Daily Devotional

September 10, 2017

Daybreak: Judges 14:1-20

“And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.” (Judges 14:6)

A few years back I faced a job that looked oversized. Even though I felt sure it was the Lord’s will, I could not get up enough enthusiasm and energy to tackle it, and I wondered how I could ever accomplish what was involved. Day after day, I rolled the thought of it around in my mind, pondering ways to approach it. Nothing seemed to present itself as an easy answer, and the weight of it began to discourage me. 

One day, at an altar of prayer, I felt overwhelmed, and gave in to a personal pity party. I asked the Lord to please, please help. Why had I ever agreed to this? I did not know what I was going to do. Poor me! My strength was small, my job loomed large, and I was not able. In spite of my faithless moaning and complaining, the Lord met me to answer my cry. He assured me of His presence; He was there.

It was silly of me to wait so long before requesting help. From that point on, I began to notice that things were changing. I felt His everlasting arms sustaining and strengthening me. Now I could face the task, and I began to work on it little by little. I found I could do the job with joy that was previously lacking. 

Through that incident, I learned a valuable lesson: I no longer delay in asking God for help, because I have personally experienced it. I know He is interested in helping His people do the tasks He has assigned them, and the key to accessing this help is to simply ask. He delights in answering the prayer of faith!

Have you ever found a strength you knew was not your own as you worked for the Lord in some capacity? You may have been telling the good news of Jesus’ love to a Sunday school class, giving an honest answer of God’s requirements to someone with spiritual needs, or working at your normal duties. The power of God works on our behalf and carries the heavy end of the load. It is so good to have help with the right words to say or the physical strength to finish a task. 

Background

This chapter of Judges occurs approximately three hundred years after the death of Joshua. An angel appeared to a barren woman and her husband, Manoah, announcing that a son would be born to them, along with specific instructions regarding the child’s care. Even before the child’s birth, God assigned him a task: Samson was to begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. 

Samson was to be a Nazirite (or Nazarite), a term taken from the Hebrew word nazir, meaning “consecrated one.” This word has no connection to the term Nazarene, which refers to a citizen of Nazareth. In Numbers 6, we read the requirements of the Nazarite vow, which included: no razor was to touch the hair, no fruit or by-product of the vine could be consumed, and there was to be no proximity to a dead body, even if the deceased was closely related. 

The account of Samson portrays a very strong, impulsive man, likely unusual in appearance, who was nevertheless used as an instrument in the hand of God. Samson was vulnerable to the wiles of desirable women, and suffered for this weakness more than once. Certainly, there is much to be learned from his mistakes, but God was able to use him mightily to begin the deliverance of Israel.

Although walking was the common mode of travel, the city of Timnath was perhaps only five miles from Samson’s hometown of Zorah, and it was an easy walk for him. We get the impression that Ashkelon — the city where he seized the thirty changes of raiment — was far away, but it was not more than thirty miles distant. 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   Conditions during the period of the judges
      C.   Parenthesis: the tyranny of Abimelech
            9.   Samson 
                  b.   Israel’s deliverance
                        (2)   The conflict with the Philistines
                               (a)   Because of the woman of Timnah
                                      [1]   Samson’s desire for her (14:1-4)
                                      [2]   Samson’s attempt to secure her (14:5-9)
                                             [a]   The first journey to Timnah: the killing of the lion (14:5-7)
                                             [b]   The second journey to Timnah: the honey in the lion (14:8-9)
                                      [3]   Samson’s marriage feast (14:10-19)
                                             [a]   The riddle and the reward (14:10-14)
                                             [b]   The riddle solved by trickery (14:15-18)
                                             [c]   The reward secured (14:19)
                                      [4]   Samson’s loss of his wife
                                             [a]   Her marriage to another (14:20—15:2)

A Closer Look

  1. What inappropriate method was employed by the Philistines to solve Samson’s riddle? 
     
  2. How did Samson obtain the thirty garments needed to pay his wager?
     
  3. What might have been the Philistines’ reaction to the slaughter at Ashkelon?
     
  4. What is one of the most valuable lessons you can learn from this segment of Samson’s life?

Conclusion

God was able to use Samson to begin the deliverance of Israel. As we consecrate our lives to His work and lay aside any contrary personal ambitions, much can be accomplished through us for God’s kingdom.

Reference Materials