean again. Though Samson was ordained before his birth to live as a Nazarite, he took no consideration of God’s laws, commands, or statutes, and just continued to feed his flesh according to his desires. His actions were not only sinful concerning his own actions, but his fleshly desires caused his parents to be in positions of compromise as well. His father made efforts to arrange the marriage between Samson and the Philistine woman, and then Samson shared the honey from an unclean thing with his parents without telling them where it came from.
Despite these three issues, the Lord was exercising His sovereign control to assure that His will was fulfilled according to His previously proclaimed Word. Judges 14:1-9 explains that, though Samson sought to have a Philistine woman as a wife, God made use of his wicked fleshly desire to deliver the children of Israel from the Philistines. The scriptures state that, even though Manoah and his wife tried to talk Samson out of marrying the woman, they didn’t know that the Lord was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. God would leverage the wicked relationship of Samson to get him in position close enough to strike against the Philistines since God had appointed him to be his tool of deliverance. Then when the lion attacked, God intervened again. The Bible explains that God filled Samson with His Spirit to strengthen him against threats. Though the lion posed a threat to Samson, and ultimately God’s purpose for Samson as was communicated before his birth, God filled Samson with the Spirit to ensure that His will progressed forward as planned. Lastly, God showed great patience with Samson as he continued to put himself in harmful positions, or positions of spiritual compromise. When Samson touched the unclean thing and shared the unclean substance with his parents, God did not immediately judge him. Instead, God suffered long with Samson, enduring the foolishness and wickedness of Samson’s heart and desires. For every dumb thing that Samson did in sin, God was already prepared with a righteous response that would enable the fulfillment of His previously declared Word and promises. Hence the scriptures show that mankind cannot out-sin God’s mercy, grace, sovereign control, providence, or promises!