I’m so excited, as I always am, to get into the Word tonight. We have been in the book of Judges for the past couple of months. It’s been a tough but glorious study as we’ve seen the utter depths of human depravity as the Israelites have come to settle in the Promised Land. Rather than wiping out the enemy who lives in the land as God has commanded, the Israelites instead moved in with them, and we have seen the amazing troubles that it has caused for them.
Rather than being a holy people set apart for God’s glory among the Canaanites, instead, the Israelites have adopted some of the practices of the pagans. They have integrated into their society, allowing the cultural norms and beliefs of the Canaanites influence their own beliefs and practices. This is exactly why, by the way, God commanded the sons of Israel to utterly destroy them…but anyway…what we’re going to start tonight is not completely a new study…we still have 5 more chapters to cover in Judges…but we’re going to just step out of Judges with 1 foot while keeping 1 foot in!
We pick up the story of Samson in Judges chapter 16 and while this is not the last chapter in the book of Judges, it is the last that we will read on Samson.
So what we see in verse 1 is no surprise…once again we see Samson being led by his eyes… ‘he saw a woman’ but not just any woman, a harlot, a prostitute, a woman of the evening. And so he has relations with her, and he’s such a gentleman that he doesn’t even bother to stay until morning so he takes off at midnight.
But his activities are not going unnoticed. There are Gazites, so these are Philistines, realize that Samson is there and they decide that when morning comes, they’re going to kill him. And while that plan does not work, they do noticed two things: They notice both Samson’s strength and his weakness! His strength is, of course, just that. It’s his physical strength. As he departs the city, he literally rips the doors and posts right out of the ground and carries them on his shoulders all the way to Hebron, which is about 40 miles up the mountainside! And by the way, we sort of get this image of Samson carrying this tremendous weight all the way to Hebron and just tossing it to the ground, I almost picture him spitting on the ground when he does this, because Hebron is in Judah. You might recall, it was the men of Judah who, rather than fighting alongside Samson against the Philistines, brought 3,000 men to capture Samson and turn him over to the Philistines.
I get to stand up here each week and share not just from God’s Word, and not just my thoughts on what’s going on in the world around us, but I also get to share some of my own personal stories…those that I share with a glad heart and then those that I share with some embarrassment. So let me share a story of something that happened recently and it’s not one that I’m proud of but in the spirit of transparency and acknowledging my own failures before you, here goes…