OUR THOUGHTS ARE NOT HIS THOUGHTS
1. One day Samson went to the Philistine town of Gaza and spent the night with a prostitute.
2. Word soon spread that Samson was there, so the men of Gaza gathered together and waited all night at the town gates. They kept quiet during the night, saying to themselves, “When the light of morning comes, we will kill him.”
3. But Samson stayed in bed only until midnight. Then he got up, took hold of the doors of the town gate, including the two posts, and lifted them up, bar and all. He put them on his shoulders and carried them all the way to the top of the hill across from Hebron.
Judges 16: 1–3 NLT
Have I mentioned before that I love The Story of Sampson? Yeah? Well, here’s another reason why. When I read the accounts of Sampson’s fetes, it triggers my imagination and creativity because of what is left out. It is one thing to report that Sampson caught 300 foxes and tied their tails together with torches in between. It is another thing entirely to comprehend it.
So, as we read Today’s Passage, I am again triggered both by what is in the Text and what is not. First, we must remember that Sampson is now a wanted man in the region, yet what do we find him doing? He is traveling in enemy territory, and for what? Is Sampson there to levy more punishment upon the Philistines for some slight against the Israelites?
Nope! Sampson is there to see a hooker. Okay, now I get that the only times Sampson had attacked the Philistines up till this point was when they triggered his ire. His only motivations seem to be sating his ungodly lusts. Yet he is still Judge, and he is still levying more damage on God’s enemies than at any time in the recent past.
That is where we’re going to Find Today’s First Lesson, and I’ve covered this one before. Just because God Calls you to a task, Qualifies you, and Offers you His Power to accomplish it, that doesn’t mean that we can’t screw it all up by injecting our own attitudes and sentiments into the mix.
And I think you can all imagine what happens when we think we know better than God. All you have to do is look at the lives of some of the Bible’s most Favored men to see how easily things can go off the rails.
Moses never got to see The Promised Land because of his willfulness. King David lost a son because of his hubris and lust. His son, King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived and one of the richest, died having lost his status with God by allowing his lusts to overcome his Wisdom! If it can happen to them, it can happen to us too!
We are no more capable of fighting off the whispers of our own longings than were they except for one additional Blessing; God’s Own Spirit within us! With that advantage, we can tap into God’s Infinite Energy to give us the boost our willpower may not be able to push past.
Sampson does not have the Benefit of The Holy Spirit to Guide his steps, and even if he did, I’m not sure he’d have utilized it. Sampson is a creature of defiance and pride, acting only on his desires, indifferent to the immorality of sex or violence, yet this is who God chose to use. Why?
Alright, even though I’m all about speculating about these Bible characters’ motivations and thought processes, I’m not about to try and fathom the Mind of God! That’s not my thing. God gave me the Gift of Imagination, but it’s not to try and figure Him out. It’s to tell His Story in a more intriguing way. That is why I pour over The Word. It never fails to inspire my imagination!
Anyway, back to The Story of Sampson, and in this episode, Sampson carries off the gates of Gaza. Now, you may be focused on the harlot and Sampson’s willful act of sensual satisfaction and how that impacts his effectiveness, and I’m sure he was not as effective as he could have been. But I’m more interested in how he survived yet another ambush.
We’ve already established that Sampson is wasting God’s Power with his willful shenanigans and is likely squandering his opportunities by following his lusts. So, let’s put that aside for the moment, and let me ask another question. If the men of Gaza were lying in wait for Sampson, and he apparently had his hands full of gates, why didn’t they just kill him then? Easy answer: fear! The Philistines were too afraid to attack a man who could carry away two hefty city gates.
You have to understand that these gates would likely have been made of sturdy wood, reinforced to withstand nearly any assault from the outside, keeping their enemies at bay. Most cities back then were contained within thick walls and would have had only one or two sets of gates to maintain as much security as possible.
Most of these gates would have been guarded and may have taken at least two men to close. So, to have one man rip them out of the ground together and carry them to the top of a hill that was over 35 miles away would have been terrifying to them. Because, by the way, Gaza and Hebron are 37 miles apart! It was a fete of superhuman strength that had to have frozen the Philistines in their tracks.
Why do I say that? Because they would never have had a better chance to kill Sampson than when he had his hands full with those gates! They had him dead to rights, but I can hear him taunting them, daring them to try and stop him, all while roaring in his effort, lugging those massive gates up that hill.
I can hear the Philistine men, all warriors and dangerous men in their own rights, muttering amongst themselves, arguing about who will be the one to initiate the attack. “He’s right there! His hands are full! All you have to do is…”
Then the one he’s talking to says, “Why don’t you go try and stop him! I’m not going up to that monster to have my head bashed in! You do it if you’re in that much of a hurry to die!” All the while, Sampson laughs at their fear as he strides off into the night, unscathed by their bellowed curses as he defiantly retreats.
That is why I love The Story of Sampson! God has given us both a Cautionary Tale on why it is a bad idea to squander His Blessings with our own lusts and perhaps a potential account of the meaning behind Matthew 11:12. God clearly utilized violence to vanquish His enemies and those of His people. It’s a good thing Jesus came to bring Peace; otherwise, we may still be saddled with Sampson’s type of task!
Today’s Second Lesson is that we do not really know God like we think we do. His Mind is so beyond ours that even trying to decipher His Purpose is futile. Faith is so vital because we will never get His Purpose until we can see the entire tapestry from the proper side.
All we can see of God’s Work are the weaved threads and the chaos they seem to create. But when the masterwork is complete, and we flip it over and see what He’s been Creating, we discover an intricate work of art that was never perceptible until we saw it from the correct angle! That is how God works, and we second-guess Him to our detriment!
Trust that God knows what He’s doing and that He’s got a Plan in Mind none of us can ever imagine, even with the beautiful, creative minds He’s Granted us. His Mind is so beyond ours that He had Perfect Judgment, unlike Sampson. See, Sampson got in trouble because he wasted God’s Blessings on his own lusts, but God still used him. Now, just imagine what he could have accomplished if he’d simply obeyed!
Have a Spectacular Saturday And Remember, God, Said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”