My Thoughts. . .
Monday, September 2, 2019
There is a chapter in the book of Hebrews that some refer to as “God’s Hall of Faith.” Regardless of which is your favorite translation, most begin that chapter with, “Now faith.” The writer defines it through illustrations. He begins with, “By faith Abel” (v.4). He continues saying the same about Enoch (v.5), Noah (v.7), Abraham (v. 8, 17), Isaac (v.20), Jacob (v. 21), Joseph (v.22), Moses (v.23), and “they” or Israel (v.29-30). He refers to “Sara” with “through faith also Sara” (v.11). When he arrives at verses 32-33 he writes,
“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, WHO THROUGH FAITH conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised” (Hebrews 11:32-33 NIV, Caps mine, RH).
Out of those 6 individuals named, which one doesn’t seem to fit? If you said, “Samson,” you are correct. His life is mentioned in Judges 13 through 16. He doesn’t seem to be someone that we would classify as faithful. Why? Here is what the book of Judges reveals.
1. Growing up, he is blessed by the Lord. He will have superhuman strength through his long hair. That part goes well. The rest of his life seems egotistical or narcissistic.
2. Most marriage contracts were not made by the two who are being married. Often such arrangements were made by the parents of two families, the parents of the future groom, and the parents of the bride to be. Samson tells his parents who he wants to marry. He believes this pagan girl “is the right one for me” (Judges 14:3).
3. An Israelite was to marry a good Jewish girl. But, that is not what Samson wants. He wants to marry a pagan woman and does so against his parent’s wishes. Yet, God uses the situation to His glory.
4. Samson gives a riddle to his 30 pagan groomsmen and they have a few days to figure it out. If they don’t, they owe Samson 30 changes of clothes and linen garments. If Samson loses, he owes the thirty men. They put his future wife up to finding out what the answer is. He finally tells her. They reveal the correct answer to him. Samson’s response is that they would not have known but they have been “Plowing with his heifer.” Today that description of the bride by the groom would cause the girl to call off the marriage!
5. Samson finds 30 different pagans and murders them to get their clothes and belongings to pay off his debt. The father of the bride believes Samson doesn’t want to marry his daughter since she has revealed his secret. He pledges her to another man. This angers Samson, he catches 300 foxes, ties them together in pairs, sets their tails on fire and releases them. Pagans lose their crops to these fiery animals. Today Samson would be jailed for being cruel to animals and being destructive of private property. He would also be sued by those property owners. When the pagans found out that Samson is responsible, they blame his future father-in-law and the girl and kill them. This enrages Samson who kills those who were responsible. The passage does not give the number killed.
6. The pagans put pressure on the tribe of Judah and 3,000 of them go and bind Samson and turn him over to them. Verse 13 tells us that “the Spirit of the Lord was upon him,” causing him to break the ropes binding him. He took up a donkey jawbone and slaughtered one thousand pagans.
7. Samson is recorded praying twice. After killing those pagans he was very thirsty and thought he would die. So he prayed asking if God was going to let him die of thirst. God gave him water. The second time is at the end of his life. He ask God to give him strength so he could avenge himself against his captors for putting out his eyes.
8. Samson apparently celebrates his victory by going into a prostitute. The pagans knew it and was planning on kill him at daylight. However, he arose early, found the city gate close, tore it off it’s hinges and left. Today he would be charged with destroying public property. He believed he had a right to do what he was doing due to the things that had happened to him.
9. He meets Delilah and falls in love with her. The Philistines wanted her to find out what made Samson so strong. She was finally successful after several false starts. They put out Samson’s eyes and made him work as a slave in the mill grinding. The pagans had a large gathering of just over three thousand for a banquet. They brought Samson out to taunt and ridicule him. They believed that their pagan gods had given them victory over Samson and delivered him into their hands.
10. Samson requested that he be tied to the two support pillars. At the proper time he was able to pull these out of their support status so the roof would kill him and the banquet crowd. We would refer to his decision as suicide. He was faithful in his twenty years as a judge of Israel. What was his faithfulness based upon?
Some believe God knew his heart and that it was good. However, there is no written evidence revealing this.
Some believe his prayers are a testimony of his great faith. Yet, his prayers are centered on thirst and getting revenge for losing his eye sight.
He is listed in Hebrews 11:32-33 along with other men of great faith. What was his faith action that caused the Hebrew writer to include him with the other five that are mentioned?
He was successful in killing 4,030+ pagans. The Philistines were idolatrous and God’s enemies. Would you define Samson’s actions as being “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10)?