The Bible’s Most Confusing Passages – Judges 19 – The Levite and His Concubine

This is the first post in a series of discussions on what I perceive to be the the most confusing passages in Scripture.  I will post an abridged version of the passage.  Then l will link an example of an interpretation I believe to be misguided, and then offer my interpretation in response in an attempt to accurately unpack the Scripture’s intent.

Judges 19

A Levite and His Concubine

In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite was sojourning in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, who took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. And his concubine was unfaithful to him, and she went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there some four months. Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back. . . . when the girl’s father saw him, he came with joy to meet him. And his father-in-law, the girl’s father, made him stay . . . 10 He rose up and departed and arrived opposite [Jerusalem]. . . . [He said,] “We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners, who do not belong to the people of Israel, but we will pass on to Gibeah.” . . .15 And he went in and sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.

16 And behold, an old man . . .was sojourning in Gibeah. . . . 17 And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city. And the old man said, “Where are you going? And where do you come from?”18 And he said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, from which I come. I went to Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to the house of the Lord, but no one has taken me into his house. . . . 20 And the old man said, “Peace be to you; I will care for all your wants. Only, do not spend the night in the square.” . . .22 As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” 23 And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. . . . 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26 And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.

27 And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, . . .28  and the man rose up and went away to his home. 29 And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. 30 And all who saw it said, “Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day;consider it, take counsel, and speak.”

Here is a link to a self-proclaimed feminist interpretation whose thesis is “conflict between males is solved by the sacrifice of females,” which I believe misrepresents the significance of the events. Here is another, whose thesis is “when men are wicked, women suffer” that doesn’t truly get to the heart of the text.  (***NOTE: I am not insensitive to the concerns of these authors, but I find their interpretations fall short of pointing all glory to Christ, and extending the greater hope and healing that is found only in Him.***)

Here is what I believe the text is actually communicating…

In the days of the Judges great wickedness persisted because moral relativism (“everyone did what was right in their own eyes”) prevailed, and “the people had no king to lead them.”  Unlike the interpretation linked above, in the story of the Levite and his concubine, it becomes evident that the Levite is not the evil antagonist, but a righteous man.  The Levite shows himself merciful and patient toward his unfaithful covenant partner.  The author of Judges communicates that the Levite is long-suffering and slow to anger in waiting 4 months for the woman to return.  When she does not return he sets out to allure her home.  Under Torah Law the punishment for the concubine’s unfaithfulness is death, but in love and mercy the Levite sets out to speak lovingly to her and implore her to return.  Further, the Levite is proven noble in that he is looked upon, not with disdain but with respect, by the woman’s father.  In ancient Israelite society, a concubine was not necessarily a sex slave, but a woman from a lower social class who enters into a covenant relationship for the promise of provision and a better life.  While concubines did not have the same status as wives, they were to be well treated (Exodus 21:7-10), provided for as family, and this particular Levite is specifically designated as this concubine’s “husband” (Judges 19:3, 20:4).  This woman’s father is referred to as the man’s “father-in-law” (Judges 19:9).

The concubine is not the protagonist of the story, but the perpetrator of offense who’s unfaithfulness has led the Levite into this dilemma.  Having been convinced to return home with the Levite, the concubine and her partner begin traveling back to their home in Ephraim.  However, because the woman’s father has delayed them they are forced to lodge in Gibeah.  Gibeah is a city of fellow Israelites, and the Levite shows himself further righteous by rejecting the easier option of stopping short of Gibeah, but instead chooses to honor the Law’s command that he not take the company of the Gentiles.  The couple instead presses on to a city of fellow Israelites who, as God’s people, are expected to take care of them.  Rather than graciously host the Levite and his concubine, these Israelites of Gilbeah demand to have sex with the Levite, and ultimately take the concubine and rape and kill her.  It is the concubine’s rebellion against her covenant caretaker (and distant venturing from the couple’s home) that has landed the two of them in this wicked place. It is by the concubine’s sin that she finds herself in the horrific circumstances in which she pays the horrible consequence of her unfaithfulness.  While the Levite is a righteous man, he will not go out to endure the consequence of the unfaithful concubine’s action.  It is not for the faithful Levite to suffer in the place of the unfaithful concubine.  The Levite is not to be her Savior. In this case, the righteous does not die in the place of the unrighteous.

In anguish and disgust with the wickedness of the men of Gilbeah, the Levite divides the dead concubine into twelve pieces and sends them to the twelve tribes of Israel so that his anger, grief, and disgust will be known throughout the entire land.  The author’s intent is to communicate the vileness and lawlessness of the Israelites in this time, and their desperate need for the direction of a king.  Further, like the Levite’s rebellious partner, all men (you and I) have been unfaithful to our Covenant Creator in heaven.  While rape is horrific and condemnable, and everyone should be disturbed and angered by the horrible fate of the concubine,the story is not recorded to detail the mistreatment of women in patriarchal societies, or to detail the brokenness of the Levite.  The events are recorded to depict the atrocious depth of the consequences of breaking a covenant, and to demonstrate that no ordinary man can die in the place of the covenant breaker.  Genesis 15:10 and 17 demonstrate the ancient practice of making covenants by dividing an animal.  Then both parties passed between the severed carcass. This symbolized the seriousness of their intentions in that the divided carcasses represented what would happen to them if they were not faithful to their oath.  This is symbolized in the fate of the concubine.

Fortunately as Christ followers, we are not a people without a king; we have a King and his name is Jesus.  He has shown us the Way, and has shown us what is right.  We have not been left to fend for ourselves, each doing whatever is right in our own eyes.  Jesus, like the Levite, has sought out His bride (the Church), implored us to return, and forgiven us.  Where the Levite failed to die for his unfaithful partner, Jesus did step outside the camp to brutally suffer in our place.  Christ, the fully righteous Son of God, stepped out in our stead to take the punishment that we deserved; to suffer once, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us back to God.  This concubine does not represent women who suffer at the hands of men, but she represents all mankind rebelling against God in a fallen world.  We are the concubine (the covenant partner of poor estate and lower standing), welcomed into the provision of God, loved as family, but rebelling against our Covenant Creator, and running back to our former life.  We must cease the unfaithfulness and rebellion and return home to our righteous and loving Caretaker.  He is merciful and faithful to forgive, and He is calling us to turn from our folly, to leave the land of the wicked (which places us in peril and holds our destruction), and to return home with Him.  He has already died at the hands of vile lawless men so that (if we will stand under His protection) we will not have to suffer the fate of the covenant breaker.

If you enjoyed this discussion of difficult Scripture, you might also enjoy my other post about the Top 5 Most Misquoted, Misused, and Misunderstood Bible Verses.

Chad W. Hussey is an average Jesus loving iconoclastic non-conformist neighborhood hope dealer – a husband, father, urban missionary, community group leader, Master of Divinity student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Community Life Intern at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY.

Chad W. Hussey

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1 Corinthians 6:9

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)”

Sadly, I must confess, before coming to Christ I was guilty of more of these sins than I like to admit. I was guilty of quite a few of them. When you consider idolatry (the making of anything in your life a higher priority than God), that any sex outside of marriage is sexual immorality, and that divorce, biblically, is adultery, this passage has convicted a great majority of people in the Body of Christ at some point in our past. Further, according to this passage, not one of these sins is more condemnable than another. Sadly, some of us treat these sins as if one were worse than all the rest. These sins are equal according to this passage. Others of us don’t want these acts labeled as sins at all. Still the Word of God says what it says, and regardless of anyone’s heart in the issue, Christ followers are subject to the authority of the Bible. I myself have stood alongside every person guilty of any of these acts as a sinner unworthy of God’s love. I recognize that on my own I am no different. I do not hold myself in higher regard than ANYONE, and as the Apostle Paul said, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” What I want to express is that by my belief in the Bible and my love for Christ I do not hate anyone nor do I believe I have any more right to Christ, or life and liberty for that mattter, than anyone else. People who know me, know my heart in this matter, and my LGBT friends can attest to the depth of our relationships and the genuine love and compassion that we share for one another. At the end of the day, what I know most clearly is that we are all sinners and all desperately need Jesus. That is the only message I’m called to deliver.

The good news, I found, and that I want to extend to everyone, is that immediately following the passage above (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) is verse 11: “And such were some of you [members of the Corinthian church]. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

What verse 11 illustrates is that many members of the Corinthian church, were formerly idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers, etc., and they were all worshiping and serving together in the church, and accepted and loved by God. They were people who were saved and sanctified by Christ. Maybe all of the sin I’ve committed makes me more compassionate. I don’t know. Christ says, “he who is forgiven little loves little.” Maybe that means “he who is forgiven much loves much.” Perhaps that’s me. But perhaps that should also be all Christians. The Bible is clear that no people, on their own merit, are worthy of God. But the Bible is also clear God’s love and saving grace are available to anyone who would take hold of them and look to the cross. Every last one of us are sinners in need of the savior Jesus Christ. Not one of us in the Church is at liberty to deny anyone access to the cross or the gift of repentance. We are not called to badger, or hate, or condemn anyone, but to be light in the world. Our calling is to be like Christ, to engage, love and embrace sinners, to encourage all people to receive the gospel, and to help every person develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. We must understand that the sanctification of individuals is not our work, but is the progressive work of God in the hearts of each person as we engage Christ in His Word. My hope is simply that we would all bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Be kind, love people, point them to Jesus, and let God work.

Nonbelief is Not a Failure to Believe in God, but in Depravity – Just a Thought

The more I talk about Christ with others the more I’m made acutely aware that our society’s hang up with faith is not at all a failure to believe in God. Nearly all people acknowledge, or are at least open to, the existence of God. Where our culture stumbles is in believing in personal depravity. We can all recognize that we have fallen far short of perfection, that we sometimes make poor choices, and that we sometimes hurt others. But we refuse (and adamantly do not want) to believe that these imperfect and hurtful actions are sins, that they are wicked, and that place us in rebellion to God. By failing to believe that our own wicked decisions and actions have placed us at odds with our creator, we can see no need for salvation, and no necessity for a Savior.

MAKE WAR!!!

Much to my surprise I recently discovered that Tedashii, my favorite Christian rapper, actually studied under my pastor, Mitch Maher.  Tedashii’s lyrics are impressive, holding strictly to sound Bible doctrine.  Tedashii will be headlining the NGEN Boomin’ concert on Tuesday, August 6 in Houston, and I encourage everyone to come out and see the show with me.  He has an excellent catalogue of music, and has reached as high as #2 on the Billboard Gospel Chart, and #9 on the Billboard Christian Chart.  Additionally, the KSBJ/NGEN concerts are excellent, and the KSBJ Birthday Concert earlier this year was an absolute blast.

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

Romans 8:13  For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

In the song “Make War” Tedashii does very well to espouse the desperate need for believers to aggressively make war with the sin in our lives.  The song was inspired by a sermon from pastor and author John Piper, in which he said:

“I hear so many Christians murmuring about their imperfections and their failures and their addictions and their short-comings, And I see so little war! ‘Murmur, murmur, murmur… Why am I this way?’ MAKE WAR!”

See the song with lyrics below (I strongly suggest reading them):

“My heart, my passion, my desire is that we would have men who would fight sin, and at the end of the day, produce other men like them in discipleship.” -Tedashii

The John Piper sermon mentioned above was inspired by a famous teaching by English Puritan Theologian John Owen in which he said, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” 

It can be all to easy to fall into the snare of downplaying the danger of sin. Conversely, the necessity of uprooting and completelely killing sin can not be emphasized enough. Often times when aspiring to overcome our afflictions we compartmentalize or don’t go the full measure in addressing our issues. Sadly we often leave ways for our sin to somehow find it’s way back in the door. So many kings of the Old Testament did what was right in the sight of the LORD and yet failed to remove the high places where the sacrifices were made to idol gods. Each time this led to the people of Israel eventually falling back into the old rituals of sacrifice at the high places – straying from God – returning to their old idols. This is symbolically similar to how, you and I, while striving to honor God, often fail to remove every last opportunity to return to our sin. We must be fully dedicated to completely removing all areas for temptation so that once we overcome a sin we are done with it once and for all. Like cancer we must remove every last remnant so that we will never be afflicted by the illness again.

Hopefully I will see many of you at the NGEN Boomin’ show, and we will all be inspired to make war with our sin! MAKE WAR!!!

Fearing the Lord?

Question:  I’m not sure exactly what “Fearing the Lord” means.  On your blog you speak a little on fearing the Lord but not in depth. What are your thoughts?

Many people in our generation believe that fear of the Lord simply means respect.  The liberal, feel good theology of the last 50 years has been heavily focused on grace and mercy, and has widely espoused the “God is love” slogan.  It is absolutely true that it is by God’s grace alone that we are saved, and it is also absolutely true that God is love.  However, an over emphasis of the “God is love” maxim fails to acknowledge that God has many characteristics of which loving, merciful, and graceful are just a few.  God is also, equally just – meaning He absolutely cannot allow sin to go unpunished, jealous – meaning He is angered by any desire of man to put other things ahead of Him, and is also wrathful (Nahum 1:2).  The combination of all of God’s traits is what makes God what He ultimately is:  above all, and in all things, God is Holy, Holy, Holy (Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8).  In the Hebrew language, a word repeated 3 times is the equivalent of 3 exclamation points in English.  Read: God is HOLY!!!  The Bible never says God is love, love, love…or merciful, merciful, merciful.

God IS love.  I want to preface that this is absolutely true, and God’s love is by no means being debated.  God is actually the creator of love and the origin of true agape (Greek for unconditional covenant love).   Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8).  Just remember, God is not only love.  God also has other characteristics that should be respected, and feared, in the literal sense of the word fear.

The word fear appears in the Bible 216 times from Genesis to Revelation.  Many times the word fear appears alongside the word trembling.  The first time fear and trembling appear is in Exodus, and the last time is in Philippians.

Phillipians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

If you believe fear means respect…I suppose if your respect takes you to the point of physical trembling…then that is the appropriate respect owed to God by the command of the verse above.  But, trembling – defined as involuntary shaking as a result of anxiety and frailty – indicates to me that proper knowledge of the LORD provokes literal fear.

Isaiah’s guilt is forgiven by the seraphim.

Look at the experience of any Biblical character who comes into the presence of God.  Every one of them, upon first realization, falls straight down on their face and/or cries out that they are sinful and unworthy.  Take for instance Isaiah, the holiest man in lsrael: (Isaiah 6:5) Isaiah said: “Woe is me! For I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!.”  He breaks down and comes completely unglued in the presence of God simply because he has a dirty mouth.  Then in the New Testament when Christ asks Simon Peter to follow Him, Peter falls down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5:8).”  Then, in revelation when the Spirit raises John (the one whom Jesus loved) to see the risen Christ, John says, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead (Revelation 1:17).  These are just a few examples…there are dozens more.   The holiest of men fall to pieces at the feet of the LORD.

I once started working on a fire and brimstone sermon by Jesus.  That may sound like an oxymoron to some, and may perhaps even offend others.  I went about the task of compiling Christ’s every reference to judgment, hell, and condemnation.  My intent was to offer a demonstration that Jesus Christ did indeed preach fire and brimstone.  I am acquainted with many people who have a strong aversion to hell, fire, and brimstone preaching, however I find it to be very important (in limited application), and believe there is a necessary balance between teaching grace, wrath, and every other personality trait of God.  After spending several hours compiling many pages of condemning Jesus quotes I decided that what I was doing was a dangerous thing.  After praying on it, and seeing how condemning the collection of verses was, I came to the conclusion that perhaps pulling Jesus’ verses out of their original context could misrepresent Him.  That’s not a risk I want to take.  The point of the matter is however, that Jesus did preach extensively on judgment and wrath.  When you cut out the narrative and the softening analogies of the parables, and you merely examine the references and allusions to hell, death, and condemnation, it is exceedingly clear that, with absolute certainty, there will be harsh judgment (Matthew 25:41), the majority of people will burn in hell (Matthew 7:14), and there will be tremendous sorrow (weeping and gnashing of teeth – appears 7 times).  We must present the LORD, unvarnished, for all the things His Word declares He is…not just the traits that work for us, that make us feel good, that make us like Him more, or that don’t scare us.  It is terrible folly to attempt to fit God within parameters that we dictate.  Excluding wrath from our doctrine does not eliminate the wrath of God (“wrath” appears 215 times in the Bible) – rather it merely eliminates it from our consciousness.  Prayerfully ponder the implications and consequences of that.

Christ said, “Fear not man who has the ability to kill the body.  I shall tell you whom you should fear.  Fear Him who after the body has been killed has the authority to cast you into hell (Luke 12:5).”  The context of fear being expressed here is fear in the sense of suffering a violent death at the hands of another man.  I don’t know what earthly fear could be any more fearsome than the fear of a violent death (think of being stoned to death for preaching the gospel as Steven the martyr was – Acts 7:54).  Jesus instructs here that the only fear greater than being brutally killed should be the fear of hell.  This doesn’t sound like Jesus is talking about respect.  I don’t think He’s saying we respect death so we should respect Him.  I think our natural instinct is to be terrified of death, and Jesus is saying here:  Fear Me more!  I can cast you into a violent, torturous Hell, the likes of which you cannot even fathom.

It is also important that we not fall into depending solely on the New Testament to define who the LORD is.  Jesus Christ and the Father God are united in one essence, and Christ himself says that He is subservient to the will of the Father (John 6:38).  Christ did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world (John 3:17).  However, Christ does clearly exhort that all must follow His teaching, or condemnation is coming for those who do not submit their lives to His service. If you read the Old Testament, where the Father God is the main character, you witness dozens of instances where the immutable, unchanging, LORD, annihilates all who would rebel and put anything ahead of Him.  We must remember Jesus Christ and God the Father are one and the same God in the Holy Trinity.  God does not change.  He was perfect from the beginning, and it is not possible to change or improve upon perfection.  He is not a God who is growing, learning, becoming more progressive, inclusive, or open minded.  He has not improved upon His perfection since His Old Testament days.  No.  God is unchanged.  Therefore, we must understand God is still the same sovereign God who punishes treason and administers wrath to rebels.  Non-believers, those not secure in salvation, unrepentant sinners, and those lukewarm in their subservience to Christ have much to fear.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Even believers would be wise to understand the Bible has drastic promises for those who believe in Christ, but fail to repent and turn to God, to ask forgiveness, and to strive to conquer sin within our lives…

Hebrews 10:27 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. 28Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”And again, “The LORD will judge His People.”

31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

We cannot varnish the truth of God’s character.  A focus solely citing portions of the Bible that portray the Lord as “gentle Jesus meek and mild,” does not eliminate the mass of scripture that promises coming judgment and wrath for the non-believer, the self-righteous, and the unrepentant sinner.   I implore everyone, get to know Jesus Christ as the lamb.  He came to the world as a lamb to serve and suffer the punishment of His followers’ sin – offering forgiveness in His kindness and compassion.  When we give the LORD control He is quick to forgive.  When we reject the LORD we bring His wrath upon ourselves.

Now is the time to get right with the Lord.  He has extended the invitations.  A day will come when that invitation will no longer stand.  Christ has promised that when He returns He is not coming back as a lamb, but he is coming as a lion (Revelation 5:5).  When He returns He will not come to serve or suffer.  He will come to judge the quick and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1).

Psalm 2:11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son,  lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.  Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

 

Chad W. Hussey is an average Jesus loving iconoclastic non-conformist neighborhood hope dealer – a husband, father, urban missionary, community group leader, Master of Divinity student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Community Life Intern at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY.

Chad W. Hussey

You’re Just Like Samson?

There are strong allegorical similarities between Samson, the nation of Israel, and Christians today. You may be surprised to find that we are all quite a bit more like the temperamental, wildly violent, Old Testament anti-hero than we realize…or would like to admit.

Samson rips a lion in half with his bare hands

The story of Samson is found in Judges 13-16, and takes place during a time when God was punishing the Israelites – giving them into the hand of their enemy, the Philistines. While pregnant, Samson’s mother was told by an angel that her child was going to be set apart for God’s purpose. Samson’s parents, being faithful and God-fearing, honored the LORD’s instruction and raised Samson as a Nazirite, a Jew especially dedicated to the LORD. God gave Samson amazing strength, by his hair, and he was to be the beginning of Israel’s deliverance from the oppression of the Philistines.

However, when Samson became an adult he went astray. He operated completely independent of God, hardly acknowledging God’s existence. He became arrogant, overly confident in his own ability and his physical prominence over men.

Samson slays a Philistine with the jawbone of a donkey

Now, the Jews had long been instructed that they should be a people set apart – consecrated to God. They were expressly forbidden to intermingle with their pagan neighbors or engage in their sinful practices. However, Samson, showing no regard for God’s demands fell deeply in love multiple times with Philistine women.

This infatuation of Samson with the Philistine women is a literal manifestation of the attraction we all have to the beautiful monster that is sin. Sin demonstrates in Samson’s story that it is beautiful, sexy, sweet, and alluring. Sin also demonstrates in Samson’s story that it is powerful and dangerous – easily capable of overcoming even the strongest of men. Over and over Samson is fooled by the wicked Philistine women, and over and over the desires of his heart lead him into peril.

What is represented in Samson’s love for these women is that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremaiah 17:9). It is sick and can not be understood or trusted. The heart of every person is deceiving and these deceits choke out the Word of God, and cause us to stray from the faith. The Bible instructs that we are to lean not on our own understanding, but to submit our lives to the Lord, and put our dependence in Him.

Delilah shaves Samson’s head as he sleeps

Ultimately Samson’s chasing his desires leads Him far from God and to his ruin. His Philistine lover, Delilah, pressures him into sharing the secret of his strength and then cuts off his hair leaving him weak and betrayed. He is then turned over as captive to the Philistines who gouge out his eyes and put him in shackles. In all of this, Samson becomes literally blind, weak, betrayed, alone, and enslaved.

The story of Samson is an allegory for the Old Testament nation of Israel and is incredibly similar to the plight of Christ’s Church, and the struggle of many Christians today. The nation of Israel in the Old Testament, and the Christian body today, are strong, independent, and long set apart for God. However, Israel was, and Christians now are, constantly backsliding, proudly following the sinful desires of the human heart, seeking to delight in revelry with unrighteous pagan neighbors, and consistently disregarding God’s instruction. This has consistently led people away from God and into adulterous and idolatrous pursuits, which, as in Samson’s story, end in spiritual blinding, weakness, loneliness, enslavement to the enemy (sin), and ultimately death.

But there is redemption in this story. Samson, blind and imprisoned is broken by the LORDs discipline made manifest in his life. By this, Samson’s self-righteous spirit is broken and Samson develops a repentant heart. Samson then puts his dependence on God. Samson’s hair begins to grow back, and as his hair was symbolic of the strength of God in him, so too was his hair growing back symbolic of the growth of his relationship with the LORD. At the final feast when Samson is brought out to perform for the Philistines celebrating his capture, Samson finally clearly “sees” God as the source of his strength and deliverance.  The LORD grants Samson’s final prayer, giving him the strength to glorify God in destroying the temple and killing his Philistine persecutors.

Samson destroys the temple of Dagon

The final portion of this story is symbolic of how The LORD breaks the spirit of the proud and self-righteous.  He makes the blind see (Exodus 4:11).  He delights in the repentant and contrite sinner.   He heals the broken hearted.  He strengthens those who place their faith in Him.  He releases those bound from imprisonment, and the LORD has His day of vengeance over the wicked (Isaiah 61).

So, maybe we are all a little more like Samson than we realize. Where are you at in your Samson story?

If you enjoyed this discussion from the book of Judges, you might also enjoy my other post about the The Levite and His Concubine – Judges 19.

Chad W. Hussey is an average Jesus loving iconoclastic non-conformist neighborhood hope dealer – a husband, father, urban missionary, community group leader, Master of Divinity student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Community Life Intern at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY.

Chad W. Hussey

Fallin’

As a means to demonstrate the riches of His love and mercy to me, the LORD recently permitted the devil to extend his hand to tempt me.  I found myself confronted with an old familiar foe.  As Jesus, starving in the desert, demonstrated by rejecting the devil’s temptation of a loaf of bread, sin on its surface does not always appear a bad thing.  Sometimes on the surface the devil, in his powers of deceit, makes sin appear not only enticing, but healthy, as if it is something for our good.  However, when anything comes with the devil’s temptation, or leads to a dark place, it becomes deadly.  By the intercession of the Holy Spirit we receive the discernment of good and evil, and I recognized the devil at work deep in the chambers of my mind.  Fearing my flesh is weak, and knowing my thoughts were betraying me, I turned faithfully to the LORD and cried out in prayer.  I pleaded He deliver me from this temptation and that He keep me far from the evil one.  

This experience is so well represented by Trip Lee in one of my favorite songs, “Fallin'”

In a demonstration of His awesomeness, later the very same day, the LORD brought about events that caused this temptation to turn and flee from me. This was not by any work of my own, as I failed in mustering the strength to make war with this sin.  This was His answer to my prayer.  It was amazing to watch the hand of the LORD at work in my life as the Spirit delivered me from the old familiar snare…just as the Word tells us He will.  It was something spectacularly touching for my heart to witness, and I pray you will experience and recognize the same loving acts of the LORD in your own walk.  

Being reborn, does not mean we are now perfect.  All Christians still struggle with sin, but we no longer have to face temptation alone.  We must recognize our fallen nature and our inability to live righteously apart from the Lord.  It is by vain conceit we are deceived in thinking we can overcome sin and wickedness on our own.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).  The Lord loves when we raise our struggles in prayer.  He longs for us to come to Him with a broken spirit and place our dependence on Him.  When we do this, He will deliver us from evil, for He is a God of tremendous love and great mercy!  And, when we do fail, if we turn to Him in true repentance, acknowledging our need for his guidance over our life, He is quick to forgive.  May the Lord bless you, and keep, you and hold you in the palm of His hand…far from the temptations of the evil one.

Phillipians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His namesake.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No Temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Pilgrim’s Progress

The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come is a Christian allegory written by Puritan author John Bunyan in 1678. Bunyan had little education, but his novel is regarded as one of the most significant works of Christian Literature.  Pilgrim’s Progress is the second most popular book of all time (#1 being the Bible).  The story follows the journey a Christian goes through on the path to deliverance.  Below is the modern movie adaptation released in 2008.

Bunyan wrote this novel based on a dream he had while imprisoned for holding religious services outside of the Church of England.  The Church of England along with the Roman Catholic Church spent many years oppressing and executing Protestant Christian Reformers who sought to separate the government rule from the church, reform unbiblical traditions and church doctrines, and make the Bible available to every man to read.

Jesus Wants the Rose

Life has a way of corrupting us.  I post this because it speaks to me…

I was that rose. In every way. Completely corrupted. It is such a joy to serve a God who is so patient and loving, and that actually, in His mercy, desires to sanctify me, equip me, and use me to represent Him. I am so humbled I hardly feel worthy…and yet he calls me.

Luke 5 20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

John 8 11 And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Luke 5 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”