BLESSING EQUALS SACRIFICE
11. So 3,000 men of Judah went down to get Samson at the cave in the rock of Etam. They said to Samson, “Don’t you realize the Philistines rule over us? What are you doing to us?”
But Samson replied, “I only did to them what they did to me.”
12. But the men of Judah told him, “We have come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”
“All right,” Samson said. “But promise that you won’t kill me yourselves.”
13. “We will only tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines,” they replied. “We won’t kill you.” So they tied him up with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.
Judges 15:11–13 NLT
Alright, I’ve already mentioned that I Love The Story of Sampson, but I’ve never really examined why I love this story. However, as I reviewed Today’s Passage, another seemingly innocuous Passage in which nothing pertinent happens, I began to understand my attraction to this narrative.
As a writer, I’m drawn like a bee to pollen toward the little difficulties in life, the modest bits of strain and pressure that create diamonds. In those decisive, indispensable moments of pain and struggle, we find our Strength and discover our ability to persevere. How could I not be drawn to moments like these?
As you read through Today’s Passage, you may have no idea from where a Lesson may stem, but there is something significant happening in this Passage that some of you may have missed. So, as we study Verse 11, let me show you what God Revealed to me this morning.
Sampson has just murdered a bunch of Philistines after they burnt his wife and her family to death, then he took refuge in the mountains. When the Philistines came to Israel to find him, not knowing where to look, they set up camp in Israel and demanded they turn him over to them.
What happened next is telling. The Israelites did not simply tell the occupying Philistines where Sampson was, which they clearly knew. Instead, they went to him themselves to try and apprehend him. That leads me to believe that they had at least a modicum of respect for Sampson and his position, despite the compromising position he’d put them all in.
The men of Israel did display some esteem toward Sampson, but was it exhibited out of respect or fear? And if it was fear, how would we determine the difference? In answer to that question, I would offer this. Who sends 3000 men to ask for one man’s surrender if you aren’t preparing for a fight?
The Israelites knew where Sampson was and could easily have just told the Philistines where his location was and let them go and try to capture him themselves. But to take a man like Sampson, you’d imagine there might have been a bit of discussion about exactly how to get him to come quietly.
They’d have known what the Philistines did to incur Sampson’s wrath and betraying him to the Philistines would be no different than what had set him off in the first place. If Sampson thought his own people had given him up, what might he do to them once he found out?
Besides that, what if they ratted him out, and he did to the assaulting Philistines what he did to the last batch? Then he’d know it was the Israelites who sent them, and there was no telling what he’d do then. It was safer to simply go and do it themselves. Or was it?
The Israelites were playing politics with Sampson’s life. They weighed his potential wrath against the occupation of the Philistines, divided by the potential of Sampson’s unrivaled fury levied toward them. The solution for them would not have been an easy one.
Sampson could have run through those 3000 Israelite men as easily as he’d gone through the Philistines, and they all knew it. The Israelites were taking their lives in their hands; otherwise, they’d never have taken that many men. They were preparing for a fight.
But Sampson’s response was just as illuminating regarding his attitude and character as was the Israelites. Sampson didn’t fight back; he didn’t even argue his side. All he asked was that his own fellow citizens didn’t kill him before they sent him to his captors. That’s it.
Sampson didn’t beg; he didn’t cry; he didn’t reason or even fight back. All he did was to ensure he would arrive alive. His claim of retaliation was justified, but he didn’t bother to vindicate himself. Sampson could see the writing on the wall. His time had come; there was no reason to destroy the very people he was sent to protect.
Therin lies Today’s Lesson. As self-centered and rebellious as Sampson was as a Judge of Israel, he still understood his Assignment. He was a Judge over Israel, assigned to destroy the heavy yolk of oppression of the Philistines. The last thing he was going to do was kill his own people. Even for Sampson, that was a step too far.
Sampson was fully capable of rending every one of the accosting Israelites limb from limb the same way he did the Philistines. But even given their intention to turn him in, he still allowed them to bind and capture him. Why? Because even though he wasn’t sold out to it, Sampson knew and respected his Assignment.
Sampson may have been a murderer, but he was at least justified in his actions by God’s Will. Don’t forget what it says in Verse 4 of Chapter 14; this was all due to God’s Prompting. Sampson just screwed up his part by following his unbridled passions. For once, though, he made the right decision.
God Chooses who He wants, but we can certainly screw up His Plans by injecting our own motivations. He’ll always turn our efforts around to benefit His Strategy, but we can lose our Blessing in the process. There is no telling what kind of impact Sampson could have made if he’d been open to God’s Plan. He could have ended the Philistine threat once and for all, but he was too focused on his own desires.
When God Calls us, we have a choice to make. Will you follow Him, denying your desires, or will you squander His Favor and use it for yourself? The consequences of that kind of selfishness are the loss of your Blessing and the potential failure of the Assignment.
Bottom line: it takes Sacrifice to Follow God’s Call. Do you have what it takes to deny yourself to get your Blessing? If not, you should continue reading the Story of Sampson. There are a few things you may want to learn before you make any decisions you end up regretting!
Have a Marvelous Monday And Remember, If We’re God’s Hands, We Gotta Keep Em Clear, Or Risk Staining His Perfection!