Judges - The Texture of Failure: Week 8

By Jacob Toman

Throughout our study of the lives of the judges, I have had two hopes. First, I sincerely hope we’ve been confronted by the grotesque nature of sin. Second, I sincerely hope we’ve witnessed God’s care for his people. Today we wrap up our study by concluding the life of Samson and study the summary description of God’s people at the conclusion of the book of Judges.

Few others in the story of the scriptures are described to have the strength of Samson (perhaps Goliath is the only other comparable physical specimen), or to have accomplished so many deeds of bravery (King David also had killed many in battle and defeated wild beasts). Yet for all the great outward strength of Samson, he lacked much of the inner strength of someone like Joseph, who fled from temptations of the flesh, rather than allow himself to be destroyed by them.

 

Read Judges 16...

How would you describe Samson’s romantic relationships? (Hint: see 14:1, 16:1, 16:4)

How would you describe Samson and Delilah’s relationship?

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The book of Judges ends with these two phrases repeated in Judges 17:6 and 21:25

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.

As we conclude our study of the book of Judges we have 5 lessons to be reminded of and learn from.

  1. The enemies of the Israelites came from geographically all around them. As their sin continued and they generationally rejected the Lord, their troubles exponentially grew.
  2. The troubles of God’s people are not the result of an abusive, angry God, but are the natural consequences of what happens to a small nation when God doesn’t specifically protect them.
  3. God does not sit idly by while evil persists. The wages of sin is death - this applies not only to God’s people but also to those who hate the Lord.
  4. God does not abandon his people - God disciplines his people and then restores them to himself.
  5. God uses people from every background for his glory.

Judges - The Texture of Failure: Week 7

By Jacob Toman

These will be our last two weeks in Judges. We’ve seen the lives of 5 previous major judges; now we see the life of the final and perhaps most famous judge in the entire book: Samson. Many have heard of Samson in wider cultural references, as he, in many ways, fits the stereotypes of the tragic Hero.

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Read Judges 13:1-25...

How long have the Israelites been oppressed at the time of Samson’s birth? (Hint: See 13:1)

What other biblical births does Samson remind you of?

What are the attributes of Samson as a leader? Is he a strong relational political thinker? Is he a warlord? Is he of noble birth?

 

Read Judges 14:1-20...

Who does Samson desire for his wife? (Hint: See 14:2)

Where are Samson’s wife’s loyalties? (Hint: See 14:15)

How does Samson speak to those he’s in relationship with? Would you describe him as a patient listener? How would you describe his manners of speaking?

How does Samson overcome his enemies? (Hint: See 14:19)

 

Read Judges 15:1-20...

On whose authority is Samson acting in this chapter? (Hint: See 15: 3)

Why are the Philistines angry with Samson? Why is Samson angry with the Philistines?

Who in this chapter does Samson feel betrayed by? (Hint: See 15:1-2, 11-12, 18)

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Samson often finds himself embroiled in heated moments of life or death peril. Despite all his individual abilities, he keeps finding himself surrounded by foes. In our own lives, are we seeking to avoid the obstacles, challenges, and trials by which God is growing us? Do we see our various obstacles, challenges, and trials as moments when we can uniquely focus our faith and dependence on the Lord? What are the trials surrounding you in your life? Finances? Health? Relationships? Loneliness? Purpose? Are these things you are trying to avoid or escape from?

Samson’s failures are often a result of his determination to follow his own desires, rather than depend on the Lord. Samson’s successes are the result of the Lord’s determination to love his people.

Consider if, in your trials today, you are following your own determination, or depending on the Lord for his strength.

Judges - The Texture of Failure: Week 6

By Jacob Toman

How do you feel when someone lies to you? What emotions and reactions are stirred up within you the moment you realize you’ve been deceived?

In Judges 10-12 we see the life of Jephthah as one that is a picture of God’s relationship with his Old Testament people. Jephthah's life is full of conflict and he lived in an age of broken promises; similarly, God’s relationship with his people is marked by their broken promises and broken vows of love.

 

Read Judges 10:6-18...

Who are the characters (people) involved in this passage? (Hint, lots of “ites”)

In Judges 10:7 we’re told God became “angry”. What explanation is given for why God is angry? (Hint, see 10:11-14)

How does Israel respond to God’s critique of their life choices? (Hint, see 10:15)

What will the reward be for leading the attack against the Ammonites? (Hint, See 10:18)

 

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Read Judges 11:1-11...

How is Jephthah and his family lineage described? (Hint, see 11:1-2)

How would you describe Jephthah’s relationship with his brothers?

What is the promise of the elders of Gilead to Jephthah? (Hint, see 11:8, 10)

 

Read Judges 11:12-28...

How does Jephthah address the Ammonite King?

What power does Jephthah appeal to in his message to the Ammonite king? (Hint, see 11:23-24)


 

Read Judges 11:29-40...

What are the terms of the vow Jephthah makes to God? (Hint, see 11:30-31)

 

One of the repeated themes throughout the story of Jephthah is that of faithfulness to vows. The people of Israel were unfaithful to their vows to the Lord by serving false gods (10:6). The father of Jephthah was unfaithful in his marriage to his wife (11:1). The brothers of Jephthah were unfaithful to their kin (11:2). The vow of the leaders of Gilead to make Jephthah ruler is questionable as seen by Jephthah’s initial concern of their insincerity (11:7).

The sad irony of the story of Jephthah is that there are many parties who break their vows and are dishonest, yet when it comes to the murder of his own daughter, Jephthah keeps his vow! Oh the tragedy! The one person who should have been unfaithful to his vow!

How does Jephthah's leadership of Israel end? (See 12:7)

Think today on the promises you’ve made. Are there promises you regret making? Are there promises you ought to keep but haven’t followed through? If you’re a believer in Christ Jesus, then trust in this promise from Jesus:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

- Matthew 28:20b

 

Despite all the unkept promises, deceit, and broken vows in our own lives, our God is a faithful, promise keeping God who is with us and never forsakes us.