So, upon Phil’s suggestion, I picked up the Bible and started reading the Old Testament again. Heaven only knows when the last time was I actually sat down and read through the OT for the story of it all, and Phil is always telling me these random stories that I KNOW they skipped over in Sunday school. Looking through Judges, I found some pretty strange stuff, that I’d either completley glossed over before, or just never read.
Take for instance the story of Samson (and he’s definitely not one of the stranger stories in there–I look forward to getting to those) Mr. Strength, we know. Mr. Hair, we know. Mr. Lust, we know, and Mr. Stupid (for trusting Delilah with his secret after she’d already betrayed him three times), we know. I guess I just always saw him as this big, mindless, Fabio-a-like, brute.
But how’s this for ingenuity? After Samson deserts his wife (Philistine, it should be noted) for giving away a riddle, he decides that he wants her back, but she’s been given to his best man. So this is how he retaliates:
And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes; and he took torches and turned the foxes tail to tail and put one torch in between every two tails. Then he set the torches on fire and sent the foxes into the Philistines’ standing grain and burned up the shocks and the standing grain as well as the vineyards and the olive groves. (Judges 15:4-5 RV)
I know that this is a small detail in a much larger story, but it completely struck me that I didn’t know that part of it. Samson may have been pretty hot-headed and tempestuous, and a sucker for a pretty face, but that stunt at least proves that he was creative in his revenge.
By the end of the story I got to feel pretty sorry for him. He is a slave, his eyes are gouged out, he’s “entertaining” a bunch of his enemies, and he prays, once again, for vengence (which Jehovah was happy to deliver it seems). So, he gets one last, final burst of strength, and knocks the house down by its pillars, killing more Philistines with his death than he did in his lifetime. And so passes Samson, a judge of Israel for 2o years.
I think part of the reason why I feel sad for him is due to his “pawn-factor.” It seems to me that Samson got a raw deal. In the beginning of the story it says, “…Jehovah was looking for an opportunity against the Philistines.” (14:4) And He found that opportunity in ol’ Sammy. I know that Samson was a Nazarite, called to be set apart, a special servant to God, and though he did not live in a manner worthy of his calling, God used him anyway. Isn’t this what we should all wish for? To be a vessel of the Lord even when we are not “worthy”?
But let me say it again. God used him. Used him to get at the Philistines, and I feel sorry for the guy. Samson, despite some sparks of creativity he displayed, comes off as just a mindless pawn in the hands of a God who wants to get back at the enemy of His people. I know God can do whatever he wants, and that He can use whomever He wishes for whatever He wishes. Maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way, but generally when I think of “using” a person, it carries a negative connotation. Then again, I’m not God.
So, I guess I’m wrestling with this story some, and wondering.
It’s fun, having a little impromptu Bible study. I think I’ll do it some more…I’m sure we have plenty of books in our library that would jump off the shelves to give me their opinions on the matter.