Week 14: Samson
Weekly memory verse:
Psalm 17:8 – “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”
Jesus, Lover of My Soul (free download)
How can you come to know God and what he has made?
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
Day 66: Jephthah
Reading: Judges 10:1–11:40
Chapter 11, Verse 15. Did not take away the land. God had commanded the people to take complete possession of the land (Lev. 15:23), but they did not, causing them all of their current problems.
Verse 29. Spirit. This is the special anointed of God for those he chose to lead his people.
Verse 30. Vow. This is another example of religious syncretism—the mixing of true religion with false. It was customary for pagan generals to make a vow to their god in return for military victory. The fact that Jephthah actually followed through and sacrificed his daughter further indicates his lack of faith in the true God and his promises.
God’s faithfulness, even in the midst of his people’s sin, is evidence of his mercy and love for his people. Yet he still chastens them, leaving them to suffer the consequences of their actions. The fact remains true, especially for God’s people, that obedience will bring blessing, but disobedience results in suffering.
- What did God mean by, “I will save you no more” (10:13)?
- Why did God raise up Jephthah to save the people even though they had forsaken him?
- What does Jephthah’s vow reveal about him?
Day 67: Samson’s Birth
Reading: Judges 13:1–14:20
Chapter 13, Verse 5. Nazarite. This comes from the Hebrew word that means “to separate.” Those taking this vow were set apart from the rest of the community in service to God.
Chapter 14, Verse 1. Philistines. It would have been strictly forbidden for any Jew, especially a Nazarite, to marry a Philistine woman.
The story of Samson is another prime example of God using someone to deliver his people who himself was not a worthy leader. Samson’s victories were clearly accomplished only by the power of God, and Samson often reaps the results of his sinful actions. God can, and often does, use sinful people to accomplish his good plans.
- Why was Samson set apart by the Nazarite vow?
- What significance was it that the flame of the altar and the angel of the Lord went up toward heaven (13:20)?
- Why shouldn’t Samson have married a Philistine woman?
Day 68: In the Shadow of Your Wings
Reading: Psalm 17
Verse 1, A Prayer. This is the first psalm simply titled “a prayer” (see also Pss 86, 90, 102, 142).
Verse 1. Just cause. David begins the psalm using metaphorical language from a law court to describe his plea before God.
Verse 8. Apple of your eye. This is a poetic expression that describes the pupil, a central and vital organ of vision. As one protects and values this organ, so God protects and values his people.
Our relationship to God as his people is one of just protection and care. God’s justice ensures that he will always do right, punishing sin and rewarding righteous behavior, but we may not necessarily see this happen in our present lives; often even the unrighteous enjoy God’s common grace, but we can be sure that from an eternal perspective, the wicked will be destroyed, and God will reward his people who are his greatest treasure.
- Why can we trust in God as our judge more than we can trust human judges?
- What is communicated by the request, “hide me in the shadow of your wings” (v 8)?
- Why do wicked people many times enjoy earthly benefits?
Day 69: Samson and the Philistines
Reading: Judges 15:1–20
Verse 8. Hip and thigh. This is an expression for violent slaughter.
Verse 14. Spirit of the Lord. This is an example of God’s special, non-salvific anointing of an individual to accomplish a specific purpose, and further illustrates that God is behind all of Samson’s strength and accomplishments in delivering the people from the Philistine oppression.
God continues to display his power and faithfulness to his promises by caring for his people, even using a vengeful, unrighteous man like Samson, and despite the fact that his own people didn’t trust in him. It is a wonder and a blessing that God’s faithfulness is not dependent upon any human response but is a direct reflection of his unchanging character.
- Was it right for Samson to burn the Philistine fields with the foxes?
- Why did the men of Judah bind Samson?
- Why did God anoint Samson with his Spirit?
Day 70: Samson’s Defeat
Reading: Judges 16:1–31
Verse 5. 1,1000 pieces of silver. Since each of the five rulers pledged this amount, it was quite a large sum of money.
Verse 20. The Lord had left him. This reveals that it was not his long hair that gave Samson his strength, but rather the special anointing of the Lord. Cutting his hair was simply the final act that caused God to remove his Spirit’s anointing power.
Verse 23. Dagon. This was an idol with the head of a fish and the body of a man.
Verse 28. Remember me. This prayer may indicate a heart of repentance.
Even though God used Samson to save his people, Samson’s disobedience, arrogance, and vengeful spirit ultimately led to his destruction. Just because God uses a disobedient person to accomplish a good purpose does not absolve that person from his sin. God still holds responsible those who sin against him.
- How did Samson’s sinful desire for wicked women lead to his defeat?
- How did Samson’s sin contribute to the Philistine’s false worship (see verse 24)?
- Do you think Samson was truly repentant at the end? Why or why not?