Judges 15• Introduction
Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2“Later on, at the time of wheat harvest,Samson took a young goat...
Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5
Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5“Samson said to th...
Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take...
Judges 15:6“When the Philistines asked, ‘Who did this?’they were told, ‘Samson,the Timnite’s son-in-law,because his wife w...
Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take...
Judges 15:7-8“He attacked them viciouslyand slaughtered many of them.Then he went down and stayedin a cave in the rock of ...
Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take...
Judges 15:9-10“The Philistines went up and camped in Judah,spreading out near Lehi.10 The people of Judah asked, ‘Why have...
Judges 15:11-13Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in therock of Etam and said to Samson, ‘Don’t you ...
Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take...
“As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came towardshim shouting. The Spirit of the LORD camepowerfully upon him. The rope...
So what do you makeof such violence?!• Samson’s a man of his age• The editor is demonstrating moral, political &spiritual ...
The permanent value of Judges …• God is Righteous• God is Sovereign• God is gracious & long-suffering• Fallen heroes highl...
Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take...
Judges 15:18-19Because he was very thirsty, he cried out tothe LORD, ‘You have given your servant this greatvictory. Must ...
Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take...
Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take...
The heroes of Hebrews 11“I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah,about David and Samuel and th...
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Judges 15 running shoes or donkey jawbone

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These slides accompany the video sermon at http://youtu.be/sKlNoMWwu_k

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  • Last Thursday we were treated to video footage of a man carrying a meat cleaver on the streets of Woolwich.Today we are looking … because it’s the next passage in our series about ‘Samson – flawed hero’ at an incident involving the jawbone of an ass.What’s the difference between the two?One says he’s doing this in the name of God … and so does the other.One kills one man (and seems not to do have done THAT much alone) whereas another kills a thousand people armed only with part of the decaying carcase of a donkey.Which one shows any evidence at all of God at work?The one that has truth behind it is obviously going to be the genuine article, but which of these accounts shows any sign that God is actually at work in it?And, of course, if God is at work, then we look into what he is doing and why He is doing it and we see the justification for that violent act.It seems to me that taking a car, several sharp implements and two people to brutally kill one man is the sort of stuff people do, but the very SCALE of what Samson does in this account not only magnifies the horror of the event, but gives evidence that some superhuman force has been deployed here.In fact, God has declared His plan and purpose for the Land with the reasons he cites for that policy.The Bible (as we saw last time) spells out that the pagan peoples of the Land were to be destroyed and driven out because they were hopelessly committed to all manner of idolatrous and immoral practices and the newly redeemed Israelites were not to be allowed to get corrupted by them.As we said last time we’re dealing here with NARRATIVE … it’s crucial to understand that we are not reading Paul, or dealing with the redeemed NT church nor life in the power of the Spirit!There ARE violent episodes in the OT.There is also a Sovereign Lord, the Judge of all the earth, Who does what pleases Him, Whose ways are always Right!And as we yet, we don’t get it … but we know Him!We’ll say more about that before we finish …So my plan is to track through the narrative so the point kicks in as it’s meant to, and hits us where it should.It’s a STORY!So then, my friends, gather round and I’ll tell you a story … a story FULL of wisdom, of the people long ago …
  • The wheat harvest around Timnah would have come around this time of year … end of May/ beginning of June.As far as he is concerned, the tension round the riddle at the wedding feast is resolved and he is going down there to cohabit with his sedaqa wife as a visiting husband would, taking the traditional young goat.But his father in law understood things rather differently … Samson had not stayed for the wedding festivities, his daughter was therefore not married to him, no doubt the clan had gathered to discuss what to do in the light of Samson’s premature departure and the bride had been given to the best man.This is definite, spiritual progress.Up until now the Philistines’ political offensive had been root and branch conciliatory.It was all assimilation and NO confrontation.Samson’s achievement lies in getting them out into the open.And his visit to his ‘wife’ that day started the process of flushing out the Philistines.(Read the text).So someone else was now DEFINITELY ‘ploughing with his heifer’ … the last chapter’s bust up at the nuptials had been compounded by this father and now Samson couldn’t ‘visiting husband’ his wife.(And he’d turned up with a young goat and everything!)I guess these days it’s a better bet to bring flowers …We know from Samson’s dealings with his father in the previous chapter that he really wanted this woman, and was insisting on his own way … he was HAVING her!But now he’s not, and Samson decides he is going to take offence.So the Philistines have offered Samson offence … the Philistines who were NOT being either seen or confronted as the spiritual enemies of the goodly, but whose ways and faith were just being quietly assimilated as Israel was absorbed into their Philistine fellowship.Samson is the grit in the machine of a multi culturalism that is devoid of truth.
  • Samson is about to ‘go off on one’ … and he’s deliberately going to do so.Now we need to remember this: for offence to be given, it has to be TAKEN.Refusing to take offence is what REALLY confounds those who seem determined to offend you.But there are times when it can be wise to take offence and pursue the matter in the way the Lord leads you.Samson, of course, had none of the benefit of having a NT perspective on the matter … as you can tell by what he does next.
  • First of all then, notice that he’s acting intentionally and not in the throes of a temper.Secondly, see that Samson means business.He’s striking at the standing corn, vines and olive trees of the Philistines … in effect he’s going for most of their shopping trolley.Thirdly he’s showing he’s a formidable character in the way that he does this.Who is able to catch three hundred foxes, tie a leather thong to each tail, bunch them up and then fix lighted torches to each pair of tails … the chaotic running around of these wild dog incendiaries each pulling at the other in an attempt to get away creates chaos of the very highest order.These Philistines are up against a FORCE in the Land!
  • What follows from all of that reveals the reality of the hearts of these Philistines.They’re a thoroughly bad lot altogether.Whenever folks complain about what God gets His people to do to or about the seven nations of Canaanites and the five cities of the Philistines … you sometimes want to say ‘just remember how bad they were and how corrosive an influence their gods and the mind-set they created were on His world’!Something needed doing about these people and it WAS being because His patience was exhausted with them!They were idolatrous, nasty and VIOLENT!Look at this …
  • Clearly the effect of Samson’s act of revenge was of great seriousness in the Philistine economy.The Philistines were sea peoples who lived largely in cities and urban settlements and their success and growth meant they needed to spread out into the surrounding Israelite agricultural areas to feed their urban populations which were thriving on trade but remained unable to EAT it!Around Timnah lay an area of food production that was of importance to the five cities on the coast has just had its grain harvest ROASTED … Philistine children would be hungry that winter on account of the scale of the devastation wrought by Samson, and the hurt was increased as the fire spread to vineyards and olive groves too.Now, a thing like this was always going to draw in the Philistine rulers of the five cities down by the sea, because the Philistine hierarchy needed peaceful conditions in which to dominate the Israelites to grasp their land to grow food crops … food crops were always amongst the very first casualties in ancient warfare.And any one of the Philistines’ own people rocking the boat and threatening the food supply in this way was going to be in for a trouncing.It is a testimony to their brutality and callousness that they cracked down in the way that they did.I’d say that it is a little bit ironic that the very fate Samson’s ‘not wife’ tried to evade by getting his secret out of him eventually befell her after all.But it’s the violence and the horror of what they did to their own which points up the nature of the people Samson is dealing with.They’re not nice.Samson is going to go out and get revenge on them …
  • So by now you are thinking that all this offence giving and taking and its cycles of revenge are all counter-productive and out of control?But look … Samson is the one trying to make it all judicial not vengeful, and PROPORTIONATEV. 7’s poorly translated in NIV …NIV has: “Samson said to them, "Since you've acted like this, I swear that I won't stop until I get my revenge on you.“”Samson actually says: ‘because of this I will take revenge on you, but then I will quit!’וְאַחַר אֶחְדָּֽל(Weacharechadal)Samson’s NOT buying into endless cycles of blood feuds and violence …And he prevents it self sacrificially by what he does next …
  • If Samson returned to any settlement amongst the tented villages of his tribe the Danites (and remember what distinguished them amongst all the tribes in Israel at this time was the fact that they had no walled cities) … what would the Philistines do to Samson’s own people?Samson was going to function as a judge in Israel for the next twenty years.People were going to bring their complaints and their disputes to him for twenty years and he was going to adjudicate and enforce judgements and decisions.But for the safety of his own people and their vulnerable settlements he’d do so as an outsider, one they could stand slightly apart from, living alone in a cave in the rock of Etam.What do we know about the place?Samson went away from his own people’s vulnerable tented settlements and made his home ‘in the cleft of the rock at Etam’.There is a lot to support the view that he lived for the rest of his career as a judge in Israel in a cave in the cliffs above WadiIsma‘in.It was a rocky outcrop with only one entrance that was only wide enough for one man to squeeze through.This lay 2.5 miles south-east from Zorah … and although the context makes clear it was somewhere in Judah, Philistine pressure on the tribes of Dan and Judah had made their common border a little bit fluid.
  • But the Philistines were bent on a feud by now … which is exactly what God needed to clarify the Philistine threat and he need to stand up and confront it.The massacre of Philistines at Timnah led to the assembling of a force of over 1,000 Philistines to deal with Samson, the one man menace.In itself, sending 1,000 men to do to him as he’d done to them was a real indication of his strength … the strength God gave him.And as we’re about to see, they’d actually under-estimated it.So what’s going on?Vv. 9-10 …
  • ‘Lehi’ means ‘jawbone’.We’re about to see why it came to be called that.For the moment, just see in your mind’s eye that 1,000 strong Philistine force raised for this particular military purpose from the five cities of the Philistines and notice the extent to which the cowering Israelites have (without fighting back) been brought into absolute submission for fear of the power of these followers not of God but of Dagon.They want to lie down, roll over and make Samson take what’s coming …
  • These Israelites clearly have a better understanding of Samson’s strength than the Philistines do.The Philistines sent 1,000 men to tie Samson.The Israelites had a pretty good idea that 1,000 men just wasn’t going to cover it!But look … it’s the Israelites’ servile attitude that is the key issue here …They’ve got Samson on their side, but they just don’t want the boat rocked.They’d rather cower beneath a Philistine yoke than assert themselves in the name and the power of their God!v. 11 “‘Don’t you realise that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?’Well, let’s think about that.What HAS Samson done to them?In the strength God supplies Samson has given God’s enemies a KICKING!But rather than go forward trusting God to turn back their enemies and give victory to faith, the Israelites would rather cower before the hosts of Dagon!They are NOT INTERESTED that he has simply done to these people what they have done to him.They aren’t impressed with the way God has obviously been so able to protect His servant’s cause.They aren’t having any of that.v. 12: “They said to him, ‘We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.’So what options has Samson got here?He can kick the lights out of his own people, or he can come up with a better way of protecting these vulnerable people by keeping them in the Philistines favour whilst nevertheless dealing with these Philistines in the service of the one true living God.
  • So here’s what he goes for.He says they can tie him up but they must promise him they’ll not try to kill him themselves.It’s not, of course, that he doesn’t want to be overpowered and killed by his own people … these ropes are no suitable restraint for a man like Samson!No, it’s just that he doesn’t want to end up in a situation where they tie him and (thinking they’ve overcome him) they try to kill him only to have the Spirit of the Lord come upon him so powerfully that he slaughters thousands of his own people!Samson has a better plan going on than that …So he lets the Israelites bind him and lead him off captive to the Philistines.
  • It looks as if the Philistines get fresh courage when they see Samson being brought – bound – out of the fastness of Etam into the Lehi valley below.And their shouts rise with their courage … they reckon vengeance is now going to be theirs.But as their shouts rise the Spirit comes down on Samson.I have no personal experience of charred flax … does anyone here?But the sort of charred cotton cloth we might use as the makings of a fire starting kit is fragile and delicate.In any event, the point is made for us that AS they became like charred flax the two new ropes Samson had been bound with fell away.Most people’s first thought in such a situation might have been more to do with running shoes than asses jawbones … But here we go, v. 15, Samson finds a fresh, red, jawbone of a donkey and makes complete donkeys of the Philistine army.And then he waxes all poetical in v. 16!That victory statement of Samson’s is quite poetic and commentators struggle to render it in English.The NIV’s not bad for the first phrase … ‘with a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of THEM’But the second phrase is harder … one attempt goes: ‘with the jawbone of an ass, I have piled them en masse’!
  • Look at the big point the author of Judges makes here, and apply to these closing words of the incident the established principle in narrative of the ‘rule of End Stress’ … the big point being made’s at the end!
  • All that Samson did was done with God … Samson was weak in himself … especially after a haircut as we’re going to see later … but clearly, as seen here, ALL the time!
  • Now that the big battle was over and the Spirit had departed again, a bit of a reaction seems to have set in … huge energy deployed in the battle has left Samson with a fierce thirst.And it BOTHERED him that he might now succumb in that deserted place to dehydration, with Philistines returning to mistreat and mutilate his corpse.Elijah’s spirit also collapsed after the huge encounter with the prophets of the Canaanite deity Baal on Mount Carmel.In that case and in this God refrains from scolding His servants for their childish outbursts and very graciously just provides for their legitimate physical needs.He is NOT superhuman.WE are not superhuman.But our God IS MORE THAN superhuman … and ordinary people who put their trust in Him – even to the extent Samson does by letting himself be bound and led out to the Philistines BEFORE the Spirit of the LORD comes upon him – end up doing rally extremely superhuman things.Have you ANY clear idea of what you are capable of on your own?Have you ANY idea what you can do when the Spirit of God comes upon you?
  • Samson went on judging Israel for 20 years … probably 1080-1060 BC of thereabouts.He who was faithful and proved the power of God to sustain him under pressure went on to persevere steadily in serving God when it’s hardest, in the daily, lonely grind of leading the people of God.Samson is a man set up as a beacon.His light is NOT clear and pure.Neither is yours.Neither is mine.How could God use a man like that?!The same way that God can use a man like you, or like me.Simply, only EVER, by His grace.How could God use such a man to do things like THAT?Simply, only, as the Sovereign Judge of all the earth … and it tends to be those who don’t know and trust Him who take exception.God RULES.That was Samson’s message to the Philistines and it is his message to you and me today.He operates through the imperfect to effect that which IS perfect … sometimes so perfect our fallen humanity cannot grasp it.This is no psychologically damaged person wielding a meat cleaver on the streets of Woolwich.This is a servant of God, in truth.And He does NOT simply what human hurt drives him to do, but what the Spirit of God moves and empowers him to do.So let me leave you with what Hebrews 11 says of him:
  • No stained glass saints there, then … but men who faced danger, perils and hardships trusting in their God (like Samson bound being led down towards the Philistines by his own treacherous, cowardly people) … and who thus proved the power of God.
  • Judges 15 running shoes or donkey jawbone

    1. 1. Judges 15• Introduction
    2. 2. Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2“Later on, at the time of wheat harvest,Samson took a young goat and went to visit hiswife. He said, ‘I’m going to my wife’s room.’ Buther father would not let him go in.2 ‘I was so sure you hated her,’ he said, ‘that Igave her to your companion. Isn’t her youngersister more attractive? Take her instead.’”
    3. 3. Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5
    4. 4. Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5“Samson said to them, ‘This time I have a right to geteven with the Philistines; I will really harm them.’ 4 Sohe went out and caught three hundred foxes and tiedthem tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch toevery pair of tails, 5 lit the torches and let the foxesloose in the standing corn of the Philistines. He burnedup the shocks and standing corn, together with thevineyards and olive groves.”
    5. 5. Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take revenge on Philistines, v. 6
    6. 6. Judges 15:6“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 andher father to death.”
    7. 7. Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take revenge on Philistines, v. 6• Samson takes revenge on Philistines, vv. 7-8
    8. 8. Judges 15:7-8“He attacked them viciouslyand slaughtered many of them.Then he went down and stayedin a cave in the rock of Etam.”
    9. 9. Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take revenge on Philistines, v. 6• Samson takes revenge on Philistines, vv. 7-8• Philistines make war on Israel, vv. 9-10
    10. 10. Judges 15:9-10“The Philistines went up and camped in Judah,spreading out near Lehi.10 The people of Judah asked, ‘Why have youcome to fight us?’‘We have come to take Samson prisoner,’ theyanswered, ‘to do to him as he did to us.’”
    11. 11. Judges 15:11-13Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in therock of Etam and said to Samson, ‘Don’t you realise that thePhilistines 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 tothe 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 youover to them. We will not kill you.’So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from therock.
    12. 12. Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take revenge on Philistines, v. 6• Samson takes revenge on Philistines, vv. 7-8• Philistines make war on Israel, vv. 9-10• Samson uses this to overcome the Philistines,vv. 11-17
    13. 13. “As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came towardshim shouting. The Spirit of the LORD camepowerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms becamelike charred flax, and the bindings dropped from hishands.15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, hegrabbed it and struck down a thousand men.16 Then Samson said,17 When he finished speaking, hethrew away the jawbone;and the place was called Ramath Lehi.”
    14. 14. So what do you makeof such violence?!• Samson’s a man of his age• The editor is demonstrating moral, political &spiritual decline of the period• Sovereignty of God controls situation• God may make a man his ‘tool’ quite apartfrom the quality of life of the individual• Israel is on a critical path … but not far alongit!
    15. 15. The permanent value of Judges …• God is Righteous• God is Sovereign• God is gracious & long-suffering• Fallen heroes highlight the importance of faith(Heb. 11)
    16. 16. Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take revenge on Philistines, v. 6• Samson takes revenge on Philistines, vv. 7-8• Philistines make war on Israel, vv. 9-10• Samson uses this to overcome the Philistines, vv.11-17• It was the act of an (extra)‘ordinary’ man, vv. 18-20
    17. 17. Judges 15:18-19Because he was very thirsty, he cried out tothe LORD, ‘You have given your servant this greatvictory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into thehands 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 herevived.So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is stillthere in Lehi.”
    18. 18. Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take revenge on Philistines, v. 6• Samson takes revenge on Philistines, vv. 7-8• Philistines make war on Israel, vv. 9-10• Samson uses this to overcome the Philistines, vv.11-17• It was the act of an (extra)‘ordinary’ man, vv. 18-20
    19. 19. Judges 15• Introduction• Philistines give offence, vv. 1-2• Samson takes offence at Philistines, vv. 3-5• Philistines take revenge on Philistines, v. 6• Samson takes revenge on Philistines, vv. 7-8• Philistines make war on Israel, vv. 9-10• Samson uses this to overcome the Philistines, vv.11-17• It was the act of an (extra)‘ordinary’ man, vv. 18-20• Conclusion
    20. 20. The heroes of Hebrews 11“I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah,about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faithconquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what waspromised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of theflames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turnedto strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreignarmies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Therewere others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that theymight gain an even better resurrection.36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains andimprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawn intwo; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins andgoatskins, destitute, persecuted and ill-treated – 38 the world was notworthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in cavesand in holes in the ground.39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of themreceived what had been promised, 40 since God had plannedsomething better for us so that only together with us would theybe made perfect.

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