The book of Judges may be understood as having the theme, “Tested through His faithfulness to chasten and deliver” (MCBC SS Notes, Summer 2009). Judges records how God’s people experienced a repeated cycle of failure, chastening, and deliverance. God showed His covenant faithfulness to them by subjecting them to testing and delivering them when they responded correctly to it. Through His loyal dealings with them, He restored them to a right relationship with Himself.
The life of Samson vividly displays the theme of Judges. Four chapters present two periods in his life: early life (13:2-25) and later life (14:1-16:31). These chapters are a remarkable record of divine involvement in his life:
- Before his birth (13:2-23) – divine initiative; appearances of the preincarnate Christ; answered prayer of his father; revelation of his God-ordained life’s work
- The Lord blessed him (13:24); we do not read of anything negative about his life to this point!
- His marriage was of the Lord (14:4)
- Four references to the Spirit’s activity in his life: 13:25; 14:6; 14:19; 15:14
- First prayer (15:18-19) – gave God the glory; regarded himself as His servant; showed dependence on Him
- Knew that he was a Nazarite to God from his mother’s womb (16:17)
- The Lord departed from him (16:20)
- Second prayer (16:28)
In spite of the great divine involvement in his life, Samson failed to be faithful to His God in numerous ways: went against parental advice; ate unclean food and gave it to his parents; married a Philistine woman; consorted with a harlot; loved a Philistine woman; sought his own vengeance (15:3, 7; 16:28). Interestingly, in the midst of his obvious problems with women, it seems that there may be evidence that he had some sense of marital fidelity (15:1-3).
In spite of Samson’s tragic unfaithfulness to Him, the Lord was faithful to Samson as he was tested through His faithfulness to chasten and deliver him. He was approved by his faith in our God (Heb. 11:32)! We read of him among the great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1). Ultimately, Samson was blessed, approved, and is in heaven because of God’s choice!
Reading of the failures of Samson (as well as of every other judge that we read about in the book of Judges) fosters in us an anticipation of the perfect Judge:
These periods of peace, however, did not last, and after Gideon’s time there was no more rest for the people. As a result the Book of Judges encourages the reader to look forward to a permanent solution to the problem of sin and to ask, “When will the Lord raise up a deliverer who will give Israel more than temporary rest from her troubles?” Thus Judges prepares the reader for the Deliverer, the One Jephthah called “the Lord the Judge” (11:27), our Savior Jesus Christ. God’s people will face the problems of compromise, sin, disunity, and bondage, but God in faithfulness still provides deliverance. And our hope for a complete solution rests on the return of our Lord (Robert D. Bell).
As we await the coming of the Lord the Judge, we should live godly as He tests us through His faithfulness to chasten and deliver us:
Each generation has a God-given role to fulfill—this ‘Judges’ stage was to conquer the Promised Land and dwell as lights amidst a perverse world—as part of its loving God mandate. Let’s beg Him to graciously allow His Messiah to judge us and deliver us so that we can return to a right relationship to His Word (MCBC SS notes, Summer 2009).
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