DISCOVERY for STUDENTS: Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings

Judges

3rd Era of Judges: Samson

source for questions

Judges 13:1 through 21:25

key verse for memorization

“And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16:28)

background

By this time, the nation of Israel had been living in the Promised Land for a number of years. During those years, they had spiritual highs and lows. The spiritual low point in today’s lesson was brought on by disobedience. As a consequence God allowed the people to fall under the rule of the Philistines in the longest oppression Israel experienced during the time of the judges. 

The Children of Israel cried out to God because of the oppression of the Philistines, and once again God raised up a deliverer. Samson was chosen before his birth to do a great work for God, and it was pronounced by the angel of the Lord that he would be a “Nazarite unto God” from his birth. To help him accomplish God’s plan, Samson was given enormous physical strength. He became the thirteenth Judge of Israel. 

In spite of his godly heritage, Samson’s record was anything but exemplary. He grieved his godly parents, made friends with the Philistines, married a heathen woman, and alienated himself from those of his own nation. 

Samson paid a great price for not following God’s perfect plan. He shared the secret of his great strength: his Nazarite vow to not cut his hair. Due to more of his poor choices, he found himself in the arms of his enemy (Delilah) who cut his hair. Immediately his strength was gone. Captured and blinded by the Philistines, he was forced to work turning a human-powered gristmill in a Philistine prison. 

The Philistines credited their victory over Samson to their god Dagon, and they gathered at Gaza for a great feast to praise their god. (Dagon was a god of fertility whom the Philistines had borrowed from the Canaanites.) Samson’s hair had grown long again. In a final dramatic act, and through the help of God, Samson pulled down a building destroying many of the main people in the Philistine government and military. 

These chapters also record instances of idolatry, a disturbing account of a rape, murder, and the civil war between Israel’s tribes. It is hard to believe that these were God’s chosen people, but this passage serves as a warning to us that sometimes what is right in a person’s own eyes can be far from God’s will, and even outright sin.

questions
  1. At Samson’s birth, how long had the Israelites been under the rule of the Philistines? (Judges 13:1) What are some possible reasons for such a long period of oppression?
     
  2. What special instructions were given to Samson’s parents regarding his upbringing? Judges 13:7
     
  3. Under the dispensation of grace, which of our three foundational experiences is most like a Nazarite’s vow? Why?
     
  4. What are some of the heartaches Samson could have avoided if he had married a godly woman? (Judges 16:4-21) What are some contemporary parallels we can draw from this aspect of his life?
     
  5. After Samson failed God, he was given another chance right at the end of his life to follow God’s will. Does everyone get another chance? How can we best accomplish God’s plan for our lives?
     
  6. Judges 17 and 18 record a dispute between Micah and the soldiers from the tribe of Dan. What was it about? What sort of things do we see in our world today that parallels this kind of dispute?
     
  7. In Judges 19, we read of a horrible crime that was committed by members of the tribe of Benjamin. What was the nation of Israel’s response when the word got out? Judges 20:1-2
     
  8. What did the army ask of the tribe of Benjamin? What happened as a result of their response? Judges 20:13
     
  9. In an effort to salvage the tribe of Benjamin, what additional wrongs did the Israelites do as a means of trying to correct an earlier wrong? 
     
  10. What does this lesson teach us about the dangers of “toying” with wrong?
conclusion

A key point that can be drawn from this lesson is the need to constantly seek God’s will rather than to do what seems right at the moment. These three accounts are extreme examples that show it is much better when a person is acting within God’s perfect will.