FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, Sat, 1/19/2012
Saturday, January 19, 2013
JUDGES, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, PLUS, Sat, 1/19/2013
THE BITTER TASTE OF SWEET REVENGE, Lesson 19b
v. 3-6 SAMSON’S REVENGE
Instead of taking his defeat like a man and going home to regroup and seek God’s will for his life, Samson plans to get even. The problem with getting even is that it is impossible. Samson is about to find out that revenge always escalates out of control. He is about to learn the truth that violence always begets violence.
v. 3 His Motivation – Look at Samson’s language in this verse. He is concerned about himself. He is concerned about what they have done to him. He is motivated in his revenge by vanity. Notice how he even seeks to justify his actions by claiming that they had done worse to him.
Samson’s motivation for attacking the Philistines is all wrong. He should have been attacking them because they were oppressing the people of Israel. He should have been attacking them because it was what God had raised him up to do. He should have been attacking them to help deliver his people from Philistine bondage. Instead, Samson attacks the Philistines because he is mad about how he has been treated. He is doing what God called him to do, but he is doing it for the wrong reasons, and out of the wrong motivation. Can you see that?
This is a good place for us to stop and take a look at our own motivations. Our motives for serving the Lord will determine our faithfulness to Him and will regulate our service to Him.
When we serve God because we receive some benefit in return, we will be shallow in our devotion to Him. When the perceived benefit is no longer there, there will be a drop off in our faithfulness and service.
For instance, someone comes to church out of a sense of obligation or out of a desire to be a part of a social outlet. Then, they join a club or a lodge. That new outlet meets the same need and they stop coming to church.
Or, someone serves in the church because they receive the thanks and gratitude of the congregation. If that thanks and gratitude dries up, so does their service. The same is true for those who serve simply for monetary gain. When the money is gone, so are they.
This is a warning about seeking to attract people using gimmicks. Someone said, “If you get them in with a hot dog, you will have to keep them with a hamburger.” That is exactly right! A lot of the churches that have resorted to worldly methods and gimmicks to draw their crowds will see a falling away when they run out of gimmicks to keep them there.
That is why we need to examine our motives. Why do we serve the Lord? Why do we come to church? Why do we do the things we do? If we are motivated by love for the Savior; if we are stirred by the thoughts of all He did for us in dying for us, saving us, keeping us and blessings us; if we realize that everything we have is merely the product of His grace; then we will have proper motivation for our service to Him. That kind of motivation will enable us to flesh out 1 Cor. 15:58, which says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” What motivates you?
v. 4-5 His Methods – Samson is determined to exact his revenge against the Philistines. He catches three hundred foxes. These animals are probably a kind of jackal that used to roam Israel in large packs. He ties them tail to tail, making 150 pairs of these animals. He ties a burning torch between their tails and sets them free. These terrified animals run through the wheat fields, the olive groves and the vineyards and burn them all to the ground. This would have been a devastating blow to the economy. After all, verse 1 tells us that it was the “time of wheat harvest”.
The fire of revenge burned within Samson’s heart. He is upset about losing his wife, but he still smarts from what the Philistines did to him at his wedding feast. He cannot let it go; he just has to have his “pound of flesh”.
v. 6 His Miscalculation – Samson has his revenge. He probably thinks that will be the end of the matter. If he thinks this, it is a terrible miscalculation.
The Philistines are upset by the loss of their crops, their olives and their vineyards. They ask around to see who did this and they are told that Samson is responsible. Being wicked, selfish men themselves, they are instantly filled with thoughts of vengeance. However, they do not attack Samson to his face, they act like the cowards they are and try to attack Samson through others. They take the woman he married and her father and they burn them alive. Probably, they shut them up inside the family home and burned them to death.
This is a terrible scene, but it showcases the truth that revenge has the tendency to escalate. Someone does or says something about us. We respond back in either actions or words. They respond back to us with even harsher actions and words. And, so it goes until lives are ruined, reputations are stained and relationships are forever shattered.
It is never God’s will for us to seek revenge against those who hurt us. Most people think they have to “defend their honor”. If they are attacked, they think it shows weakness on their part to just take it and let it go. Samson thought this way. Most people are quick to rise up against those who attack them and attack back with an extra measure of violence and vengeance. That, my friends, is not God’s plan for His children!
When we are attacked, we must never attack back. To do so puts us on the same level as those who attack us. Those who attack others, those who spread rumors and gossip, those who try to ruin reputations, are the lowest of the low. To do so tarnishes our testimony and reveals that the love of Jesus Christ is not a powerful force in our lives.
Those who attack others do not love them, but are walking in hatred. To do so reveals pride in our hearts. Those who attack think they are right and everyone else is wrong. They are walking in pride. When we attack them back, we are no better than they are. We are also walking in pride because; we are saying that life is about us, and not about the will of God for our lives.
How are we supposed to respond when we are attacked? I will say more about this in a moment. I think I will be able to show you that God has a better way of responding to our attackers than for us to attack back.
Galatians 6:9 (New International Version (NIV)
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
“God Will Make A Way” By Don Moen (1990)
God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength
For each new day
He will make a way
He will make a way
By a roadway in the wilderness
He'll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain
He will do something new today
Divine Father, God of Declaration, Dedication and Destiny! Help us to be aware of Your presence always and help us to seek You for the right reasons always. Teach us to be blameless and upright, to seek Your justification for all our problems, especially when calamities come our way. Enable us to focus inward where we can find You and not outward. Comfort us by the power of Your Word and Spirit. Direct and guide us in the way we need to go. Be our light and lead us less we fall. These things we ask in Jesus’ glorious name. Amen!
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