"His parents did not know this was from the Lord. . ." Judges 14:4
Samson had gone down and seen a Philistine girl that pleased his eyes. He told his parents to get her to be his wife. His parents objected, asking if none of the girls in all of Israel would do. But Samson was undeterred, his heart was set.
That is where we find this verses stating that Samson's parents did not understand this was all Gods doings. God was up to something much bigger and this girl was a part of his plan. God was going to raise up Samson to liberate Israel from the Philistines, and this situation was going to be the spark to set Samson on fire.
In fact, on the way to introduce his parents to the girl, we read of the very first time that it is recorded that the "Spirit of the Lord came on Samson in power" and allowed him to tear apart a young lion with his bare hands. God intended to set his people free, using whatever it took to accomplish His purposes.
Jesus surely connected to this portion of Samson's story. How many times did something come along in his life that his parents did not understand or see that God was up to something bigger than what they could understand. How often did Jesus' parents, family, and friends try and deter him from going somewhere or doing something because they could not see God's bigger plans. (Mark 3:21, John 11:16, Matthew 16:21-22).
But like Samson, Jesus' heart was set. Not on a woman, but on a goal. Jesus set his heart to please his Father even if no one else understood God was up to something bigger. Jesus learned from this story to trust the will and ways of his Father, even if everyone else tried to deter him.
Because of the determination Jesus learned from the story of Samson, and because he set his heart to please his father, when the "roaring lion" attacked him, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power, and Jesus was able to "tear him with his bare hands" just like Samson did.
There is so much more here in this passage with the bride being given away to someone else. The men of Judah, Samson's own people, delivering him into the hands of the enemy. The cords (of death) that bound him snapping in two. And the defeating the enemy with the jawbone of a donkey (symbolizing the use of the word of God) to the crying out of the warrior after the battle is over "I am thirsty" and the water of life being supplied from a spring that still runs today.
Judges 16 tells us the end of Samson's story. A man gifted with so much, yet he took it for granted, ignored the nazerite vows, and used his strength for his own purposes. Arrogance set in as he entered a relationship with a woman he was not suppose to be involved with (a pattern in his life.) He gave up his secret knowing she would cut his hair (she had followed the three previous instructions to a T). He figured his hair no longer mattered. He felt invincible in his own strength. He did not even realize that the Spirit of the Lord had left him. In his pride and arrogance he fell into the hands of the enemy.
What a warning to a young man named Jesus. He was gifted and granted with the ability to do things through the Spirit that went above all imagination. How easy it would have been to fall prey to pride and arrogance, especially with all the fan fare that followed him. Women surely threw themselves at Jesus because he could turn water to wine, heal the sick, and raise the dead. Stories of the wind and waves obeying him must have brought many who may have screamed for his attention. How easy it would have been for him to fall.
But the story of Samson would have continued to ring in his ears, reminding him to remain humble and remember where his strength came from.
The end of the story ends up well though as Samson calls back out to the Lord. He had been made fun of ( something Jesus would endure), been paraded in front of mockers (Same as Jesus would endure), and was led where he did not want to go (Jesus lived this as well.) However, Jesus read the end of the story, as Samson placed his hands on the two pillars, he cried out for one last burst of strength from the Lord, and with his body looking like a man hanging on a cross, Samson brought down the temple and in his death finally completed the task he was sent to do, free his people from the Philistines. Jesus would play this story out again as he hung on a tree, cried out to his Father, and in his death defeated once and for all the Enemy that oppressed his people.
Judges 17, 18, &19 are almost like reading a horror story of sin and depravity. We read of a man named Micah who sets up idols and hires a Levite as his personal priest in his house of idols and because he has a Levite he seems certain God is going to bless him.
Next we see the Danites (Tribe of Dan) traveling through and they steal Micah's idols and his priest. They go clear out a village and set up the idols for worship.
Lastly we read of a Levite and his concubine who is unfaithful to him. Then he retrieves her from her father's house, travels toward home and stays in a city of the tribe of Benjamin. While staying in a house as a guest, the men of Benjamin come and surround the house and demand the Levite be sent out so "they can have sex with him." The story ends with the concubine being sent out, she is raped throughout the night and abused, then left at the doorstep of the house. Judges 19 ends with her body being hacked up into 12 pieces and a piece sent to each tribe of Israel.
I cannot fathom the disgust and horror that would have fallen upon Jesus as he learned these stories. How had the Israelite people fallen so far so quickly. What had happened that had caused them to turn so far from God that such deplorable things happened and were recorded? And mostly, why had it been recorded for him to read and learn from?
Could it be that these stories were sent as a grave warning to Jesus to not turn from the paths of righteousness? Is it possible these stories helped Jesus understand the depravity that surrounded him in his days on earth? Could it be that maybe these stories were to remind him why he had to come and willingly lay down his life as a sin offering for the offenders? Could it be that it was all of the above and more?
As I meditated on these passages, in my heart I sensed the sadness that would have overcome Jesus as he saw how sin could so quickly destroy what his Father had built. I felt the pain of how far sin could take the people away from the God who loved them and longed to dwell with them. I sensed an anger over how quick the serpent had deceived his beloved and drove them to madness and depravity. Then I sensed a resolve to accomplish what he was sent to do.
What I do know for sure is that even these stories had a profound impact on my Savior and because of them, he was even more determined to follow the lead of his Father and redeem his people from their sins.
What a Savior.
Sorry this is so late, just been a busy day. Judges 20-21 tells the story of the destruction of the tribe of Benjamin for their evil actions in Judges 19. They are almost wiped out. But 600 men were spared to live and rebuild the tribe.
However, in the process, another story unfolded. 400,000 Israelites came to war against just 26,500 soldiers for the tribe of Benjamin. Seems like it should be an easy victory. They Israelites inquired of God and he told them to go up against them. But on the first day, the Israelites lost 22,000 men. That night they wept before God and asked, do we go up tomorrow. God sent them up. But on the second day they lost another 18,000 men. The tribe of Benjamin was kicking their tails. That night, completely confused and sorrowful, the Israelites wept again before God and asked, "What is going on? Do we dare go up again tomorrow." This time God says, "Go up for I will driver them into your hands."
So on the third day, the Israelites went up and utterly defeated the entire tribe of Benjamin and only 600 men were spared.
It was the progression of coming to the third day that jumped out at me. Here, Jesus would have seen another confirmation regarding his coming fight against son and death. The first two days it would appear he had been defeated, but from this story he would again be reminded of what was coming on the third day.
I am so excited about seeing these stories through the eyes of Jesus and realizing all he gained from studying them. I find great encouragement in them as well, knowing that regardless of how it may appear, the victory is always in Gods hands.
The book of Ruth must have been of extreme interest to Jesus. This is a story of his own family history. Jesus must have leaned in closer when this story was read to him.
But what did he find?
Naomi loses her husband and two sons. She is grief stricken. She tells folks to call her "Bitter" because the Lord has treated her as such. Naomi tells her two Moabite daughter in laws to return to their people because she has nothing she can offer them. However, Ruth begs to stay with her.
Two women, one a foreigner, returning to Naomi's home town with nothing to call their own. Ruth goes to glean in a field so they can eat. And where does she land? The field of Boaz, a kinsman redeemer of theirs. Boaz sees Ruth and is kind to her and instructs his servants to be kind to her.
This is all in the first two chapters. Jesus must have wondered about this particular family connection. A Moabite woman, a country God had forbidden the Israelites to intermingle with, has come to his town of birth, Bethlehem. And here her story will intersect his in a direct way as she will soon be a part of his family tree.
From this Jesus would have gained a love, not just for the people of Israel, but for All nations, even the seemingly rejected ones. God used what a pure Jewish person would consider a tarnish on a family tree to bring about the lineage of His own Son. God was sending a clear and direct message to Jesus that his life, death, and resurrection would not only impact the people of Israel, but his love would go into all the world and redeem people from every tribe and nation.
I can't wait to dive through the rest of Ruth and lean in with a young man named Jesus and be impacted by this amazing love story His Father is telling him.
The book of Ruth is short (only 4 chapters) but is packed with impact. I leaned in again this morning as I was reading the story, imagining I was a boy at my parents feet listening to a story about my ancestors, just as I think Jesus did.
Ruth has been out gleaning in the fields of Boaz. Now harvest time is over and threshing has begun. Ruth is sent by her mother in law to lay at the feet of Boaz, her kinsman redeemer. Boaz accepts the role, but someone else is ahead of him and he must first offer Naomi's land and Ruth to him first.
The other redeemer excitedly accepts the land of Naomi's husband, but once he realizes he will also have to take Ruth, a Moabite woman, as his wife and bear children in her husbands name, he declines, leaving Boaz to be the redeemer.
I wonder how much Boaz reflected on his own family tree during this time. How much influence did the story of his Great great great great grandfather, Perez, whose mother as Tamar, the widow of Judah's son whom Judah neglected, then ended up making pregnant as he believed her to be a prostitute.
Then I imagine him thinking of his own mother. A woman from Jericho, a foreigner to the Israelites. A woman, who before her redemption, was a prostitute in Jericho. Her name was Rahab.
Stories upon stories of someone who was despised, rejected, and by all accounts should have been cast out, like a Moabite woman named Ruth. But each story filled with redemption. Each story perfectly placed in the family lineage of a young boy named Jesus who heard the words of Ruth 3:18 and took them to heart -
"Wait . . . Until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today."
Jesus, sent to be the Redeemer, looked out over the ones laid at his feet. By all accounts, they should have been cast out. Foreigners, prostitutes, murderers, thieves, liars, haters, a wretched bunch of sinners. But just like Boaz, he heard our cries to "Spread the corner of your garment (righteousness) over me, You are our redeemer." (3:9) And like Boaz, Jesus cried out "as surely as the Lord lives, I will do it!" (3:13)
And like Boaz, a young man named Jesus set his face to complete his task. And like Boaz, he did not rest until "It was Finished" and he continues his work today "preparing a place" for his redeemed!
I am so thankful for this story, the story of a woman who should have been despised as a Moabite woman because God had declared they were not to enter the assembly of the Lord. Yet here, God shows his love and mercy, inviting Ruth into his Sons family tree. He uses a son of a former Jericho prostitute to have a tender heart toward this woman. God is up to a story of redemption and this story impacted Jesus in a deep and meaningful way. Because Jesus sees the never needing mercy of His Father in this story, he extended that immeasurable mercy to me, a sinner.