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Friday, December 9, 2016

Waste or Welcome?

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the Holy Spirit this week.  That’s because the Spirit was the hero of this Old Testament story.

Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife." (Judges 14:1-2 NIV)

Samson starts out his life of “ministry” being driven by his libido and a desire for a woman that went against God’s Word – she was one of the people living in the land who worshipped false Gods.  The Scriptures tell us that this was from God, but not because God thought breaking the law was good.  It was because God knew this was what drove Samson and God wanted to remove Philistines from the land.  God would work even through Samson’s weakness and sin to bring about God’s desired end.

Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. (Judges 14:5-6 NIV)

Samson was a Nazarite.  His vow did not allow him to touch or be near a dead body.  Even if that vow only applied to human bodies, lions were unclean animals…making this a messy story.  Later, Samson would eat honey right out of the lion’s rotting carcass – another no, no.

"Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes." "Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it." He replied, "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet." For three days they could not give the answer. (Judges 14:12-14 NIV)

Now Samson turns this mess into a game.  When his Philistine wife convinces him to share the answer to the riddle, and she shares the answer with one of the thirty men, Samson gets angry.  He goes and kills thirty people, takes their clothing to pay his wager, and then divorces his wife – giving her to one of the thirty men.  The list of no, no’s goes on.

Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room." But her father would not let him go in. "I was so sure you hated her," he said, "that I gave her to your companion. Isn't her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead." Samson said to them, "This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them." (Judges 15:1-3 NIV)

Driven by his libido, Samson tries to go get his wife back.  But now, she is already married to another man.  Samson gets so angry that he takes 300 foxes, ties their tails together in pairs, and ties a torch to each pair.  They foxes run around the fields in terror and the fields of the Philistines burn up.

When the Philistines asked, "Who did this?" they were told, "Samson, the Timnite's son-in-law, because his wife was given to his companion." So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. Samson said to them, "Since you've acted like this, I swear that I won't stop until I get my revenge on you." (Judges 15:6-7 NIV)

God wanted the Philistines defeated and Israel set free.  Samson wanted nothing to do with God and God’s ways.  Still, God accomplished His Plan through a man who was clearly interested in everything but God’s Ways and God’s Plan.  The Philistines will end up subdued for a time.  Samson, though, will not experience the benefits and blessings that come from walking together with God in this life.  Instead, he will live a frustrated and defeated life for most of his life.

The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. The people of Judah asked, "Why have you come to fight us?" "We have come to take Samson prisoner," they answered, "to do to him as he did to us." Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "Don't you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?" He answered, "I merely did to them what they did to me." They said to him, "We've come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines." Samson said, "Swear to me that you won't kill me yourselves." "Agreed," they answered. "We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you." So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. Then Samson said, "With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men." When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi. (Judges 15:9-17 NIV)

The hero in the story of Samson is not Samson.  The hero is God.  God’s Spirit gave Samson the strength to overpower the powerful Philistines.  Samson clearly didn’t want that power, though, or the God through whom it came.  Eventually, his libido got to him again.  He married Delilah – another Philistine.  She worked with her people to defeat Samson and they won.  They only won, though, because Samson cared more about his libido than about God.

So he told her everything. "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother's womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man." When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, "Come back once more; he has told me everything." So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. Then she called, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the LORD had left him. (Judges 16:17-20 NIV)

Samson had the Holy Spirit of God and he wasted it.

How about you?  Do you have God’s Spirit dwelling in you?  Is your body a temple of the Holy Spirit?  Do you waste or welcome His Spirit?