English Standard Version, Max McLean Audio Bible
1 Samson went to Gaza, and there he saw a prostitute, and he went in to her. 2 The Gazites were told, “Samson has come here.” And they surrounded the place and set an ambush for him all night at the gate of the city. They kept quiet all night, saying, “Let us wait till the light of the morning; then we will kill him.” 3 But Samson lay till midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts, and pulled them up, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is in front of Hebron.
4 After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 5 And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” 6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.”
7 Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 9 Now she had men lying in ambush in an inner chamber. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the bowstrings, as a thread of flax snaps when it touches the fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have mocked me and told me lies. Please tell me how you might be bound.” 11 And he said to her, “If they bind me with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And the men lying in ambush were in an inner chamber. But he snapped the ropes off his arms like a thread.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me how you might be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the web and fasten it tight with the pin, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.” 14 So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his head and wove them into the web [and fasten it tight . . . into the web ]. And she made them tight with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled away the pin, the loom, and the web.
15 And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.” 16 And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. 17 And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother's womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands. 19 She made him sleep on her knees. And she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. 21 And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison. 22 But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.” 24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god. For they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has killed many of us.” 25 And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars. 26 And Samson said to the young man who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the house was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there, and on the roof there were about 3,000 men and women, who looked on while Samson entertained.
28 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. 31 Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years.
Here is a cornerstone - Samson never had to struggle with indifference of others, false accusation, abandonment, his parents didn't have 8 sons - where he is considered least, he doesn't appear to have a pivotal situation of moral consequences trust into his life without his choice. Samson seems to have it all handed to him. And acts more like Goliath than David. One of the thoughts in this passage is trouble defines us in our choices. An unsought blessing.
Samson is a deeper dichotomy of government following man-made rules of hate, allowing a veneer of righteousness. He is the epitome of hate talk, hate actions given a place of authority. Giving the unsaved, an excuse of "The Crusades" to avoid knowing the Love of God. Giving the saved a chance to look at following blindly a hateful righteousness. Look for God to have a Spirit of Truthfulness with Mercy. Look at this passage again to see if God is plainly speaking or if it is a passage of man interpreting God to be just like them. God asks for holiness. This is the tangle of doing what feels right versus the holiness of God. It is what Judges became.
Samson's beginning - the announcement of God's plan for Samson from the angel of the Lord declares Samson to be a Nazirite.
The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the LORD as a Nazirite, 3 they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or other fermented drink. They must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. 4 As long as they remain under their Nazirite vow, they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.
5 “‘During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the LORD is over; they must let their hair grow long.
6 “‘Throughout the period of their dedication to the LORD, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body. 7 Even if their own father or mother or brother or sister dies, they must not make themselves ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of their dedication to God is on their head. 8 Throughout the period of their dedication, they are consecrated to the LORD.Because we have all fallen short of the glory of God, as sinners, it is the Lord's plan to interweave all things for good in His time and plan. Blending into Samson's victorious plan as a Judge of Israel, he sets out to marry a Philistine woman. In Judges 14, it is announced Samson is using this marriage to destroy Philistines. Samson takes too much pleasure in taunting the Philistine men. Samson discovers it hurts to be rejected even after self-centeredness edging towards sadism. Pride rears up when his father-in-law casually offers the younger sister in holy matrimony. Is one person just as easily exchanged for another? Hasn't Samson done the exact same thing in using his marriage as a ploy to destroy his enemies? Haven't other Biblical patriarchs had to work through the theft of a blessing? Like Jacob, God named Israel.
God had promised Samson a holy path, Samson's planning is the problem. Samson is trusting the untrustworthy perhaps in an attempt to say - he is trustworthy. Not all that bad deep down.
Samson tells Delilah if she hurts him, he will be just like any other man. A lot of times we set our selves apart - not for holiness - telling ourselves our situation is different than others. It is a cry Charlie Sheen uses. We are like every other person in this world, in a very aggrandized fashion - sometimes hurt, sometimes hurt-er.
A lot in this Scripture passage is difficult to fit precisely into our own lives. Yet there are some pretty profound truths. Hurting others, hurts us and sends us down a twisted path. Justice in life isn't swift, it isn't accurate and we usually find a way to almost justify to ourselves our own deeds. When we focus on what should be fair in life, using only our own judgment, our own wants - the path is not made straight. This path is Far from straight... God does not abandon Samson even in the midst of his self-destruction.
God's ways are Holy. We judge God to be like us. In this passage, God does not speak, but prayers are spoken to Him. Judges represents a time when people tried to govern themselves, but they were all doing what felt "right" to them. How does Samson truly perceive God Almighty to be different from Dagon - the Philistine god? Perhaps the Philistines and Samson had all met their match.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God
You shall serve the LORD your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you.
Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. (ESV)
Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. (NIV)
Father God, in blessings and in adversity, You have made them both. Help us not to seek revenge or dwell in grudges. Help us, Lord, to begin these attitudes and actions of love with our parents and continue it into our larger lives. Teach us each day to love others. Let Your light shine in us and drive out our darkness. In Your Grace we rest and not in our own goodness. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
How much easier in Jesus Christ to find a straight path, not trusting in ourselves to start a holy war. Allowing the judgement to come from God. Believing He will set His path before us to walk. Trusting in His grace.
2 Corinthians 5
English Standard Version, David Cochran Audio Bible
1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.