I must say Sampson baffles me.
Maybe it's the different way men and women think.
Maybe it's the fact that I hate to be manipulated.
But how could this man not see through the lies?
And how could his anger rule if he was filled with the Spirit?
Sampson had a a wife before Delilah, you know. And that woman nagged him for a secret as well. Yes, Sampson baffles me.
But that's not to say that God cannot use flawed humans like Sampson... and like me. You see, I don't have to understand how Samson's mind or emotions worked to realize that God could use that to His advantage.
Now, the people of Israel had sinned greatly and God let their enemies, the Philistines, take over and oppress them. For He cannot be present when idol worship is going on. But when they admitted their sin and cried out to Him, God planned for a deliverer... in the man of Sampson.
For this was spoken to his mother by the Angel of the Lord...
For indeed, you will conceive and give birth to a son. You must never cut his hair, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from birth, and he will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines.
Sampson's given purpose was to begin to save the Israelites from the power of the Philistines. And interestingly, God used not only Sampson's strength, but also his weaknesses to accomplish this.
For while he was physically strong before Delilah's trickery, he was emotionally weak when it came to lust and anger. These emotions overtook him... but so did the Spirit of God.
So the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson. The boy grew, and the Lord blessed him. Then the Spirit of the Lord began to direct him in the Camp of Dan... Judges 13:24-25
Suddenly a young lion came roaring at him, the Spirit of the Lord took control of him, and he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. Judges 14:6
The Spirit of the Lord took control of him, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed 30 of their men (Philistines). Judges 14:19
When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came to meet him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord took control of him, and the ropes that were on his arms became like burnt flax and his bonds fell off his wrists. Judges 15:14
Even when Sampson was thirsty after a battle, God miraculously provided for him...
So God split a hollow place in the ground at Lehi, and water came out of it. After Samson drank, his strength returned, and he revived. Judges 15:19
Until the morning he awoke with his seven braids shaved off...
When he awoke from his sleep, he said, “I will escape as I did before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. Judges 16:20
But even though Sampson baffles me, the Lord surely does not. For this is what I know, because I find it every time I read His word...
And I actually think that God especially likes to use our weaknesses to prove His strength so that we cannot claim the victory for ourself.
Yes, people may baffle us.
They may in fact drive us crazy.
But know this... God is our Ever-Ready Strength in times of need! And just as He did with Sampson, He can cause us to fulfill our purpose if we will only let Him.
How grateful I am that our God loves us so deeply. For He has pursued us, His creation since the beginning of time. And even when we turn away from Him, even when we place our faith in worldly things, He patiently waits for our return.
For He knows that these false gods will not bring us happiness. He knows that we will be disheartened and only find misery. It's not as if He hasn't warned us over, and over again. And still He waits.
Finally, when our suffering had become too great, and we return to Him, asking for deliverance, He will sometimes remain silent. And we know, just as these Israelites did in the book of Judges, we need to get rid of our gods of pride, status, money and selfishness. He doesn't need to tell us to do that, we sense it. So let us be freed from them and sincerely cry out again... Deal with us as you see fit.
For He grows weary of watching us in misery. He is ever aware our ills. And He is always sympathetic to our cry.
The Lord is near to the broken hearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Oh, how amazing it is to find God in these places! The Old Testament is full of miraculous truths which we can use in our every-day life.
Today we walk into the life of Gideon. A hard working young man, doing his best, even under the oppression of an enemy force. It seems that the people of Israel were no longer faithful to God. So He has allowed the Midianites to come in an take over. They were like a swarm of locusts, causing the people to hide in caves and cliffs.
And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. So He appeared to Gideon to raise him as a prophet and deliver them from the hand of the Midianites.
Then the Angel of the Lord
appeared to him and said:
“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
But Gideon questions...
Why has this happened?
Where is God in all this?
And how can I deliver anyone?
Filled with doubt, Gideon is still not aware that this is God. But soon he will realize and fulfill his calling.
Did you know that the Lord is with you?
Do you sometimes have these same sorts of questions?
I mean we sometimes sit in the middle of our sorrow struggling to find a way out. We have worked hard at something, just as Gideon did, and can't seem to find a way to make ends meet. We use all reason and logic and nothing makes sense anymore.
But I'm here to tell you today, that God is STILL with you. He has not left you. And like Gideon, He has a calling on your life for purpose. So it is imperative that we stop our striving; that we let go of the need to fix it ourselves and listen for His voice.
For then, He will turn to us and say, "Go in the strength that you have and fulfill your calling. Am I not sending you?"
Now listen to this!
God does not want us to wait until we FEEL some sort of spiritual move before we get started. Just as He told Gideon, we are to go in the strength that we have. That is simple human strength, nothing more. It sounds strange I know. How can we do amazing things for God in our own power?
But could it be that He is wanting US to show Him our will... before He will show us His? Is it possible that He wants us to step out in faith so we can meet Him in the action... when we really need Him?
For look at what happened shortly after Gideon realizes this is God speaking...
The Spirit of the Lord took control of Gideon, and he blew the ram’s horn and the Abiezrites rallied behind him.
Gideon went in his own strength... and then God empowered Him!
God will not leave us hanging. He will not abandon those who are obedient to Him. For just as He did for Gideon, He turns to us... showing us the favor of His face, when we cry out to Him in need.
Listen! He is the same God, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Trust Him in this. Let Him be the Ever-Present Favor you need today!
These are verses of the song of Deborah.
Who was Deborah, you ask? She was actually a judge set to rule over Israel as they struggled in battles with their enemies. God empowered her with the wisdom of a prophetess as she guided the their military leaders toward victory.
And here, she speaks out to even the kings who are opposed, to pay attention to who is really God. For these enemies of the Israelites are now enemies of God because of their idol worship and evil practices.
So I love this boldness by Deborah, praising God even to her enemies. And she encourages others to speak out as well. To let them know of the Lord's righteous deeds toward His people. That the Lord has led them to victory in battle.
And He will do the same for us... if we will only trust Him. So let us too, be bold in our praise. Let us too be generous with our telling of who God is.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
Psalm 34:1-3 NKJV
And the cycle continues...
God's people have been handed down a covenant over the years which the Lord made with Abraham. He promised to faithfully be their God if they would carefully obey His commands. And often times to our free-loving nature, the word command causes us to cringe.
How could God be so demanding? Why would He want to restrict our freedom and demand that we follow a bunch of rules... commands even?
And the answer to God is simple. Because He loves us and desires the best for our lives. He sets boundaries in order to protect us from harm.
But inside our souls, we hear this taunting that screams out for protection of our free will... which He gave us. Why can't we just make decisions for ourselves? And the answer is... we can.
But just at the ocean is halted by the shoreline, God gives boundaries to shelter us. For if He just let the waves rush past, we'd suffer damage of hurricane proportions. And just as the snow holds tight to the mountains, God gives limits to keep us from an avalanche of turmoil in our lives.
You see commands... or rules, are like these natural boundaries. We need them for protection. And somehow we don't mind them in nature, but take away our free will and we get all worked up.
The truth is that God desires only the best for us. And like the Israelites, when we step outside those boundaries, we will find ourselves crying out... maybe not to Him, but crying out just the same.
How awesome He is to rescue us.
Back in the days of Judges, God provided leaders with wisdom to lead the people to Him. But when a judge died, the people stepped outside the boundaries... falling back into idol worship and disobedience. And their enemies took over and oppressed them... until they cried out to God... again.
And the Lord was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them.
I am ever grateful that even after my rebellion, when I cry out to Him, He hears me. Our Compassionate Deliverer is able to redeem and restore us time and time again. Oh how He desires that we just continue to seek Him, for He will protect us if we carefully obey with faithful hearts.
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