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Judges 13-16 “Great Strength, Great Weakness”

Feb 10 2020

Judges 13-16

“Great Strength, Great Weakness”

The chapters 13-16 of Judges are dedicated to one on the best-known stories in the book of Judges and one of the most paradoxical people in all the Bible, Samson. There are a few things about him that we commonly misunderstand. 

  1. Great Strength: The first has to do with his perceived strength and the belief that he had rippling muscles. When most folks think of Samson they think of a guy that looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger with rippling muscles but in reality according to the texts this guy didn’t draw any attention of strength by the way he looked. In fact, what we are told over and over is that his supernatural strength came as the result of the fact that the “Spirit of the Lord that came upon him”. This is further proved by the fact that neither Delilah, the Philistines nor the Israelites seemed to know what the source of his great strength was. I venture to say that if it was his bulging biceps and rippling muscles everyone would have known. 
  2. Great weakness: The 2nd misconception centers on his failures. The first verse of chapter 13 speaks of the oft repeated cycle of sin with Israel that “they again did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Yet compare Samson’s time with Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon and Jephthah and you will find that in their case they “cried out to the Lord” for deliverance. At no point during those 40 years of occupation did the nation ever “cry out” for deliverance. Neither is there any mention of the people of God forming an army to help Samson in his battle against the Philistines. This was one man’s war against oppression that the nation didn’t mind. In fact, Israel was quite prosperous during these 40 years of  Philistine occupation. Though they were among the earliest to learn how to smelt Iron they didn’t use their technology to militarily over run Israel instead they used two palatable weapons that were very effective in destroying the people; “trade and intermarriage”. Israel was being enslaved by spiritual and cultural seduction. It was Philistine assimilation combined with Hebrew apathy that led to God using Samson. Israel hadn’t repented and didn’t want a liberator, so God sent to an unrepentant nation a rugged individualist who instead of fighting national battles was fighting personal ones that had national implications. Samson always fought alone and was never one time joined by even one person in battle. Without minimizing our disgust at his personal failure, we must understand that that Samson alone resisted the dangers of Philistine occupation.

I mention this in reference to Samson not to magnify his strength or lesson his failures but to cause us to realize that life working through people is always far more complicated they what we read on the surface and it would do us well to treat people with a bit more civility and sympathy before we simple categorize them.        

This has been Pastor Dale, Blessings!