DAUGHTER OF MOAB

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FROM BAD TO WORSE 

Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons.  And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.  And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons.  And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.  And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.  Ruth 1:1-5

A poor economy is going to bring the greatest treasure of all human history.  Naomi is being carried by the winds of change, and death is destroying her family in a strange land.  All that remain are the two gentile women who were her son’s widows.

Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread.  Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.  And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.  The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.  Ruth 1:6-9

The famine was over in Israel, and Naomi expected to leave the young women in their own homeland.  They had a different idea.

And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people.  And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands?  Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons;  Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.  Ruth 1:10-13

Naomi saw no future for them without a provider in their lives.  She expected them to return to their own homes and gods.  Ruth chose to stay with Naomi and the Lord.

And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.  And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.  And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:  Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.  When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.  Ruth 1:14-18

ISRAEL HOME

So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi?  And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.  I went out full and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?  So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.  Ruth 1:19-22

Naomi has suffered and thinks that God has turned against her, but events may prove differently.

And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.  And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.  And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.  Ruth 2:1-3

Ruth went by chance to the field of Naomi’s relative Boaz.  It is not a coincidence though.

And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.  Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this?  And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab:  And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.  Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens:  Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.  Ruth 2:4-9

Boaz assures Ruth that his workers will not prevent her from gleaning that which the harvesters might miss of the crops.  She isn’t sure why he is helping a stranger.

Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?  And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.  The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.  Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.  And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.  And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not:  And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.  Ruth 2:10-16

Boaz knew that she came to Israel out of faith in her mother in law and in the Lord.  He further offers her a meal and orders the workers to let some crops remain for her.  Naomi asks her where she had worked, and who had welcomed her.

So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley.  And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed.  And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man’s name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz.  And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.  And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest.  And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field.  So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.  Ruth 2:17-23

Naomi is pleased to learn that a relative has received Ruth, and encourages her to return.  She gives special instructions to Ruth for the coming night. 

Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?  And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor.  Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking.  And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.  And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.  And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her.  Ruth 3:1-6

Boaz will go to sleep feeling good, but he will awaken to the winds of change.  He had endured the lean years of famine, and recovered to prosperity.  Soon that blessing will be shared with his kinswoman who had returned from her own hard times.  Their faith will make them part of the greatest story ever told.

RECONCILIATION

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AFTERSHOCKS 

So Israel completed the destruction of the army of Benjamin.  They made another punishment that would affect Benjamin for years to come.

Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.  And the people came to the house of God, and abode there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore;  And said, O LORD God of Israel, why is this come to pass in Israel, that there should be to day one tribe lacking in Israel?  Judges 21:1-3 

Without social contacts among the nations the men could have few choices other than inbreeding.  They were effectively cut off.  But events would lend some relief.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.  And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up with the congregation unto the LORD? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up to the LORD to Mizpeh, saying, He shall surely be put to death.  And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.  How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing we have sworn by the LORD that we will not give them of our daughters to wives?  Judges 21:4-7 

They reasoned that those who refused to serve God would be slain, so an opportunity was there for the men of Benjamin.  Any tribe that rejected God would be slain except for their virgins.  The city of Jabeshgilead had fallen in this transgression.

And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly.  For the people were numbered, and, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead there.  And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children.  And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.  Judges 21:8-11

So Benjamin had some relief, but not quite enough yet.

And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.  And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon, and to call peaceably unto them.  And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabeshgilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.  Judges 21:12-14

The leaders of Israel pondered the solution of this shortage, not wanting to destroy their brethren entirely.

And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.  Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?  And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel.  Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin.  Judges 21:15-18

So Israel suggests a solution to the problem that they had caused. 

Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.  Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards;  And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.  And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty.  Judges 21:19-22

They suggested that the men of Benjamin kidnap their wives! 

And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them.  And the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance.  In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.  Judges 21:23-25

They will not be without a king forever.  But first a woman will set events in motion that will change the world.

PUNISHMENT

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WAR CLOUDS 

War is coming to avenge the death of a concubine at the hands of the men of Benjamin.  Israel’s other tribes are expressing their outrage at this rape and murder.

And all the people arose as one man, saying, We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house.  But now this shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it;  And we will take ten men of an hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and an hundred of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to fetch victual for the people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel.  So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.  Judges 20:8-11

They sent ambassadors to Benjamin to identify only the men guilty of idolatry, rape, and murder.  But the leaders of Benjamin are unwilling to take godly counsel wisely.  They had confidence in their military skills.

And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is done among you?  Now therefore deliver us the men, the children of Belial, which are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But the children of Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel.  But the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.  And the children of Benjamin were numbered at that time out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, beside the inhabitants of Gibeah, which were numbered seven hundred chosen men.  Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss. Judges 20:12-16

Benjamin had some confidence in their twenty six thousand and their rock slingers.  But the other tribes were many and strong.  They were not prepared to be unfair though.  Only one tribe at a time would go up against Benjamin.

And the men of Israel, beside Benjamin, were numbered four hundred thousand men that drew sword: all these were men of war.  And the children of Israel arose, and went up to the house of God, and asked counsel of God, and said, Which of us shall go up first to the battle against the children of Benjamin? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up first.  And the children of Israel rose up in the morning, and encamped against Gibeah.  And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin; and the men of Israel put themselves in array to fight against them at Gibeah.  And the children of Benjamin came forth out of Gibeah, and destroyed down to the ground of the Israelites that day twenty and two thousand men.  And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day.  Judges 20:17-22

So the tribe of Judah suffered a defeat and huge losses in the first day of battle.  They sought the Lord again for his desire for their next battle.

(And the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until even, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him.)  And the children of Israel came near against the children of Benjamin the second day.  And Benjamin went forth against them out of Gibeah the second day, and destroyed down to the ground of the children of Israel again eighteen thousand men; all these drew the sword.  Judges 20:23-25

A second defeat suggests that we should be slow to oppose our brethren, even if we are in the right.  God is not assuring an easy experience in sibling rivalry, even against sin.  They humbly sought God again and he gave them their answer again.

Then all the children of Israel, and all the people, went up, and came unto the house of God, and wept, and sat there before the LORD, and fasted that day until even, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.  And the children of Israel enquired of the LORD, (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,  And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days,) saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And the LORD said, Go up; for to morrow I will deliver them into thine hand.  And Israel set liers in wait round about Gibeah.  Judges 20:26-29

Israel placed men in an ambush against the armies of Benjamin.  Gibeah’s armies went against them with their confidence established from the previous battles.

And the children of Israel went up against the children of Benjamin on the third day, and put themselves in array against Gibeah, as at other times.  And the children of Benjamin went out against the people, and were drawn away from the city; and they began to smite of the people, and kill, as at other times, in the highways, of which one goeth up to the house of God, and the other to Gibeah in the field, about thirty men of Israel.  And the children of Benjamin said, They are smitten down before us, as at the first. But the children of Israel said, Let us flee, and draw them from the city unto the highways.  Judges 20:30-32

Now Israel put their plan into action, retreating to draw their enemy into the ambush.  In time the Benjamites began to experience uncertainty.

And all the men of Israel rose up out of their place, and put themselves in array at Baaltamar: and the liers in wait of Israel came forth out of their places, even out of the meadows of Gibeah.  And there came against Gibeah ten thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and the battle was sore: but they knew not that evil was near them.  And the LORD smote Benjamin before Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men: all these drew the sword.  Judges 20:33-35

On this day the battle turned against Benjamin, but they were not aware of this at first.  The ambush of Israel was about to be revealed.

So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten: for the men of Israel gave place to the Benjamites, because they trusted unto the liers in wait which they had set beside Gibeah.  And the liers in wait hasted, and rushed upon Gibeah; and the liers in wait drew themselves along, and smote all the city with the edge of the sword.  Now there was an appointed sign between the men of Israel and the liers in wait, that they should make a great flame with smoke rise up out of the city.  And when the men of Israel retired in the battle, Benjamin began to smite and kill of the men of Israel about thirty persons: for they said, Surely they are smitten down before us, as in the first battle.  Judges 20:36-39

Even while the battle is turning against them Benjamin is still in denial, believing they will have another day of victory in battle.  Disaster gathers very quickly, and devours the proud with suddenness.  There is nowhere to run or to hide from judgment.  Isn’t this still the case when we slip backwards today?

But when the flame began to arise up out of the city with a pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them, and, behold, the flame of the city ascended up to heaven.  And when the men of Israel turned again, the men of Benjamin were amazed: for they saw that evil was come upon them.  Therefore they turned their backs before the men of Israel unto the way of the wilderness; but the battle overtook them; and them which came out of the cities they destroyed in the midst of them.  Thus they inclosed the Benjamites round about, and chased them, and trode them down with ease over against Gibeah toward the sunrising.  And there fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand men; all these were men of valour.  Judges 20:40-44

Being brave is honorable but not enough to make your sins right.  Protecting a few violent sex offenders cost the tribe twenty five thousand dead.  Israel extracted a price from all the cities they found.

And they turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon: and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; and pursued hard after them unto Gidom, and slew two thousand men of them.  So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; all these were men of valour.  But six hundred men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months.  And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to.  Judges 20:45-48

This shows a body of believers who did what seemed right in their own eyes.  Some obeyed the law, and others turned to false gods.  The law was harsh, and judgment was hash too.  In the New Testament many instructions are given for church leaders to deal with problems in the body.  The spirit of the law is to restore a fallen brother.  We are to consider rejecting him only as a last resort.  It should pain us like cutting off a diseased limb.  Even then a repentant sinner is welcomed back into the body.  Israel would have to consider their anger towards Benjamin and its consequences later.

CRIME

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CONCUBINE:  women of lower legal and social status than wives, who were, however, fully recognized mates. They were brought into a man’s home in part to produce heirs, and their children were fully legitimate.

This tradition was common in Islam and in the Far East.  It is still practiced in some areas today.  It was common among the patriarchs, except that here the scripture defines the man as her husband.  To Israel the concubine was more like a wife.  One Danite loved his concubine, and made effort to keep her in spite of her failings.

And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.  And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months.  And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father’s house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him.  And his father in law, the damsel’s father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.  Judges 19:1-4

Her father is recognized as being a father in law as a wife’s father would be.  And this husband honored her with patience.  Her father detained them at length in his entertainment.

And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he rose up to depart: and the damsel’s father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.  And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel’s father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry.  And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.  And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart; and the damsel’s father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.  Judges 19:5-8

The Levite finally had to get on his way, so they left rather late for a long trip.  They soon had to find a motel for the night.

And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the damsel’s father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.  But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him.  And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it.  And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.  And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah.  And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin.  Judges 19:9-14

Before King David, Jerusalem was a Jebusite city, not one of those possessed by Israel.  To be safe they went to Gibeah of the Benjamites.  I like to patronize Christian businesses and live among Christians when I can.  But are all churches hot for Jesus, or are some lukewarm or even cold?  Many are cold, but a few are frozen.

And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.  And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites.  And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?  And he said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me to house.  Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing.  And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.  So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.  Judges 19:15-21

Now these people greeted them warmly enough, but seemed concerned about anyone sleeping outside.  In the modern world we understand that, but it was not always so dangerous.  As they lodged in his house, they learn why he was concerned.

Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.  And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.  Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.  But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.  Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.  And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.  And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.  Judges 19:22-28

Was this Gibeah or Sodom?  The Benjamites had turned to worshiping Belial.  These men wanted to rape the man that came here.  They wouldn’t have the women either.  This host put his concubine out to appease them.  Remember, Concubines were respected as wives, even if they were of a lower social status.  She died to serve her husband.  His outrage was about to be communicated to the entire area of Israel.

And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.  And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your  minds.  Judges 19:29-30

She was chopped up and her body parts were mailed to every capital of Israel, which got the attention of all of their leaders.  They called out the National Guard.

Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh.  And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.  (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpeh.) Then said the children of Israel, Tell us, how was this wickedness?  Judges 20:1-3

News of a gathering army drew questions from the leaders of Benjamin.  They were worried about an apparent threat growing near their borders.  Israel hears from the husband.

And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was slain, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.  And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead.  And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel: for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.  Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.  Judges 20:4-7

Israel had an answer, and Benjamin had a reason for their apprehension.  They made some decisions on the spot.  Those decisions will lead to war.

THE LANDS OF DAN

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LITTLE FLAWS 

In the time of the judges people were pretty much living by “if it feels good, do it”.  Does that sound familiar, baby-boomers?  It sounds a bit like life in the 1960s in America.  It produced some strange stories and behaviors.  Samson seemed to run wild, and others were wandering away from the law then too. 

And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.  And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it. And his mother said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my son.  And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee.  Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah.  And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.  Judges 17:1-5

Micah robbed his mother, and then returned it to her later after her cursing and complaining about the theft.  She explains that the money was intended for him to buy an idol with, and returns the money to him.  But he gives the money back to her and she used it to buy the idols for his house.  HUH?  

She intended the money to buy an idol that would cause him to be cursed by God for breaking the law?  So he went ahead and kept the idols and more, in ignorance.  Was she seeking revenge against this thieving son?  He fell for it, even making his son join in the false religion as a priest.

In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.  And there was a young man out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there.  And the man departed out of the city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn where he could find a place: and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed.  And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, I am a Levite of Bethlehemjudah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place.  And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten shekels of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in.  Judges 17:6-10

Now a Levite crosses his path, a man consecrated to be of the real priesthood of God.  He hires on as a priest to Micah.  Was he aware of the idolatry in Micah’s house when he signed on?

And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons.  And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah.  Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.     Judges 17:11-13

Does it do any good to have a godly preacher if your life is not right before the Lord?  Will any good come of it?  The test is coming.  The tribe of Dan is wandering by.  Remember that their father Jacob has less than kindly prophetic words for his son Dan.  He called him a snake in the grass.  These men are advance spies scouting for land for the armies of Dan to conquer.

In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel.  And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men of valour, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there.  When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite: and they turned in thither, and said unto him, Who brought thee hither? and what makest thou in this place? and what hast thou here?  And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest.  And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.  And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go.  Judges 18:1-6

When the Danites recognize the Levite, they asked his advice for their conquest.  He reported to them that God was with them, to bring the army up.  They witnessed the weakness of the area themselves.

Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man.  And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and their brethren said unto them, What say ye?  And they said, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good: and are ye still? be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land.  When ye go, ye shall come unto a people secure, and to a large land: for God hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth.  Judges 18:7-10

So the armies of Dan are encouraged to advance on this comfortably overconfident land.  They suited up for the battle, and began the march. 

And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with weapons of war.  And they went up, and pitched in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjathjearim.  And they passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah.  Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what ye have to do.  And they turned thitherward, and came to the house of the young man the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted him.  Judges 18:11-15

So the spies revealed the idolatry going on in the house of Micah.  They greeted him with an armed host.

And the six hundred men appointed with their weapons of war, which were of the children of Dan, stood by the entering of the gate.  And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in thither, and took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men that were appointed with weapons of war.  And these went into Micah’s house, and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. Then said the priest unto them, What do ye?  And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?  And the priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people.  So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them.  Judges 18:16-21

Rather than destroy the idols, they embraced them for their own use?  They took the priest and the idols away from Micah, who gathered his neighbors into a posse to confront the Jews.  The leaders of Dan saw their small armed company and challenged them.

And when they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men that were in the houses near to Micah’s house were gathered together, and overtook the children of Dan.  And they cried unto the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What aileth thee, that thou comest with such a company?  And he said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away: and what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee?  And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy household.  And the children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house.  Judges 18:22-26

The leaders of Dan warned Micah to avoid a violent confrontation.  Wisdom prevailed for Micah and his neighbors when they saw that they were outnumbered.  They returned to their homes.  The Danites went on to complete their conquest.

And they took the things which Micah had made, and the priest which he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people that were at quiet and secure: and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire.  And there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business with any man; and it was in the valley that lieth by Bethrehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein.  And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.  And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.  And they set them up Micah’s graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.  Judges 18:27-31

What will this idolatry mean to Dan in the future?  Some suggest that Dan wandered away from Israel, and north through Greece and Europe long before the Diaspora.  They suggest that names like Denmark and the Danube may be from the tribe name of Dan.  Some (the British?) suggest that the wild Irish are Danites.  One thing we do know is that they are not listed among the 12 tribes sealed in the book of Revelation.  The sins of the fathers may leave a very long trail to many generations of descendants.

THE STRONG AND THE REPENTANT

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PROBLEMS WITH PHILISTINES  

Philistines (Palestinians) are in Gaza to this day.  They were trouble for Samson too.  But then going in to a harlot is trouble for anyone.  He was disappointed with his first experience with a Philistine woman, and seems to be determined to find one even in the wrong places. 

Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.  And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.  And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.  Judges 16:1-3

Remember, they made the city gates to keep armies out, to resist battering rams.  When Samson got mad he got more than even.  That stroll took him over ten miles of rough terrain to the hills of Hebron.  That’s a lot of anger!  Remember though that God had a purpose in using Samson.  Israel was too willing to live under Philistine domination, and no one seemed to be able to find any anger.

God intended Israel to absorb their land slowly, but not to lay down for their enemies.  He needed a man who would motivate Israel to act.  At times I think we are beginning to lay down and allow the world to run over us.  Perhaps we need a few good men here today.  Israel had one then.

And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.  And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.  And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.  And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.  Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.  Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.   Judges 16:4-9

At first Samson married the woman that attracted him.  Now he is just living in fornication with Delilah.  He is not faithful to God, and not too concerned about Delilah being faithful to him either.  He lies to her, and she betrays him.  Having an unfaithful woman would be one thing, but this is a treacherous woman. 

And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.  And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.  Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread.  Judges 16:10-12

She calls him a liar, while she is setting him up for an ambush.  Again men are jumping him with violent intentions.  This is not the stuff of a good relationship Samson.  

And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.  And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.  Judges 16:13-14

What part of “she hates you” don’t you get Samson?  But she is a professional whiner it seems, as she finally gets the secret of his strength.  She pressed, urged, and vexed him:

And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.  And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;  That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.  Judges 16:15-17

She knew he had given up his secret this time.  She was the first to afflict him.  Even Samson didn’t know that he was undone.  He didn’t know that something was different.

And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.  And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.  And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.  Judges 16:18-20

SAMSON IS A SHADOW

When I am caught in my sin I still want to think that I am in the right.  I look to blame someone else, and I may expect God to be with me in this.  Where is he when all this bad stuff is happening?  I don’t even recognize that God left before I turned away from him.  Then I remember where I am and what I did.  This is a look at Israel and we are Israel today too.  Israel had many misadventures in the false religion of their neighbors.  Did they point at Samson and the error of his departure from God’s law?  Did they recognize the message of his errors in their own lives?  Samson had a purpose from God in his behavior, even if he didn’t know it yet.  His enemies didn’t know it yet either. 

But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.  Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.  Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.  And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.  Judges 16:21-24

What could I have done if I had turned to God earlier in my life?  How might I have lived better if I stayed on the path since I got saved?  God knows when we will fall, and when we will recover.  He lets us grow very slowly until we are ready.  He let Israel occupy the land very slowly, until one day they will be ready to move in.  That day is coming soon.

And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.  And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.  Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.  Judges 16:25-27

If the enemies of God think that tempting the Saints as Balaam did will defeat us, they do not know our God.  He is patient and merciful to us as he is with Samson.  Their confidence will betray them as we remember our God.  In modern history Israel has repeatedly stood as strong as Samson against overwhelming odds.  We too are Israel.

And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.  And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.  And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.  Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years.  Judges 16:28-31

Israel became a great nation, but in her strength she grew careless.  Like Samson, they were vulnerable when left to temptations and overconfidence.  Israel would be taken into captivity in time, as the modern church too may also do.  The world needs the strength and boldness of a confident church.  A few souls who are willing to follow the sacrifice of Christ can influence the whole world.  We may need to remember to be as pure as the faithful Nazarites to be victorious.  God is faithful to forgive a few slips along the way if we remember to call on him daily.

BIG MAN ON CAMPUS

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REBEL WITH A CAUSE 

Guys may want to be a “big man” on campus.  What is that good for?  I remember a “big man” in grade school sitting on my chest, attempting to pound some sense into me.  I guess that didn’t really work.  But strength is an asset for some men, and Samson is the classic big man; with a little help from God.  He didn’t seem bound to the rules of others when he had strength to be independent.

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.  And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the  daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.  Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.  But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.  Judges 14:1-4

Samson is frustrating because he is the kind of bad boy the girls all like.  I want to hate him for his rebellion, but God had other ideas.  How often do we have an idea of what religion should be that doesn’t meet God’s standards?  Can we accept our fellow servant without judgment?  With Samson no one could stand up to criticize. 

Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.  And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.  And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.  Judges 14: 5-6

Samson can get what he wants, and no force could stand in his way.  But the actions of today build a pattern that can change our future.

And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.  And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.  Judges 14: 7-9

Samson must have waited some time to see that Lion dried out enough for bees to net in it’s carcass.  Even when so dry and clean, the remains posed a problem.  You may remember the ritual rules for a Nazarite from the book of Numbers. 

All the days that he separateth himself unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body.  Numbers 6:6

Samson remembered this encounter with the body, if not the consequences associated with it.  He used it to challenge the Philistines’.

So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.  And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.  And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments:  But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.  And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.  And they could not in three days expound the riddle.  Judges 14: 10-14

Samson is operating in pride as he challenges the Philistines mental skills.  They have not discovered his strength, which he had demonstrated against the lion.  They are angered by his arrogance, and threaten his wife with violence.  She is not faithful to him enough to resist.

And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson’s wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so?  And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?  And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted: and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.  Judges 14: 15-17 

A week of weeping makes one weak I suppose.  Samson is worn down by the shrew and relented to tell her the answer to the riddle.  The Philistines answer to the riddle reveals to Samson the treachery they had with his wife.  The violence he brings on them is empowered by God, not by sin on his part.  He goes home, and leaves his wife with one he thought to be a friend.

And the men of the city said unto 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 unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.  And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.  But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.  Judges 14: 18-20

How often do we find ourselves in bad company?  If we go among our enemies, we might expect to see bad results.  But Samson was either allowed or moved to go among the Philistines by God.  How often do we assume our neighbors are bad company because we don’t know what God is doing in their lives?  Later we will see David living with the Philistines too, was he a transgressor too?  Well Samson may have seemed to be lost, but let’s see how that goes.

But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in.  And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her. Judges 15: 1-2

His father in law gave his wife away?  He claims he thought Samson hated his wife.  So he offers her little sister instead.  Why would he hate the woman who betrayed him I wonder?  Well it didn’t satisfy Samson to be offered the pretty little sister.  He had his own plan to answer that.

And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.  And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails.  And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.  Judges 15: 3-5

Catching three hundred foxes is a chore unless God helped.  Setting them on fire motivated them to run wildly through the fields of the Philistines. 

Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son in law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.  And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.  And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.  Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.  Judges 15: 6-9

Their harvest was destroyed, so they burned his wife and father in law alive.  His revenge slaughter of the Philistines provoked a war party.  The Jews wondered why this was happening.  They wanted a solution to keep the peace.  Perhaps God needed a man of war to overcome their fearfulness and unbelief.

And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us.  Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.  And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines. And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.  And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock.  Judges 15: 10-13

These wimps couldn’t be trusted not to betray Samson themselves.  He had to make them promise not to kill him.  Their willingness to remain in bondage was greater than their loyalty to one of their own.  Will we find a man willing to stand against sin today?

And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.  And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.  And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.  And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramathlehi.  Judges 15: 14-17

The power of God made Samson strong in battle.  He was moved to extreme athleticism and the fury of the vengeance of the Lord.  The slaughter of God’s vengeance must have been horrific to survey after the battle.  This Nazarite had to have faith to experience such an anointing for battle.  Still he had a moment of unbelief after the fight.

And he was sore athirst, and called on the LORD, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?  But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof Enhakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day.  And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.  Judges 15: 18-20 

The water that God personally manifested in that jaw may have been the living water.  The place was named Enhakkore or fountain of him that called or prayed.  He knew he would not be left to thirst when he asked God for the drink.   

Samson wanted a woman who was not Jewish, which was not right.  He also ignored the  rules of Nazarites.  But in times when Israel was content under oppression, he was not afraid to fight for justice.  God knew him well, and made him the warrior of the hour.  The bad boys are sometimes the only ones with enough gumption to get the job done.

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