Monthly Archives: January 2014

Judges 17 – MICAH’S IDOLATRY

Unknown

Judges 17 – MICAH’S IDOLATRY

 

A. Micah makes a shrine for idols.

 

1. (Judges 17:1-2) He returns a large amount of stolen silver to his mother.

 

Now there was a man from the mountains of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. And he said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you, and on which you put a curse, even saying it in my ears; here is the silver with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “May you beblessed by the LORD, my son!”

 

a. Now there was a man: Chapters 17 and 18 of Judges present to us a “case study” of the spiritual confusion and sin in Israel during the days of the Judges. These two chapters show us just how bad things were.

 

b. Whose name was Micah: Micah, from the tribe of Ephraim, stole 1,100 shekels of silver from his mother and then returned them. His mother blessed her son for being a thief and then changing his mind.

 

i. This account reveals a lot about the character of Micah, his mother, and the general spiritual state of Israel during this period.

 

ii. Judges 17:10 indicates that ten shekels a year was an adequate wage. Therefore, 1,100 shekels was a great fortune.

 

2. (Judges 17:3-4) Micah’s mother directs that some of the money be used to make an image to be used in worship.

 

So when he had returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, “I had wholly dedicated the silver from my hand to the LORD for my son, to make a carved image and a molded image; now therefore, I will return it to you.” Thus he returned the silver to his mother. Then his mother took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to the silversmith, and he made it into a carved image and a molded image; and they were in the house of Micah.

 

a. To make a carved image and a molded image: Some believe this was an image of a false god (such as Baal or Ashtoreth). Others believe that it was an image representing Yahweh. Either way, God strictly forbade this.

 

i. The gold calf that Aaron made was actually meant to represent Yahweh (Exodus 32:4-5). But this violated the second commandment:You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or 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 (Exodus 20:4-5).

 

b. He made it into a carved image and a molded image: By his fallen nature, man wants to make God into his image. Many religious people “carve” their own concept of God and assume that this is the God of the Bible. It takes effort to understand and accept the God of the Bible.

 

i. The sense of this passage is that Micah did all this easily. It wasn’t hard to have an idol made in Israel at that time. This shows how Israel’s society was bent towards idolatry.

 

3. (Judges 17:5) Micah establishes an elaborate worship.

 

The man Micah had a shrine, and made an ephod and household idols; and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.

 

a. Micah had a shrine: Micah first sets up a shrine – sort of a small temple, a place where others came to worship these idols.

 

b. And made an ephod: Micah imitated the worship at the true Tabernacle of God by making an ephod. This was a specific garment worn by priests of Israel.

 

c. And household idols: In addition to this first idol, Micah also made household idols- literally, terephim – gods that were worshipped in hopes of gaining prosperity and guidance.

 

d. He consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest: Finally, Micah established a priesthood among his sons. In each of these, Micah did everything he could to set up a rival religion in Israel.

 

i. All of this came from Micah and not from God. This was a completely man-originated and man-centered religion. Therefore the purpose of the shrine, the beautiful ephod, the attractive idols, and the established priesthood was to serve and please man, not God. This pattern of man-pleasing religion is common with many religions and churches today.

 

4. (Judges 17:6) A summarization of the spiritual state of Israel during the time of the Judges.

 

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

 

a. There was no king in Israel: There was, in fact, a king in Israel – Israel should have recognized God as King. But since Israel rejected God as King, they were without any good and effective leadership.

 

b. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes: Modern culture regards this as the ideal state of society. But the Bible and common sense tell us that this kind of moral, spiritual, and social anarchy brings nothing but destruction.

 

i. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death(Proverbs 14:12). When man follows his own instincts, his own inclinations, it leads to ruin. We need to follow God’s way, not our own.

 

B. Micah hires an unscrupulous Levite.

 

1. (Judges 17:7-8) An opportunistic Levite looking for a “position.”

 

Now there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah; he was a Levite, and was staying there. The man departed from the city of Bethlehem in Judah to stay wherever he could find a place. Then he came to the mountains of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, as he journeyed.

 

a. There was a young man from Bethlehem: This man, as a Levite, had cities to live in and a place established by God for him to minister. Instead, he wanted to do what was right in his own eyes and went about offering himself as a “priest for hire,” wherever he could find a place.

 

2. (Judges 17:9-11) Micah hires the Levite.

 

And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” So he said to him, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am on my way to find a place to stay.” Micah said to him, “Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me, and I will give you ten shekels of silver per year, a suit of clothes, and your sustenance.” So the Levite went in. Then the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man became like one of his sons to him.

 

a. Dwell with me, and be a father and a priest to me: Micah wanted this Levite to stay with him and work as a priest for him. He did this because he wanted to legitimize his personal shrine by having an officially recognized priest serving there. Deep down he knew that his idolatry was false and meaningless and he hoped that this would make it legitimate.

 

b. I will give you ten shekels of silver per year, a suit of clothes, and your sustenance: So, for ten shekels and a suit of clothes, the Levite hired himself out to the idolatry of Micah. The Levite was a perfect example of a hireling, someone who served God (or an idol) for what it could give him, instead of serving to glorify the LORD.

 

i. There are many different ways that hirelings get what they want. The monetary hireling is obvious, but there are also emotional hirelings who get into the ministry because of their insecurities and their need for approval.

 

c. Then the Levite was content to dwell with Micah: The arrangements seemed perfect to everyone and Micah felt he had gained a son.

 

3. (Judges 17:12-13) A false consecration and a false confidence.

 

So Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and lived in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!”

 

a. So Micah consecrated the Levite: Micah’s consecration meant nothing at all. He had no authority from God to declare a renegade Levite as set apart by God to the service of this idolatrous shrine.

 

i. In this tragic account, each person is guilty of terrible sin. But we could say that the Levite was more guilty than Micah was. We can say this because the Levite was at least supposed to know the Word of God.

 

b. Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since I have a Levite as priest!Micah’s confidence was just as false as his consecration. They were both based on superstition, not on God’s Word.

 

i. We can say Micah was utterly sincere – but totally wrong. Sincerity is nice, but gets you nowhere if it is not coupled with truth. A person who sincerely thinks they can swim across the Pacific Ocean will drown just as surely as the person who isn’t as sincere.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Judges 16 – SAMSON’S DISGRACE AND DEATH

Unknown

Judges 16 – SAMSON’S DISGRACE AND DEATH

A. Samson and Delilah.

1. (Judges 16:1-3) Samson and the harlot at Gaza.

Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her. When the Gazites were told, “Samson has come here!” they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, “In the morning, when it is daylight, we will kill him.” And Samson laylow till midnight; then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.

a. Saw a harlot there, and went in to her: Samson is in obvious sin here. This is a clear example of how a man so used of God can also sin and sin blatantly.

i. Samson wanted to be used by God, but he also yielded to the deceitfulness of sin. He kept the external features of his Nazirite vow zealously, while at the same time sinning blatantly with a prostitute.

ii. Samson did what we nearly all do when deceived by sin. He put his life into categories, and figured that some categories God cared about, and some He did not. Understanding that Jesus has claim over our entire life is a radical change of perspective.

b. Put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill: Despite his sin, God still gave Samson supernatural strength to escape from the Philistines. God did this because God’s purpose was bigger than Samson himself, and because God used Samson despite Samson’s sin, not because of it.

2. (Judges 16:4-5) Delilah agrees to betray Samson.

Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”

a. He loved a woman . . . whose name was Delilah: Samson falls in love again, and falls after a woman completely wrong for him. This will be another example of the pain and ruin that came into Samson’ life because he would not guard his heart.

b. Every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver: Delilah was also deeply in love. But she was in love with money, not Samson. 1,100 shekels made up more than 140 pounds of silver.

3. (Judges 16:6-9) Samson lies to Delilah about the source of his strength.

So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.” And Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them. Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.

4. (Judges 16:10-12) Samson lies to Delilah about the source of his strength a second time.

Then Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with.” So he said to her, “If they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” Therefore Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And men were lying in wait, staying in the room. But he broke them off his arms like a thread.

a. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with: It would seem that romantic attraction made Samson loose all sense. There was no good or rational reason way Samson would continue this relationship with Delilah or entertain her prying into the secret of his strength. Samson is a good example of how an ungodly relationship can warp thinking.

b. Delilah took new ropes and bound him: Samson allowed this bondage because he refused to escape the situation. Many today are in similar places of sin, compromise, and bondage – and refuse to escape the situation.

5. (Judges 16:13-15) Samson lies to Delilah about the source of his strength for the third time.

Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me what you may be bound with.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head into the web of the loom”; so she wove it tightly with the batten of the loom, and said to him, “The Philistines areupon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled out the batten and the web from the loom. Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.”

a. Tell me what you may be bound with: Delilah obviously cared nothing for Samson. His continued commitment to her is a remarkable testimony to the power of blind, irresponsible love.

6. (Judges 16:16-19) Samson finally betrays the source of his strength.

And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart, and said to her, “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.” So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand. Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him.

a. When she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart: Earlier Samson gave into the nagging of his Philistine wife (Judges 14:15-18). Now he yields to the nagging of Delilah. She certainly sinned by using such terrible manipulation, but Samson also sinned by yielding to that manipulation.

i. Her previous complaint that Samson’s love for her was empty was itself a hollow protest. Delilah had no love for him, and she expected Samson to destroy himself and his service for God to “prove” his love for her.

b. He told her all his heart: When Samson did this, it was a very sad scene. He had to know what was to come. He faced the choice between faithfulness to his God and continuing an ungodly relationship.

i. In this we see the strongest man in the world weak under the power of an ungodly relationship. Perhaps Samson figured that because he was strong in one are of his life, he was strong in all areas. In this he was desperately wrong.

c. Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees: No doubt, Delilah used sweet words to lull Samson to sleep. Her pretended love for Samson for the sake of money is deeply troubling.

d. Then she began to torment him: This was fitting. We might say that Delilah began tormenting Samson long before this.

e. And his strength left him: There was nothing magical in Samson’s hair. We might also say that Samson began breaking his Nazirite vow before this. Yet there came a time when Samson finally had to reckon with his rejection of God’s mercy.

B. Samson’s arrest and death.

1. (Judges 16:20) Samson is seized by the Philistines.

And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.

a. I will go out as before: Samson didn’t know things were different. He lived in compromise for so long that he thought it would never make a difference.

i. Is a tragic example of wasted potential and rejection of God’s warnings. Samson thought he could “get away” with sin. He misinterpreted the merciful delay of God’s judgment or correction as a sign that He really didn’t care. He therefore presumed on God’s mercy and continued on in his sin, making things far worse.

b. He did not know that the LORD had departed from him: Samson’s strength was not in his hair, it was in his relationship with God. He worked against that relationship to the point where God finally departed from him, in the sense that He no longer blessed Samson with supernatural strength.

2. (Judges 16:21-22) Samson’s Philistine imprisonment.

Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison. However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven.

a. Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes: It was fitting that Samson was first blinded in his imprisonment. He was attracted to ungodly relationships through his eyes. His failure to restrain this attraction to women brought him into bondage.

b. They bound him with bronze fetters: Samson didn’t humble himself in obedience before God – he insisted on the “freedom” of doing what he wanted to do. This left him with no freedom at all.

i. Sin has its wages, and this was Samson’s payday. His sin left him blind, in bondage, and a slave. Before Samson’s blindness, bondage, and slavery were only inward, but they eventually became evident outwardly.

c. The hair of his head began to grow again: God gave Samson hope in the midst of a dungeon. His hair began to return and we can suppose that his heart also began to return.

3. (Judges 16:23-25) Samson is mocked by his enemies.

Now the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice. And they said: “Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy!” When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said: “Our god has delivered into our hands our enemy, the destroyer of our land, And the one who multiplied our dead.” So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, “Call for Samson, that he may perform for us.” So they called for Samson from the prison, and he performed for them. And they stationed him between the pillars.

a. Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy! When Samson pursued his ungodly relationships he might have justified it to himself by thinking that the only harm was done to himself. Yet here we see that his disobedience led to giving glory to false gods. Samson became a trophy for worshippers of false gods.

b. When they people saw him, they praised their god: The message preached by the followers of Dagon was clear. They said, “Our god is stronger than the God of Israel, because we have conquered Samson.” Often the disobedience of God’s leaders leads others to deny God.

3. (Judges 16:26-31) Samson’s bittersweet death.

Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them.” Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there; about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed. Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life. And his brothers and all his father’s household came down and took him, and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel twenty years.

a. Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand: The Philistines continued their mocking of Samson. At this large demonstration, they used a boy to “guard” him.

i. This makes us think all the more that Samson was not a muscle bound man who was naturally strong. His strength was truly supernatural, not natural.

b. That I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines: Samson’s end was both bitter and sweet. God answered his last prayer, and he achieved his greatest victory against the Philistines at the cost of his own life.

i. In this Samson is a picture of the believer in disobedience. God used him, but he did not benefit from it. His life ended in personal tragedy, shadowed by the waste of great potential.

c. Let me die with the Philistines: This was suicide, but differed from suicide in the strict sense in that his purpose really wasn’t to kill himself, but to kill as many Philistines as he could. There is a sense in which Samson was like modern suicide-bombers.

i. Suicide is clearly sin, the sin of self-murder. Yet we are wrong if we regard it as the unforgivable sin. Most all who commit suicide have given in to the lies and deceptions of Satan, whose purpose is to kill and destroy (John 10:10).

d. And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it: This could only happen with God supernaturally empowering Samson. This shows that God never forsook Samson, even when he was disobedient. God’s mercies were there for Samson even in a Philistine prison. All Samson had to do was turn his heart back towards God and receive them.

i. We could say that Samson was restored with self-renunciation. This last great victory came only has he was broken, humiliated, and blind. He could no longer look to himself. Prior to this we don’t see Samson as a man of prayer, but here he prayed. He was humbled enough to allow a little boy to help him.

ii. In summary, Samson shows the danger of underestimating our own sinfulness. He probably figured he had things under control with his own fleshly lusts, but his desire for love, romance, and sex led directly to his destruction. Samson was the great conqueror who never allowed God to properly conquer him.

iii. Samson had to be deceived to keep going back to tempting and dangerous places. It seemed that just about every time he went to the land of the Philistines, he fell into moral compromise. He should have learned from this. Instead of putting himself in tempting situations, he should have fled from youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22) like Joseph did (Genesis 39:12). “Rather than break his relationship with Delilah, he allowed it to break him.” (Wolf)

iv. Samson also shows the danger of being a loner as a leader. Everything Samson did he did alone. He judged for 20 years and never sought or used help from others.

v. Most of all, Samson is a powerful picture of wasted potential. He could have been and should have been one of the greatest men of God in the Old Testament; but he wasted his potential.

 

 


 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Judges 15 – SAMSON TAKES ON THE PHILISTINES

Unknown

Judges 15 – SAMSON TAKES ON THE PHILISTINES

A. Retaliation back and forth.

1. (Judges 15:1-3) Samson’s rage at discovering that his wife is given to another.

After a while, in the time of wheat harvest, it happened that Samson visited his wife with a young goat. And he said, “Let me go in to my wife, into her room.” But her father would not permit him to go in. Her father said, “I really thought that you thoroughly hated her; therefore I gave her to your companion. Isnot her younger sister better than she? Please, take her instead.” And Samson said to them, “This time I shall be blameless regarding the Philistines if I harm them!”

a. I really thought that you thoroughly hated her: It’s hard to know why Samson’s father-in-law thought that Samson hated his wife. Perhaps this was just an excuse to explain why he did what he did; or perhaps Samson’s Philistine wife poisoned her father’s opinion of Samson (Judges 14:16).

b. Samson said to them: Even though Samson was angry with his wife’s father, the real root of the problem was the bad choices Samson made in love. He had no business allowing himself to fall in love with an ungodly, pagan woman.

i. No wonder Proverbs 4:23 tells us: Keep(literally, guard or protect) your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.Failure to guard our heart can result in great trouble.

c. This time I shall be blameless regarding the Philistines if I harm them! God used Samson’s ungodly anger for His purposes. As Psalms 76:10 says,Surely the wrath of man shall praise You. This doesn’t justify Samson’s anger, but it shows the glory and power of God to use all things to His purposes.

2. (Judges 15:4-5) Samson strikes out against the Philistines by burning their crops.

Then Samson went and caught three hundred foxes; and he took torches, turned the foxes tail to tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. When he had set the torches on fire, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines, and burned up both the shocks and the standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves.

a. Samson went and caught three hundred foxes: Samson seems to act like a juvenile delinquent. Yet God used it all for His purpose of fighting against the Philistines.

b. Put a torch between each pair of tails: Some object that Samson could not have captured 300 foxes. Yet the word translated foxes probably refers to a jackal, not a fox, and jackals are known to run in large packs, sometimes up to 200. Second, there is nothing that says Samson did this all by himself. Third, there is nothing that says he did it all in one day.

3. (Judges 15:6-7) The Philistines retaliate by killing Samson’s wife and family.

Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?” And they answered, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” So the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire. Samson said to them, “Since you would do a thing like this, I will surely take revenge on you, and after that I will cease.”

a. So the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire: God was used all this to advance His plan for Israel and redemption. Yet because of Samson’s disobedience, it all happened at great personal cost to Samson. It is fair to suppose that if Samson were obedient, God would have furthered His plan in a way that blessedSamson.

b. I will surely take revenge on you, and after that I will cease: We have here the bitter story of retaliation – of trying to avenge wrongs done to us. Retaliation is a never-ending story, and one that never wins in the end. Those who trust in God must be able to say, “Retaliation belongs to God. I’ll let Him settle the score.”

i. Much of the war, disaster, deep-seated hatred, and pain in our world come from this instinct to retaliate. But Jesus told us to not retaliate an eye for an eye, but to take control of the situation by giving even more (Matthew 5:38-42). When we do this, we act like God, who did not retaliate against man for his sin and rebellion, but instead gave His only Son to die for man.

4. (Judges 15:8) Samson repays the Philistines for the murder of his wife.

So he attacked them hip and thigh with a great slaughter; then he went down and dwelt in the cleft of the rock of Etam.

a. Hip and thigh is an expression for a cruel, unsparing slaughter. Samson was a one-man army against the Philistines.

b. Dwelt in the cleft of the rock of Etam: Samson has no more family and can trust virtually no one. He lives like a fugitive, alone in a cave.

B. Samson slays one thousand Philistines.

1. (Judges 15:9-13) Judah surrenders Samson to the Philistines.

Now the Philistines went up, encamped in Judah, and deployed themselves against Lehi. And the men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?” So they answered, “We have come up to arrest Samson, to do to him as he has done to us.” Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? What is this you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so I have done to them.” But they said to him, “We have come down to arrest you, that we may deliver you into the hand of the Philistines.” Then Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not kill me yourselves.” So they spoke to him, saying, “No, but we will tie you securely and deliver you into their hand; but we will surely not kill you.” And they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.

a. We have come up to arrest Samson, to do to him as he has done to us: The fact that soldiers from the tribe of Judah will give up Samson to the Philistines shows just how much they are under the oppression of the Philistines. They would rather please their oppressors than support their deliverer.

b. Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? Samson didn’t want to hear this or recognize it. As far as he was concerned, the Philistines should not rule over the people of God.

c. They bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock: It seems that Samson submitted to this. Assuming this is true, it shows great faith on Samson’ part. He was willing to put himself in a difficult position and to trust God to take care of him.

2. (Judges 15:14-17) Samson uses the jawbone of a donkey to kill a thousand Philistines.

When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it. Then Samson said: “With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!” And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi.

a. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it: Samson was unique among the judges because he was used as a “one-man army” against the Philistines. Other Judges of Israel led armies to against their enemies, but Samson fought alone.

b. With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps: Samson’s bold declaration of victory has a poetic touch that is difficult to render in translation. One effort goes like this: “With the jawbone of an ass I have piled them in a mass!”

c. And called that place Ramath Lehi: This name essentially means “Jawbone Hill.” It was an obviously appropriate name for this place of Samson’s great victory.

i. One preacher came up with a five point sermon on the jawbone of an ass, likening it to the weapon of the gospel:

· It was a novel weapon

· It was a most convenient weapon

· It was a simple weapon

· It was a ridiculous weapon

· It was a successful weapon

3. (Judges 15:18-20) God provides for Samson miraculously.

Then he became very thirsty; so he cried out to the LORD and said, “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant; and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?” So God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore he called its name En Hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day. And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.

a. Then he became very thirsty: Samson needed this thirst to remind himself of his own weakness and need right after such a great victory. After a great victory we need to remember our mortality.

i. Matthew Poole comments on Samson’s great thirst: it was “partly sent by God, that by the experience of his own impotency he might be forced to ascribe the victory to God only, and not to himself.”

b. God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived: This is an example of the principle that God’s work, done God’s way, will always be provided for by God. Here the LORD showed His faithfulness to Samson by supplying the needs of His servant.

 

 


 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Judges 14 – SAMSON’S FIRST FAILED MARRIAGE

Unknown

Judges 14 – SAMSON’S FIRST FAILED MARRIAGE

A. Samson seeks a Philistine wife.

1. (Judges 14:1-3) Samson demands a Philistine wife.

Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” Then his father and mother said to him,“Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.”

a. Saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines: This seems to be a case of “love at first sight” for Samson. He saw this woman and he instantly wanted to marry her.

i. She pleases me well is literally, “she is right in my eyes.” What Samson really cared about was how things looked to himself, not how they looked to the LORD.

i. “Love at first sight” is a powerful, but dangerous thing. It is entirely possible for us to fall in love with someone that we have no business falling in love with – which was exactly the case with Samson here. As well, “love at first sight” feels wonderful, but doesn’t last in its initial form forever. We can be attracted more to the feeling of love itself than the person we focus upon – whom we don’t really know at first sight.

b. Samson said to his father, “Ger her for me, for she pleases me well”: In demanding a Philistine wife, Samson showed a sinful disregard for his parents and for God’s will (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). Bound by romantic feelings, there are many people who still “demand” of God a mate out of God’s will.

i. The command to the Israelis to not intermarry with the pagan nations around them applies to the Christian today in that a Christian must not marry someone who is not a Christian, joining themselves together with an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14).

ii. It isn’t because those who are not Christians are not lovable – they are sometimes more lovable than believers. It is not because they aren’t good enough, or worthy of our love. It is simply because to be a Christian means Jesus Christ is the most important thing in your life; and when a Christian and a non-Christian get together, you have two people who disagree on the most important things in life.

iii. By extension, a Christian really has no business dating a non-Christian. Those who do run a serious risk of falling in love with someone they have no business falling in love with. In fact, the whole philosophy of dating needs to be re-examined by Christians. It often teaches people more about how to break up and how to endure the pain of a broken heart than it teaches about building a lasting, enduring relationship.

iv. Additionally, a Christian is advised to carefully discern the Christian commitment of the one they are interested in. There have been many pretended conversions, calculated to merely entice a Christian to marriage.

v. If someone goes against God’s plan and marries an unbeliever or if someone becomes a Christian before their spouse, there are specific commands applying to their situation. The Apostle Paul clearly wrote that this one must do all that is possible to stay in the marriage, and be the best spouse they can be (1 Corinthians 7:10-16).

vi. God did use Samson mightily; but God used Samson despite his sin, not because of it. It is fair to suppose that God may have used Samson in a far greater way if he made himself a clean vessel according to the principle of2 Timothy 2:20-21.

2. (Judges 14:4) God’s will behind the scenes of Samson’s desire to marry a Philistine woman.

But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.

a. His father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD: As the rest of the chapter shows, some good ultimately came out of this ungodly marriage. Many Philistines were killed and they were kept off balance in their attempts to dominate the Israelites.

i. However, none of that justified Samson’s actions. Though God can make even the evil of man to serve His purposes, it never justifies the evil that man does.

b. He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines: In accomplishing this purpose, God did not make a reluctant Samson pursue the Philistine woman for marriage. God allowed Samson to do what he wanted to do, though the act itself was sinful. God allowed it for reasons in both Samson’s life and for reasons on a larger scale.

i. Someone today might justify their desire to marry a non-Christian because they trust some good will come out of it – such as their non-Christian partner eventually coming to Jesus. Things may work out that way, but even though God used Samson’s marriage to a Philistine woman, it all came at a great personal cost to Samson.

ii. No matter how much good God can bring out of even the bad things we do, He can always bring far more good out of our obedience – and we ourselves experience much less pain.

3. (Judges 14:5-9) Samson slays a lion and eats some wild honey.

So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion.

a. He came to the vineyards of Timnah: Samson was dedicated to God with a lifelong vow of a Nazirite (Judges 13:4-5). Nazirites were to have nothing to do with grape products in any form (Numbers 6:3-4). Samson walked on dangerous ground here.

b. He tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat: Though Samson flirted with compromise – both with his impending marriage and the vineyards of Timnah – he still had miraculous strength because the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him.

i. The Holy Spirit of God wants to come upon us and give us power but power for something far more important than ripping apart lions. The Holy Spirit comes upon us for the empowering to live for God as we should and for the power to tell others about Jesus effectively.

c. She pleased Samson well: This does not mean that she was a good woman for Samson to be attracted to or to marry. It is possible to fall in love with someone who is actually very wrong for us. This is why Proverbs 4:23 says: Keep (literally, guard orprotect) your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. If we don’t guard our hearts, we can end up in trouble.

i. If we find that we are already in love with a wrong person, the only thing to do is to give them up, because it is right before God. Jesus told us that following Him would require that we give up the things we love most (Mark 10:29-30).

d. He took some of it in his hands and went along: When Samson gathered honey from the dead carcass of a lion, he expressly violated his Nazirite vow, which stipulated that a Nazirite should never touch a dead body (Numbers 6:6-7).

i. Significantly, Samson did this after he was remarkably filled with the Holy Spirit. This shows that an outpouring of the Holy Spirit does not automatically make you godlier. It gives you the resources to be godlier, but it doesn’t “do it to you.” A person can be wonderfully gifted by the Holy Spirit and yet very spiritually immature.

e. He did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion: Samson did not tell his parents where he got the honey because he knew it was a compromise of his Nazirite vow.

i. Samson had consecration (at least the appearance of it) without communion. This was only good for the sake of image. The empty nature of his consecration will eventually be evident.

B. The feast and the riddle.

1. (Judges 14:10-11) Samson hosts a “bachelor party” for Philistine friends.

So his father went down to the woman. And Samson gave a feast there, for young men used to do so. And it happened, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.

a. Samson gave a feast there: Literally, this was a drinking feast. If Samson didn’t break his Nazirite vow by partaking in the wine, he certainly put himself in a situation where it would be easy to do so.

2. (Judges 14:12-14) Samson poses a riddle concerning the lion and the honey.

Then Samson said to them, “Let me pose a riddle to you. If you can correctly solve and explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing. But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing.” And they said to him, “Pose your riddle, that we may hear it.” So he said to them: “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.” Now for three days they could not explain the riddle.

a. Changes of clothing: This literally describes a fine suit of clothes you would wear to an important occasion. Therefore 30 fine suits were wagered. Like most betting, this “friendly wager” would turn into something not quite friendly.

b. Out of the eater came something to eat: This was a clever riddle, and Samson shows that even if was weak morally he was not weak intellectually.

3. (Judges 14:15-18) Samson’s Philistine wife extracts the answer to the riddle from Samson and tells it to the Philistines.

But it came to pass on the seventh day that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, that he may explain the riddle to us, or else we will burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us in order to take what is ours? Is that not so?” Then Samson’s wife wept on him, and said, “You only hate me! You do not love me! You have posed a riddle to the sons of my people, but you have not explained it to me.” And he said to her, “Look, I have not explainedit to my father or my mother; so should I explain it to you?” Now she had wept on him the seven days while their feast lasted. And it happened on the seventh day that he told her, because she pressed him so much. Then she explained the riddle to the sons of her people. So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down: “What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?” And he said to them: “If you had not plowed with my heifer, You would not have solved my riddle!”

a. Then Samson’s wife wept on him, and said, “You only hate me! You do not love me! Samson’s Philistine wife knew how to manipulate the situation and how to make herself a burden to her husband until she got what she wanted from him.

i. Some wives will make themselves a burden to their husbands until they get what they want. This tactic is used because it often works in the short term. But it can poison the relationship and ends up costing more than it gains.

b. He told her, because she pressed him so much: A woman easily manipulated the world’s strongest man. This weakness of Samson will later be the cause of his downfall.

i. The willingness of Samson’s Philistine wife to side with her people against Samson shows a fundamental weakness in their marriage. She did not fulfill the idea essential to marriage of leaving one’s father and mother to be joined in a one flesh relationship to their spouse (Genesis 2:24Matthew 19:5). Yet this also shows why it was wrong for Samson to marry a Philistine. We cannot expect someone who does not love the God of Israel to build a marriage on God’s principles.

ii. However, we see that the reason Samson’s wife cooperated against her husband was also somewhat complicated. She acted out of fear because of their threat (else we will burn you and your father’s house with fire). If she told Samson about the threats, he could have more than handled the situation. She apparently did not feel safe with Samson, but he was her best safety.

c. If you had not plowed with my heifer, You would not have solved my riddle: Samson’s use of this proverb shows the anger and bitterness he felt at being manipulated. Samson’s wife “won” what she wanted through manipulation, but she lost her husband’s heart.

i. When a man gives in to his wife’s manipulations so as to keep peace, it almost always builds anger and resentment in the man – and guilt in the woman for what she did. The way of manipulation is tempting (because it works), but always brings real destruction.

4. (Judges 14:19-20) Samson’s anger and revenge.

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house. And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.

a. Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily: The Spirit of the LORD did not come upon Samson to avenge the hurt feelings of a husband. God’s strategy was larger: He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines (Judges 14:4). Therefore He used this occasion to pour out His Spirit on Samson to fight against the Philistines.

b. Killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle: Samson paid off the bet, but he did it at the expense of the Philistines. He killed thirty of these enemies of Israel, and gave their garments to satisfy the debt.

c. Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man: Samson won the battle, but lost the war. His wife left him and went to his best man. It is interesting to think what Samson and his wife might say if they went in for marriage counseling.

i. What Samson might say to a marriage counselor: I love my wife, but it seems that we are not moving in the same direction. All I hear is nag, nag, nag; I finally do what she nags me to do, but by then I’m angry and the situation is worse than ever. I need to feel that she supports me, and that she’s on my side. I think she wants to give up on the marriage, if she hasn’t already.

ii. What Samson’s wife might say to a marriage counselor: My husband is a good guy, but he does not meeting my needs. It was love at first sight for us, but now things have gone downhill. There are things I need him to do and to be that he just can’t, or won’t. He doesn’t respond to my needs and then we just get into a big fight, and no one is happy. I wonder if he loves me anymore.

iii. Samson was at fault for not guarding his heart against falling in love with a woman he had no business falling in love with. He was at fault for not founding the marriage on God’s principles. He was also at fault for not responding to his wife’s manipulations with love, free from anger.

iv. At the same time, Samson’s wife was at fault for siding with others against her husband. She was at fault for not telling her husband what the real problem was. And she was at fault for manipulating her husband by being such a bother until she got her way. Most of all, she was at fault for giving up on the marriage. Samson didn’t leave her; she left him. No matter what the problems in a relationship, what God commands us most of all is to not give up on the marriage.

 

 


 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Judges 13 – THE BIRTH OF SAMSON

Unknown

Judges 13 – THE BIRTH OF SAMSON

 

A. The Angel of the LORD announces the birth of Samson to Manoah’s wife.

 

1. (Judges 13:1) Life in Israel at the time of Samson’s birth.

 

Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.

 

a. Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: The cycle of sin, bondage, repentance, deliverance, blessing, and sin again continued in the history of Israel. Into these times was born the next judge of Israel, Samson. In this sense Samson was truly a man from his times. He was a study in contrasts, a man of great strengths and great weaknesses. In this, he was a picture of Israel’s history – of great highs and lows.

 

i. Samson is also an important example of unfulfilled potential. Though he did great things for God, it is staggering to consider what hemight have done and been for God.

 

b. And the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines: Because of Israel’s sin and rebellion, God again gained their attention by bring them into subjugation to the Philistines.

 

2. (Judges 13:2-3) The Angel of the LORD appears to Manoah’s wife.

 

Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.

 

a. A certain man from Zorah: The town of Zorah is about 14 miles west of Jerusalem. It was in the land of the tribe of Dan.

 

b. And the Angel of the LORD appeared: From the rest of the chapter, we see that we should regard this Angel as no mere angel. As seen before in the Book of Judges (Judges 2:1-5 and Judges 6:11-24), this is Jesus on a special mission, appearing as a man before His incarnation in Bethlehem.

 

c. You are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son: This promise came as a great blessing to this woman burdened by childlessness.

 

3. (Judges 13:4-5) Special instructions regarding the child to come.

 

“Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similardrink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

 

a. He shall be a Nazirite to God: Numbers 6:1-21 describes the details of the vow of a Nazirite. When under the vow, people regarded themselves as specially devoted to God, leaving their hair uncut, drinking no wine and eating no grape products, and avoiding any kind of contact with anything dead.

 

b. From the womb: There was nothing particularly unusual about someone taking the vow of a Nazirite for a specific period of time. What was unusual in Samson’s case was that he was to live under the vow from birth – this was a lifetime vow.

 

c. Please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean: Manoah’s wife also had to share in the Nazirite vow during the time she carried Samson.

 

4. (Judges 13:6-7) Manoah’s wife reports the appearance of the Angel of the LORD to her husband.

 

So the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A Man of God came to me, and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome; but I did not ask Him where He was from, and He did not tell me His name. And He said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now drink no wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’“

 

B. The Angel of the LORD announces the birth of Samson to Manoah.

 

1. (Judges 13:8-14) The Angel of the LORD reconfirms the words spoken before.

 

Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.” And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God came to the woman again as she was sitting in the field; but Manoah her husband was not with her. Then the woman ran in haste and told her husband, and said to him, “Look, the Man who came to me the other day has just now appeared to me!” So Manoah arose and followed his wife. When he came to the Man, he said to Him, “Are You the Man who spoke to this woman?” And He said, “I am.” Manoah said, “Now let Your words come to pass! What will be the boy’s rule of life, and his work?” So the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe.”

 

a. Please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born: Manoah already knew what God wanted him to do because the Angel of the LORD already told him. Here he asks for confirmation of the word previously spoken.

 

b. What will be the boy’s rule of life, and his work? God honored Manoah’s request for confirmation. But He did not answer this request to know the future. He simply called Manoah and his wife to obey what God already told them to do.

 

2. (Judges 13:15-18) Manoah offers the Angel of the LORD a meal; the Angel of the LORD will only accept an offering.

 

Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, “Please let us detain You, and we will prepare a young goat for You.” And the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Though you detain Me, I will not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the LORD.” (For Manoah did not know He was the Angel of the LORD.) Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, “What is Your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honor You?” And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?”

 

a. I will not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the LORD: Here, the Angel of the LORD shows Himself to be God, in the sense that He did not need a meal but will accept a sacrificial offering made unto the LORD.

 

b. Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful? Here the Angel of the LORD shows Himself to be Jesus, in taking the name wonderful (Isaiah 9:6).

 

3. (Judges 13:19-21) The Angel of the LORD displays His authority to Manoah and his wife.

 

So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on; it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar; the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. When the Angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the LORD.

 

a. He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on: The Angel of the LORD proved He was wonderful by doing a wondrous thing – ascending in the flame of sacrifice to heaven.

 

b. Then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the LORD: For the first time, Manoah and his wife understood that this Person was no mere man or messenger from God. They realized they spoke with God Himself.

 

4. (Judges 13:22-23) The reaction of Manoah and his wife.

 

And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have told us such things as these at this time.”

 

a. We shall surely die, because we have seen God! Manoah perhaps knew what God said to Moses in Exodus 33:20 : You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live. Manoah feared that because they just saw the LORD, they would shortly die.

 

b. If the LORD had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering: This is a perceptive response from Manoah’s wife. She understood that God had not done so much for them to abandon them now. God’s past work in our life is a promise of His future care and blessing for us.

 

i. Manoah’s wife was an invaluable source of encouragement for his faith. She didn’t criticize Manoah. She didn’t say, “What a silly man you are. What a stupid man you must be to be so frightened.” We can never strengthen someone’s faith by criticizing. We must do as Manoah’s wife did – encourage them and build faith up.

 

ii. An old preacher said that there is many a man who has had his head broken with his own rib. But there is many a man who has had his heart cured in the same way.

 

c. He would not have accepted a burnt offering: The basis of the faith of Manoah’s wife was that she knew that the LORD had accepted their offering to Him. If the LORDwanted to do you evil, He would have never accepted an offering on your behalf – the offering of Jesus on the cross.

 

5. (Judges 13:24-25) Samson born, and the Holy Spirit comes upon him.

 

So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

 

a. And the LORD blessed him . . . And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon Him: This is the source of the great strength we see in Samson later. We usually think of Samson as a man with huge, rippling muscles; but others couldn’t figure out why he was so strong. It is reasonable to think that he did not look very strong. It was the Spirit of God who made him strong.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Judges 12 – JEPHTHAH AND THE EPHRAIMITES THREE MINOR JUDGES

Unknown

Judges 12 – JEPHTHAH AND THE EPHRAIMITES THREE MINOR JUDGES

A. Jephthah and the Ephraimites conflict.

1. (Judges 12:1) The men of the tribe of Ephraim are angry with Jephthah.

Then the men of Ephraim gathered together, crossed over toward Zaphon, and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the people of Ammon, and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house down on you with fire!”

a. Why did you cross over to fight against the people of Ammon, and did not call us to go with you? The tribe of Ephraim felt slighted by Jephthah, and were angry that they did not have a central and prestigious role in the victorious battle over the Ammonites.

i. There is a tendency within all of us to not want to do a job unless we receive credit. It is evident that the people of the tribe of Ephraim were more concerned with getting the credit than with seeing a job done. This seems to be a consistent problem with the people of the tribe of Ephraim; they gave a similar response to Gideon in 8:1.

ii. Being a real servant of Jesus Christ means that we serve without concern for credit, knowing that it is up to Jesus to give any reward.

b. We will burn your house down on you with fire!The people of Ephraim also backed up their anger with a threat. They threatened to burn down Jephthah’s house with him in it.

2. (Judges 12:2-3) Jephthah responds to the people of the tribe of Ephraim.

And Jephthah said to them, “My people and I were in a great struggle with the people of Ammon; and when I called you, you did not deliver me out of their hands. So when I saw that you would not deliver me, I took my life in my hands and crossed over against the people of Ammon; and the LORD delivered them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?”

a. The LORD delivered them into my hand: Jephthah’s idea is clear. God won a great victory through him when the Ephraimites stood by, though they had the opportunity to help. In this he pointed out the essentially unjust character of their complaint.

b. When I called you, you did not deliver me: The people of Ephraim come off here as chronic complainers. When they had a chance to step out boldly for God they did not do it. Yet when the work was done and God was glorified, they complained that they didn’t get to participate.

3. (Judges 12:4-6) The Gileadites (led by Jephthah) overwhelm the people of the tribe of Ephraim.

Now Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. And the men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because they said, “You Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites and among the Manassites.” The Gileadites seized the fords of the Jordan before the Ephraimites arrived. And when any Ephraimite who escaped said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” then they would say to him, “Then say, ‘Shibboleth’!” And he would say, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce itright. Then they would take him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. There fell at that time forty-two thousand Ephraimites.

a. The men of Gilead defeated Ephraim: Apparently the men of Ephraim were better at talking than fighting, because the men of Gilead seemed to conquer them easily.

b. Then they would say to him, “Then say, ‘Shibboleth’!” The word shibbolethmeans either “ear of grain” or “flowing stream.” With this word the people from the tribe of Ephraim were easily identified by their dialect. They had a hard time pronouncing the “h” in Shibboleth and said Sibboleth instead, therefore giving themselves away.

i. During World War II, the German soldiers sometimes identified Russian Jews by the way they pronounced the word for corn: “kookoorooza.” Their distinctive pronunciation revealed their ethnic background. So it was for these men of Ephraim.

ii. The term shibboleth therefore came into the English language as something which determines which side you are one. In modern English usage a shibboleth is the same as an “acid test.”

iii. Today, there are certain true shibboleths in a person’s vocabulary. In Judges 12:6, you could know something about a person by how they said Shibboleth. Today when someone talks about Jesus, you can listen to what they say and learn something about them. You can listen as they speak about the Bible, and you know something about them. It is also true that as much as our dialect gives us away, so does our everyday speech. Others should be able to tell that we are Christians by the way we talk.

4. (Judges 12:7) The remainder of Jephthah’s time as a judge.

And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in among the cities of Gilead.

B. Three minor judges.

1. (Judges 12:8-10) The judge Ibzan.

After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons. And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage, and brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons. He judged Israel seven years. Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.

2. (Judges 12:11-12) The judge Elon.

After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel. He judged Israel ten years. And Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.

3. (Judges 12:13-15) The judge Abdon.

After him, Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy young donkeys. He judged Israel eight years. Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mountains of the Amalekites.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Judges 11 – JEPHTHAH AND THE AMMONITES

Unknown

Judges 11 – JEPHTHAH AND THE AMMONITES

A. Jephthah negotiates with the Ammonites.

1. (Judges 11:1-3) Jephthah’s background before his rise to leadership.

Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but hewas the son of a harlot; and Gilead begot Jephthah. Gilead’s wife bore sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out, and said to him, “You shall have no inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.” Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and dwelt in the land of Tob; and worthless men banded together with Jephthah and went outraiding with him.

a. Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor: This brave and notable man in Israel had a clouded pedigree. His mother was a harlot, a common heathen prostitute.

b. Worthless men banded together with Jephthah and went out raiding with him: Jephthah wasn’t necessarily the leader of a band of criminals. Adam Clarke explains that the term worthless men doesn’t necessarily mean a bandit: “The word may, however, mean in this place poor persons, without property, and without employment.”

i. Jephthah and his band probably operated more in the manner of David and his men during the period described in 1 Samuel 25:4-8, protecting cities and settlements from marauders and receiving pay from those whom they helped.

2. (Judges 11:4-11) Jephthah assumes the leadership of Gilead.

It came to pass after a time that the people of Ammon made war against Israel. And so it was, when the people of Ammon made war against Israel, that the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. Then they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our commander, that we may fight against the people of Ammon.” So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me, and expel me from my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?” And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we have turned again to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the people of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the LORD delivers them to me, shall I be your head?” And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The LORD will be a witness between us, if we do not do according to your words.” Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the LORD in Mizpah.

a. The people of Ammon made war against Israel: The nation of Ammon, the Ammonites, lived to the south of Israel. They were a semi-nomadic group of people who descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot.

b. Come and be our commander, that we may fight against the people of Ammon: Because of the crisis of the Ammonites, the leaders of Gilead were desperate for an able leader, and they turned to Jephthah. They gave him the authority as head over Gilead.

3. (Judges 11:12-28) Jephthah negotiates with the king of the Ammonites.

Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon, saying, “What do you have against me, that you have come to fight against me in my land?” And the king of the people of Ammon answered the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land when they came up out of Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and to the Jordan. Now therefore, restore those lands peaceably.” So Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of the people of Ammon, and said to him, “Thus says Jephthah: ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the people of Ammon; for when Israel came up from Egypt, they walked through the wilderness as far as the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let me pass through your land.” But the king of Edom would not heed. And in like manner they sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained in Kadesh. And they went along through the wilderness and bypassed the land of Edom and the land of Moab, came to the east side of the land of Moab, and encamped on the other side of the Arnon. But they did not enter the border of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab. Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him, “Please let us pass through your land into our place.” But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. So Sihon gathered all his people together, encamped in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them. Thus Israel gained possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country. They took possession of all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan. And now the LORD God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel; should you then possess it? Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the LORD our God takes possession of before us, we will possess. And now, are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel? Did he ever fight against them? While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and its villages, in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities along the banks of the Arnon, for three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? Therefore I have not sinned against you, but you wronged me by fighting against me. May the LORD, the Judge, render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.’ “ However, the king of the people of Ammon did not heed the words which Jephthah sent him.

a. What do you have against me, that you have come to fight against me in my land? Jephthah asked a simple question: why are you in the land of Israel? The king of Ammon gave a simple reply: because it is really our land, and Israel took it from is unjustly.

b. Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the people of Ammon: Jephthah’s written response to the King of the Ammonites carefully explained why Israel had a right to the land that the Ammonites claimed was theirs.

i. Thus Israel gained possession of all the land of the Amorites, who inhabited that country: They Amorites conquered the Ammonites and took control of their land. When Israel defeated the Amorites in battle, they justly took the land of the Amorites – which also happened to be the previous land of the Ammonites. The war against the Amorites was prompted by the vicious Amorite war against Israeli civilians.

ii. And now the LORD God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel; should you then possess it? Since God gave this land to Israel, the Ammonites have no claim over it.

iii. Will you not possess whatever Chemosh your god gives you to possess? The Ammonite god Chemosh must show himself worthy to conquer the land of Israel. Since Israel held this land for three hundred years, it demonstrates that Chemosh was not greater than the God of Israel. This is an inherent challenge: “If your god is mighty enough to give you the land, then let him do it. Let us see who is stronger – Yahweh or Chemosh.”

iv. Jephthah did not see this battle as primarily between two armies, but between the God of Israel and the false god of Ammon. Jephthah showed true wisdom in seeing this as a spiritual battle first.

c. Chemosh your god: Chemosh was traditionally the god of the Moabites, not the Ammonites. But they may have worshipped each other’s gods, and they may also have considered Chemosh and Milcom to be the same god with different names.

B. Victory and a vow.

1. (Judges 11:29) Jephthah gathers troops and advances courageously on Ammon.

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed through Mizpah of Gilead; and from Mizpah of Gilead he advanced toward the people of Ammon.

a. Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah: This was the source of Jephthah’s courage. When we are beset by fears and anxieties, we need to fill our lives with Jesus and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

b. He advanced toward the people of Ammon: The filling of the Spirit makes usadvance. We go forward in the sense of spiritual progress and we go forward in the sense of confronting the enemies of God.

2. (Judges 11:30-31) Jephthah makes a rash vow, thinking it will help his cause before God.

And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”

a. Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: Though well intentioned, this was a foolish vow. Such vows can be attempts to get God “on our side.” It is far more important to be on God’s side than to try and persuade Him to be on your side.

i. Even a Spirit-filled man can do foolish things. The Holy Spirit does not overwhelm and control us, He guides us – and that guidance can be resisted or ignored at smaller or greater points.

b. Whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me . . . I will offer it up as a burnt offering: Jephthah did not have a human sacrifice in mind. This is indicated by the ancient Hebrew grammar: “The masculine gender could be translated ‘whatever comes out’ or ‘whoever comes out’ and ‘I will sacrifice it.’ “ (Wolf)

i. Commentator Adam Clarke agreed that according to the most accurate Hebrew scholars, the best translation is I will consecrate it to the LORD, or I will offer it for a burnt-offering. As he wrote, “If it be a thing fit for a burnt-offering, it shall be made one; if fit for the service of God, it shall be consecrated to him.”

ii. Human sacrifice was strictly forbidden by the Mosaic Law in passages such as Leviticus 18:21 and Deuteronomy 12:31. It is almost certain that Jephthah was familiar with such passages because when he negotiatiated with the Ammonites, has demonstrated that he knew God’s Word.

3. (Judges 11:32-33) God grants Israel victory over the Ammonites.

So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith; twenty cities; and to Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

a. And the LORD delievered them into his hands: God won a great and important victory for Israel through Jephthah. He overcame bitterness and family rejection to meet a great need. Despite his difficulty past, God still wonderfully used him.

4. (Judges 11:34-35) A difficult vow to fulfill.

When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot go back on it.”

a. When he saw her, he tore his clothes: Jephthah made his foolish vow sincerely, fully intending to keep it. Yet he had not seriously considered the consequences of the vow. Therefore he was grieved when his daughter was first to greet him out of his house.

b. I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot go back on it: Jephthah knew the importance of keeping our vows to God. He would keep an oath even when it was to his own hurt (Psalms 15:4)

i. Ecclesiastes 5:1-2; Ecc_5:4-6 speak of the danger of making foolish vows. This passage makes it clear that it is better to not make vows at all than to make foolish vows. This does not mean that vows are bad – they can be good. It means we must take them seriously. Christians need to take seriously the sin of broken vows, and when we see them we must either repent and keep them or repent of your foolishness in ever making the vow, and seek His release from the vow.

5. (Judges 11:36-40) Jephthah fulfills his vow to God.

So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the LORD, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.” Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.” So he said, “Go.” And he sent her away for two months; and she went with her friends, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains. And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man. And it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

a. He carried out his vow with her which he had vowed: Some think that Jephthah did really offer his daughter as a burnt offering. If he did, this was clearly an example of misguided zeal for God, because God never asked him to make such a foolish vow or to fulfill it so foolishly.

i. Later in their history, Israel began to serve a terrible pagan god named Molech, who was “worshipped” with child sacrifice in the most terrible way imaginable. God never asked to be served in this terrible way, and therefore it can’t be blamed on God.

b. She went with her friends, and bewailed her virginity . . . She knew no man: These words indicate that it is more likely that Jephthah set his daughter aside for the tabernacle service according to the principle of Leviticus 27:2-4, where persons set apart to God in a vow are not required to be sacrificed (as animals were) but were “given” to the tabernacle in monetary value.

i. We know that there were women who were set apart for the tabernacle service; they were called the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting (Exodus 38:81 Samuel 2:22). It is likely that Jephthah’s daughter became one of these women who served at the tabernacle.

ii. His daughter and friends rightly sorrow that she was given to the tabernacle service before she was ever married. Probably most the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle were older widows.

iii. By sending his unmarried, only daughter to the service of the tabernacle for the rest of her life, it shows how seriously both Jephthah and his daughter took his promise to God.

iv. This seems like the best explanation because Jephthah is listed as a hero of the faith (Hebrews 11:32). It is hard to think of him as doing something so contrary to God’s ways as offering his daughter as a human sacrifice.

 

 


 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized