Read Judges 15
Samson’s Vengeance on the Philistines
15 Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father would not let him go in.
2 “I was so sure you hated her,” he said, “that I gave her to your companion. Isn’t her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead.”
3 Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” 4 So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, 5 lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves.
6 When the Philistines asked, “Who did this?” they were told, “Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because his wife was given to his companion.”
So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. 7 Samson said to them, “Since you’ve acted like this, I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” 8 He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam.
9 The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. 10 The people of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight us?”
“We have come to take Samson prisoner,” they answered, “to do to him as he did to us.”
11 Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?”
He answered, “I merely did to them what they did to me.”
12 They said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”
Samson said, “Swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves.”
13 “Agreed,” they answered. “We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. 14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. 15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
16 Then Samson said,
“With a donkey’s jawbone
I have made donkeys of them.
With a donkey’s jawbone
I have killed a thousand men.”
17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.
18 Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi.
20 Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.
In chapter 15, Samson continues to destroy the Philistines through a series of acts of revenge. First, Samson learns his wife’s father gave her to marry the person who was, essentially, his best man (14:20). To appease Samson, the father offers him his younger daughter instead (15:2). In verses 3 through 6, Samson destroys the grain of the Philistines. In response to this act, the Philistines burn his wife and her father with fire. This drives Sampson to enact revenge by killing those men (verses 7-8), and with the help of the Holy Spirit, 1,000 more Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey (verses 14-16).
After single-handedly decimating a small army of Philistines, Sampson is thirsty. For the first time in the chapter, he calls out to God for physical water. God provides for him in verse 19, and Sampson is revived. Why is this significant?
This is significant because it is the first recorded account of Samson calling out to God. So far, Samson has followed a pattern of relying on himself and following his own path, marrying outside of his people, being prideful about his strength and wits, and acting out of anger and revenge. Up to this point, Samson has not sought God in any sense, spiritual or otherwise. But finally Samson credits God for his strength and abilities and asks God for something he needs.
While we have not been given the phenomenal strength of Samson, God has given all of us gifts He wants us to use for His will and glory. Oftentimes, we rely on our gifts to make our own way, only to rely on God when our circumstances are far beyond our control. We can avoid this by seeking God first in everything we do and allowing Him to work through us. With the knowledge of Jesus and the gift of grace, we have the ability to pray to and worship a heavenly King.
Samson, like other judges in this book, acted on his own and faced significant consequences for his actions. However, God still used Samson’s actions to fulfill His will and show the Israelites the way back to Him. Let us remember that our gifts are for God’s glory, not our own, and seek to use them only as we seek to obey God’s will in our lives. It is never too late to acknowledge our need for God and glorify Him.
- What does it mean to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) when making decisions in your own life?
- What are ways we can hold ourselves accountable to respond to hard situations in God’s will rather than impulsively or vengefully?
- What is one thing you can begin to do to put God first and yourself second?
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