WASTED GIFTS & UNFULFILLED DESTINIES
6. “Who did this?” the Philistines demanded.
“Samson,” was the reply, “because his father-in-law from Timnah gave Samson’s wife to be married to his best man.” So the Philistines went and got the woman and her father and burned them to death.
7. “Because you did this,” Samson vowed, “I won’t rest until I take my revenge on you!”
8. So he attacked the Philistines with great fury and killed many of them. Then he went to live in a cave in the rock of Etam.
Judges 15: 6–8 NLT
Okay, so I can’t adequately explain to you just how excited I am to cover Today’s Passage and the subsequent drama in The Story of Sampson. I’ve mentioned that this is my favorite Story in the Bible, and it is partially because of what happens next.
Admittedly, my fascination with this Story may stem from my attraction to the tragedy and spectacle of it all. Still, there is something more here that summons my attention to Sampson’s narrative, and I believe it is the cautionary nature of this tale.
Sampson is in the perfect position to levy a heavy toll on the oppressive Philistines. They have spent decades subjugating, murdering, and raiding the Israelites, depriving them of peace and stripping them of their dignity.
However, because of Sampson’s self-centeredness and pride, he never fulfilled his destiny in the way God intended. Sampson squandered God’s Power, never realizing his potential, and as we see in Today’s Passage, his potential for destruction was all but unlimited!
Here’s the thing, as Devoted and Protective as God is to those that Love Him, He is equally Vengeful toward those who target them. The last place you ever want to find yourself is in the crosshairs of God’s Wrath.
That’s where the Philistines in this Story have landed, but thankfully for them, Sampson is more concerned with his passions and vengeance than he is God’s Purpose, and therein lies Today’s Lesson.
But before we get to that, let me first reveal just what is happening in Today’s Passage. Sampson has just laid waste to the wealth and well-being of the entire Philistine province by burning up all of their crops. And the way he did it was absolutely ridiculous!
The man caught 300 foxes, apparently by hand, tied their tails together, placed a torch between the knot, and set them loose in the Philistine fields. The devastation it caused would have been unimaginable.
Envision looking out at the fields containing all of the food you and your family will need to survive the harsh desert winter, only to find them ablaze, and there is not a thing you can do to stop it. Well, that’s precisely where the Philistines found themselves.
When they asked who had done this, they were told it was Sampson taking revenge for the whole wedding party fiasco and for having his wife taken from him and given to another man. The Philistine response was even harsher than Sampson’s.
The same men who had threatened to kill Sampson’s wife and father-in-law if she didn’t tell them the answer to Sampson’s riddle abducted her and her family and made good on their threats. They burned them all alive to avenge Sampson’s destruction of their crops.
Well, given what we’ve learned about Sampson thus far, what do you think he will do next? What was Sampson’s response to having his wife and her family murdered by their own country men? To answer this question, I need to go back and cover this Passage in another version.
Verse 8 in the KJV says, “And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter:” Now, I don’t know about you, but I know a little bit about fighting, but I have no clue what this means! In fact, I’ve always wondered what this meant, so since this is, after all, a Bible study, I decided to look into it a little further.
Here’s how it reads in a few other versions: “And he made a great slaughter of them, so that in astonishment they laid the calf of the leg upon the thigh.” Or how about this one? “Then Samson started hacking them to pieces with his sword,” Or there’s this: “He tore them limb from limb with a great slaughter,”
Alright, I think you get the point; it was violent. Sampson did something to those men I’ve never even heard of before! In my imagination, when I heard he “smote them hip and thigh,” I always assumed he broke their legs and hips as his method of butchery. Now that’s dark!
How mad would you have to be to kill a man by stomping him about his middle parts? I’d say about as mad as a man who’s had his entire family stolen and murdered by petty, pitiless, deceitful men. Did these men have it coming? That is not for me to judge, but I could understand Sampson’s fury if it was me.
This may be the most disturbing instance of God’s Wrath executed by a flawed man available to us…until Sampson’s next run-in with the Philistines. Oh, yes, it gets worse! Sampson’s Story is not even close to being over yet. There’s much more drama to come, but before we get to that, let me get to Today’s Lesson.
I mentioned earlier that Sampson was so concerned with exercising his own vengeance and fulfilling his own lusts that he never fully lived up to his potential. That same pitfall exists for all of us who are Called by God today.
It is easy to hear God’s Call and become so caught up in your own stuff, your deep-held lusts, and desires that you lose sight of your True Purpose. God may have qualified you for a task and given you the chops to pull it off, but how many talented, clearly God-Gifted people have you seen squandering their Gifts, using them to further their own thirsts and wealth?
Well, when I said The Story of Sampson was a cautionary tale, I was referring to this. Through his tragic Story, we can see how an infinitely gifted individual can utterly waste their Blessings, throwing God’s Will into flux. Imagine what Sampson could have accomplished had he only surrendered to God’s Plan.
He could have ended the Philistine threat forever. But that’s not what happened. After Sampson’s demise, the Philistines remained a thorn in the Israelite’s side for quite a while. Sampson failed to accomplish God’s Will for him or His people. It was a wasted life spent trying to fulfill lusts, not God’s Call, and I think we can all see the Lesson in that.
Have a Thought-Provoking Thursday And Remember, God, Has Given Us Free Will, And It’s Up To Us To Surrender It Back To Him!