He’s a Judge?!

Posted: May 28, 2009 in Judges

Judges 13-14, “He’s a Judge?!”
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Introduction:
Ever come across somebody that you’re absolutely amazed that they do what they do? 5’ basketball player – deaf musician (like Beethoven), etc… We seem to see something similar in Samson. Normally when we think of judges, we think of people who were certainly flawed like us, but overall they walk with the Lord & show great faith (like Gideon & Deborah). That’s certainly NOT the case with Samson! Samson was far more scoundrel than saint – but God in His wisdom & grace chose to use him. And unlike other judges whom God raised up as adults, God gave His call to Samson before he was even born…

We left off with Jepththah – another flawed judge in the rashness of his unnecessary vow. Three “minor” judges followed him, and Israel gets caught up in the cycle of sin & apostasy yet again…

Judges 13 (NKJV)
1 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. It’s always striking to me that so much time elapses with Israel stuck in sin & submission to their enemies before things change & God gives them a deliverer. Happened again – this time for 40 years! The longest they had previously been sold into the hands of their enemies was 20 years under Jabin & Sisera of Canaan until God raised up Deborah (Judges 4:3). You’d think that after a certain amount of time, the Israelites would have looked up & realized what was going on around them…

B. How bad are they blinded by their own sin? They don’t cry out to the Lord in repentance this time! They’re so in love with the world & their sin that they didn’t even realize that God had so much more for them as His own special people.
__a. How far we go to justify our own sin! “It’s not so bad…it’s not like I’m doing _____” Or “Who’s it going to hurt, anyway? I’m only hurting myself.” Or “I can always ask for forgiveness later…whenever later is.” Or “It makes me feel good; and that can’t be too wrong, can it?” When you start hearing these things come out of your mouth, be careful! At that point, you love your sin more than God & you’ve forgotten what God has in store for you as His child & the grace that He’s already showered down upon you through Jesus!

C. God (in His grace) raises up a deliverer anyway. … Not unlike our salvation in Christ. Jesus died for us when we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8) – we were dead in our trespasses (Eph 2:1) – we were at enmity with God (Rom 8:7). Like Israel, we had no natural desire to repent… Yet God in His great grace sent Jesus to die on our behalf & call us to Himself for salvation…
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2 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. 3 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. 4 Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. 5 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. Sound familiar? Hannah…Elizabeth…Mary… With the exception of Mary, the other ladies were considered barren – and Mary’s pregnancy certainly started a lot of rumors & gossip! To them, their problems (understandably) seemed to be tragedy. But God turns tragedy in the lives of those who love Him to His glory… Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. []

B. What’s the vow of a Nazirite? Numbers 6 has the complete details…basically they were to abstain from eating or drinking anything made from grapes, & let their hair grow uncut, refrain from touching any dead body…all in demonstration of their dedication to the Lord. If any part of this vow was broken, Numb 6 gives the details how to deal with it (which we have zero indication that Samson actually followed). One major difference from a typical Nazirite & Samson – usually the Nazirite vow was temporary. God was calling Samson to this all his life…
__a. We may not use Nazirite vows today, but we are still dedicated to the Lord. For how long? For the rest of our lives! … In gratefulness to Jesus Christ…

C. The idea was that the Nazirite was a dedication to God. Does this really fit the description on Samson? Not really… But God still used him. WHY?! Because of God’s grace & God’s glory!
__a. God was going to glorify himself through the actions of this very flawed judge. Not by raising up an army, but by God using this single man to personally destroy thousands of the enemies of God.
__b. God in His grace not only used Samson – but held him up as an example of faith! [Heb 11:32-34] Why? Faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains – and it seems that Samson (despite his flaws) had a “little” faith.
__c. Good news: If God can glorify Himself through Samson, then by the grace of God, He can also glorify Himself through us because of Jesus Christ. We have nothing offer God in the 1st place, with the exception of our flaws. But He receives them & gives us the righteousness of Christ in their stead.
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6 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. 7 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.’ ” 8 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.”

A. It’s interesting that she recognized the Angel as being like the Angel of the Lord, but didn’t recognize Him as the Angel of the Lord. Scripture doesn’t tell us why – but it may be because Israel had fallen so far away from the Lord that they couldn’t tell the difference.

B. Tells her husband everything the Angel said (except the razor…) Manoah’s response to the news? He prayed. [] Amen! Got a question? Pray! Want to learn what God wants you to do? Pray…
__a. Does that mean we need to wait for a vision from God? Of course not; though that wouldn’t be out of the question for God to provide. But God has already revealed His word & His will to us in the Scriptures. When you pray, prayerfully read through the Bible! The Holy Spirit is our teacher (John 14:26); ask Him to teach you all things…
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9 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. 10 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!” [God answered the prayer…]

11 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.” 12 Manoah said, “Now let Your words come to pass! What will be the boy’s rule of life, and his work?” 13 So the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. 14 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. Interesting that the Angel doesn’t tell Manoah any more than what He originally told his wife… Only adds one thing: his wife can’t eat grapes/grape product either during her pregnancy.
__a. Aside: This indicates that the baby growing inside her womb was a real person; not a “blob of tissue.” God’s instructions were for Samson to take the Nazirite vow; that wouldn’t apply to some blob that wasn’t human…

B. What the Angel of the Lord doesn’t answer Manoah is regarding what line of work Samson would have. God obviously knew it (re: omniscience); but He wasn’t willing to reveal it to Manoah.
__a. Some things God wants to remain unknown until the time to be revealed. (Including the date of the rapture/resurrection!) And that’s ok! God is God; we’re not…
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15 Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, “Please let us detain You, and we will prepare a young goat for You.” 16 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.)

A. Demonstration of hospitality…

B. Was the Angel refusing worship? No (as we’ll see in a minute); He was affirming that all worship goes to God.
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17 Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, “What is Your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honor You?” 18 And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?”

A. Manoah’s idea was to name the child after the Angel of the Lord. Thought he’d be looking at something like “Michael” or “Gabriel”…he doesn’t quite know what he’s asking for, considering who he’s asking. If it sounds familiar, it’s because Jacob asked the same question when wrestling with God (Gen 32:29) & he received a similar response.

B. His name IS wonderful! Isaiah 9:6-7 (6) For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. [] Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus in His millennial & eternal glory as Jesus reigns as the King of Kings. Yet it’s not that Jesus only becomes wonderful after His 2nd Coming; Jesus has always been wonderful! Hb = “incomprehensible; beyond our understanding.”
__i. It’s incomprehensible to us that Jesus would die for someone like me & you. It’s incomprehensible that the perfect Son of God would become sin for us. It’s incomprehensible that the eternal Word would humble Himself in His incarnation – to the point of going to the Cross. Yet though everything about Jesus boggles the mind, it is truly wonderful!
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19 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— 20 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.

A. Why did they fall to the ground? They recognized it was the Lord & the proper response when you come before God is worship & the right fear of God. Isaiah proclaimed his own woe when standing in God’s throne room (Isa 6:5) – Peter asked Jesus to get out of his fishing boat when Jesus called him as a disciple (Luke 5:8).
__a. Praise God that we can come boldly before the throne of grace to find grace in our time of need! But let us never forget that as we come before our Abba Father in prayer, we’re coming before the Almighty God, Creator of the Universe! He is worthy of worship, if for no other reason than purely because He is God…
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21 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. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” 23 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. Manoah’s wife is wise…if God wanted them dead, it would have happened minutes ago, and she wouldn’t be carrying a baby by the command of the Lord.

B. But Manaoh still had good theology. Without the hand of God’s mercy & grace, they should have died. No one can see the face of God & live (Exo 33:20); but as they stood before the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ & offered a sacrifice, He looked over their sin in atonement & grace & in loving relationship with them.
__a. Praise God for the Lord Jesus! Without His intervention & sacrifice through His atoning blood, we would surely die. Outside of Christ, there is no hope at the judgment…

24 So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

A. “Samson” likely = “little servant/little sun” Pretty ironic considering how physically strong Samson was.

B. Most likely, there’s a time lapse between vs 24-25. Considering Samson’s type of service, he may have been a young man when he began to deliver Israel, but he would still have been an adult. And that’s when the “Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him.”
__a. To do the work of God, you must be empowered by the Spirit of God…
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Judges 14 (NKJV)
1 Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 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.” 3 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.” 4 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. Were his parents right to object? Yes! He should have looked to Israel for a wife. But God had other things in mind… Was this then a sin of Samson? It seems to be. Not only was he seeking a wife from among the Philistines, but he dishonored his parents (5th Commandment) in the meantime.

B. Can God use our sinful actions for His glory? Yes – absolutely. [Joseph vs. his brothers] Genesis 50:20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. [] Does that give us license to sin? … Absolutely not. We still experience the temporary consequences from our sin – we reap what we sow (Gal 6:7-8). Eternally, Jesus has taken that punishment upon Himself.
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5 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. 6 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.

A. I’m not sure what’s more astounding here: that Samson through miraculous strength tore apart the lion, or that the author of Judges thinks that tearing apart goats with one’s bare hands is an ‘everyday’ occasion! 🙂

B. What gave Samson the strength to do it? “The Spirit of the Lord.” NOT his hair – not his Nazirite vow – not any work of man. His vow was simply a sign of his dedication to the Lord; it was the Lord who empowered Samson to do the work…

C. Why didn’t Samson tell his parents? He wasn’t supposed to be there in the 1st place. A man under a Nazirite vow had no business being around grapes in a vineyard.
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7 Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. 8 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. 9 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. Found the woman he wants to marry… Keep the honey in mind for later…

B. Keep in mind that Nazirites were not supposed to touch dead bodies. By getting the honey out of the lion’s carcass, he was in violation of his Nazirite vow…

C. Would bees really set up a hive in the lion carcass naturally? Yes – keep in mind that at least some time elapsed between killing the lion & Samson’s return to marry the woman. It’s not like they had an animal control department cleaning up the highways of roadkill. 🙂 When the corpse rotted, it would have provided a good home for the bees. Even so – there’s little doubt God miraculously directed it, considering how much Samson used the situation.
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10 So his father went down to the woman. And Samson gave a feast there, for young men used to do so. 11 And it happened, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12 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. 13 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.”

A. Samson’s situation keeps getting worse & worse. At his wedding party to this Philistine woman, he doesn’t even have groomsmen to bring along with him – so the Philistines round up 30 guys to be his attendants. In addition, he’s at a “feast”, or “drinking party”…no doubt he was consuming wine. This is yet one more way Samson breaks his Nazirite vow.

B. Samson’s not exactly turning out to be the kind of man we’d expect God to use. He’s cocky, searching for wives among the Philistines, a trickster, a gambler, and a drinker. Yet God still uses him! All of this so far is a set-up for Samson’s 1st big exploit. God uses Samson’s sinful, carnal nature as a tool to exact God’s vengeance upon the Philistines.
__a. Does that give an excuse for us? “Oh God will make it all work out in the end. I’ll go ahead and indulge my sin now.” No – that’s hypocrisy! It goes against everything Jesus died for! Romans 6:1-4 (1) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? (2) Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (3) Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [] God forbid that we abuse the grace of God in order to engage in our sin!
__b. Keep in mind that we don’t walk in newness of life & holiness out of some sort of legalistic obligation to Jesus. That’s the law; not grace. But we strive to grow in holiness out of love for our Savior! We’re no longer the same person we were before Jesus saved us – for a Christian to live that way would be like a person going to a carnival with a corpse tied to his back. We’ve died to those sins through Jesus Christ! We’re raised in newness of life & we are now new creations in Him. So walk in that newness of life in grace!
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14 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. Good riddle! …
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15 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?” 16 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 explained it to my father or my mother; so should I explain it to you?”

A. Would Samson’s wife pressed upon him if she had not been threatened? We don’t know. Did Samson’s wife have a choice in the matter? Without question. She could have told Samson – undoubtedly he would have protected her.

B. How did she get Samson to tell her the answer to the riddle? Through sheer manipulation. Even granting that she was under duress, she approached Samson in a deceitful, sinful way… Is manipulation effective? Many times yes; but it’s always wrong. [VFL] Jesus showed us agape love when He saved us (and every day since!); we ought to act in agape love towards one another as well…and manipulation isn’t loving. It’s self-serving…
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17 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. 18 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. He finally told her & she told the Philistines. This is going to set a pattern with his relationships with women. He puts himself into a compromising situation, and then eventually gives into their demands. Two major problems here (among others):
__a. Samson had a lack of self-control: This is part of the fruit of the Spirit – but even though the Spirit came upon Samson, he was not filled in NT terms. For certain, he wasn’t growing in the Spirit.
__b. Samson had a lack of the fear of God: Especially evident when we think of his relationship with Delilah…but here as well. God had given him a gift, but Samson seems much more interested in his pride than in the glory of God.

B. “plowed with my heifer” – not an accusation of adultery, but an acknowledgment that the only possible way the 30 Philistines could have learned the answer to his riddle was from his wife.
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19 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. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.

A. Samson paid the debt of the wager; but not the way the Philistines expected…

B. In the end, he abandoned his wife & she was given to another…this comes into play in Ch 15 when Samson returns for her. In fairness to her father, since Samson left on the 7th day of the feast, he left before the marriage was consummated. The father probably figured Samson would never come back for her & so he gave her to another man.

Conclusion:
There’s almost more to learn about what NOT to do, than what TO do from Samson’s life. He was a scoundrel; but he was God’s scoundrel. And that’s what makes all the difference. Despite his flaws, God had a use for Samson – to carry out his wrath upon the Philistines, which Samson got started with in Ch 14 & will finish in Ch 16.

This is not an apologetic for “greasy grace”… … But it is a wonderful example of the grace of God. … We aren’t perfect (far from it!), but God takes us, imperfections & all, and uses us for His glory. He invites us as imperfect witnesses to be His witnesses in the Great Commission. He invites us to come before Him in prayer – He brings us into His very family – and grants us an inheritance we’ve neither earned nor deserved. Everything we have in Christ is due to the grace of God. How do we know for sure? Because we’re all Samsons. We may not have sinned in the same way he did – it may not be as obvious in our own lives as his – but without a doubt, we’ve all taken our relationship with God for granted, and despite all that, He still calls us His own people & children.

It’s because of this that we ought to strive to walk rightly before God! He’s forgiven us of so much & will continue to do so till the day we die. May we love our God more than our flesh & seek to let our flesh stay dead as we walk in life with Christ Jesus.

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