Thursday, January 6, 2011

Let's Not Be Like Samson's Wife

Reading: Judges 11—15  
Growing up, I lived on a big lake out in the country with a lot of woods and occasional houses. One day, my friends and I were returning from a walk in the woods. As we walked along the road with woods on both sides, and houses out of sight, my peripheral vision picked up movement so I turned to see a large black animal coming out of the woods in our direction. Apparently my friends noticed it too, because at once we all gasped fearing we had a bear coming toward us. However, our minds quickly realized that we were dealing with a large, really large, black dog... that we had never seen before, and didn't belong to any of the neighbors. We weren't sure if we were any better off with a dog than a bear, but since there was no way to out run him, I decided to call him and see how he responded.
This dog quickly became my constant companion and was immediately named Samson because of his large, powerful frame. This worked out quite well for me because I never had to fear any other dog in the neighborhood. There was this one dog that had plagued me for years. Any time I would ride my bike near the house of its owners it would chase me for 2 blocks barking and snapping at my heels. (In the country, nobody kept their dog on a chain or leash.) Not long after Samson became my companion, their dog was discovered mysteriously dead, with its neck snapped. My closest neighbor had a dog named Sinbad, which acted out its name...always barking and chasing any passer by and snapping at them. He too ended up mysteriously dead. No one ever knew for sure what happened, but both events occurred the evening after Samson witnessed those dogs chasing me. About the only thing that scared Samson was an Arkansas thunderstorm, and then like a baby he would head for the basement whining.
Samson was a powerful deliverer for the people of God. And he provides a wonderful picture of Christ. In fact, I am persuaded that the Gospel reference, “So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: 'He will be called a Nazarene.'” (Matthew 2:23) is referencing Judges 13:2-5 where the sterile mother conceives and has a son who is set apart to God from birth and will deliver Israel from the hand of its oppressors.1 This morning I wondered if Samson's wife doesn't also provide a picture of God's people—or at least a picture of the temptation we face, and a good example of what not to do!
First, she (sorry, I have to use pronouns, because her name is never mentioned) is chosen out of the Philistine country just as we are chosen out of the world. But think of the opportunity she has. She is now married to Samson, one of God's chosen. She could have been like Ruth and declared, “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) But instead, she still identified with the Philistines more than with Samson, her husband.
15On the fourth day, they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father's household to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?"  16Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer." "I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied, "so why should I explain it to you?"   17She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people. (Judges 14:15-17)
This is a basic extortion. Samson's wife had a choice: she could have trusted in her husband to deliver her and her father's household, or she could fear what her former people could do. She chose poorly. In the process, it appeared that it worked out for her, given that Samson was able to pay wager because of his great power. But think about it, that same great power was available to his wife to deliver her and her father's house. She feared the Philistines more than she trusted her husband.
As a result of this Samson headed back to his father's house, and his father-in-law gave his wife to Samson's best man. Needless to say, Samson wasn't happy, and when he took vengeance on the Philistines, they turned around and did to his wife and his father-in-law exactly what they had threatened at the beginning (Judges 15:6). Samson's wife missed the whole point of being married to a man like Samson: she had nothing to fear! But she feared anyway.
We too have nothing to fear, having been chosen by Christ, and married to Christ. He is our powerful deliverer. We can trust Him, when the enemy tells us we must revert to trusting in our flesh to fight with our spouse in order to be safe, or be mean to our children in order for them to do what they should, we can trust Christ and continue to love, and lay down our lives, and forgive and bear with others. We can overcome evil with good; we can trust that happiness and joy will come in obeying Christ not in pursuing the desires of the flesh. We can continue to trust that when we lay down our lives we save them. He has gone before us laying down His life for us. In fact, like Samson, Christ worked a greater deliverance in His death than in His life (Judges 16:30)! We have nothing to fear!
I did a previous post about Samson and these events titled, How Samson Making Fools Out of Philistines Points Us to the Cross.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,

1 For more on the fulfillment of scriptures mentioned in Matthew's birth narrative, and how they fit, consider the message, When Weeping Turns to Dreaming, from December 26, 2010.

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