Vs. 3, “Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” Suspense ensues as Samson returns to Timnah to begin his new marriage with his Philistine wife (vs. 1-3). However, her father assumed that Samson’s anger upon leaving the wedding feast was an obvious indicator he wanted nothing with this marriage. Though chosen as a judge/deliverer, Samson takes upon personal revenge (vs. 4-8). The results were devastation to the crops, Samson’s wife and father-in-law burned to death, and many Philistines slaughtered. But the story of conflict does not end as the Philistines send an entourage of men to bring revenge upon Samson (vs. 9-14). Samson is hiding in cave in Judah, so the men of Judah try to prevent any more carnage by succumbing to the Philistines in handing Samson over to them. Samson has no intention of surrender as he takes an unclean jawbone of a donkey (against Nazirite vow) and slaughters a thousand men (vs. 15). Though reminiscent of Shamgar defeating six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad to help save Israel (Judges 3:31), Samson is not saving God’s people, but taking revenge. Even Samson’s victory chant (vs. 16) has no mention of brining glory to God. The LORD graciously hears Samson’s cry for mercy and provides water (vs. 18-19) as he did for the Israelites in the desert (Exodus 17, Numbers 20). The ending (vs. 20) has an interestingly negative tone as Samson led, but in the days of the Philistines.
Regarding application…God’s Will. Vs. 14, “As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands.” Other than the first judge Othniel, God has been faithful to Israel despite the flaws of the judges/deliverers. If the LORD was not working behind the scenes, Israel would not even be in a situation of hope. God’s will cannot be deterred. In our present age, the church has had many enemies. In many ways, it’s a miracle that it has continued to last two millennia. But God’s faithfulness has endured even in the flaws of others. We are more like Samson than we would like to admit. There are times of selfishness and ulterior motives that govern our actions. Let us soberly consider the path we are headed and redirect our lives if necessary. May the Lord’s will be done in our life!