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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Portraits of Christ

Don Smith :: Jdg 13-16; God’s Strength in Human Weakness

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Portraits of Christ
“God’s Strength in Human Weakness” (Judges 13-16)

Doctrinal Discoveries:

  1. God’s Covenant Faithfulness: “This is a faithful saying: ‘For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.’” (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
  2. God’s Providence: Providence is the means God directs all things, both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil toward a worthy purpose…which means that His will must finally prevail.
  3. God’s Promise Doctrine: God purposed before time to purchase a chosen seed for and by Christ, the Seed, and to provide, protect and propagate His Seed.

Interpretive Perspectives: Historical, Allegorical and Practical

  1. Historical: Judges is an accurate record divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit to communicate for all history God’s faithfulness to His redemptive promises throughout the Bible.
  2. Allegorical: Samson has fascinating allegorical (type and shadow) significance. He was the fulfillment of ancient prophesies: “Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path that bites the horse’s heels [crushes the heels of the oppressor] so that its rider shall fall backward. I have waited for your salvation, O LORD!” (Genesis 49:16-17)
    • He was God’s provision for Israel’s deliverance during the mediatorial reign of Moses and the Kings in anticipation of Christ, the Son of David.
    • He provides unique prophetic glimpses of Christ.
      • His birth, like Christ’s was announced by an angel in fulfillment of God’s promises.
      • His consecration, like Christ’s, was ordained before his birth to be God’s servant and deliverer of Israel.
      • His strength, like Christ’s, came from the indwelling Holy Spirit.
      • His generation, like Christ’s, consorted and compromised with the enemy leaving them weak.
      • His prayer life, like Christ’s, was the secret of His strength.
      • His enemies, like Christ’s, plotted his capture.
      • His own people (Judah) rejected and plotted against him, like they did Christ, binding and giving Him over to Gentiles to do their killing.
      • His death, like Christ’s, crushed the head of Israel’s enemy.
  3. Practical: Samson’s life is another example for us to learn from. “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:11-13)

God’s strength in human weakness: Different Theologies of Glory

  1. The Theology of Glory: Robbing God of His Glory through self-aggrandizing, success-centered, power spirituality. Israel forfeited the blessings of faith in God for the blessings of acceptance by their surrounding culture.
    • “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD.” (Judges 17:6; 13:1)
    • “With the theology of [man’s] glory, we begin to demand that God justify himself to us in our suffering by giving us healing and success. We demand a God who does what we want Him to do, and we will reject the way of the cross by which He comes to us. We will become fearful of suffering and preoccupied with its avoidance at the expense of truth and faithfulness.” —G.W. Veith
    • It glorifies God to unmistakably reveal His power through the weak. “He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.” (Isaiah 40:29)
    • It is appropriate to boast in Christ’s strength but not our own. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)
    • It manifests God’s infinite wisdom and power while exposing the folly of human wisdom and fleshly power. “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-25)
    • It manifests the sufficiency of God’s grace in our weakness. “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
    • “For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.” (2 Corinthians 13:4)
    • It exposes the weakness of our flesh and the need of prayer. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
  2. The Theology of the Cross: Glorying in the blessings of God’s grace that flow from the cross as well as the sufferings—this is the power of God in human weakness.

God remained faithful in Israel’s unfaithfulness. (Judges 1-12)

  1. The Book of Judges
    • It is the Chronicles of men and women appointed and anointed by God to serve His purposes by delivering Israel from their enemies and themselves.
    • It is uncertain who the author is, but many believe it was Samuel.
  2. The Days of Israel’s Twelve Judges
    • The calling as “Judge of Israel.”
    • The office of firstborn was recorded by Moses. (Deuteronomy 16:18; 17:9; 19:17)
    • Judges were meant to stand by the side of the high priest, as the supreme judge of the law and the leader in Israel.
    • His duties were religious, judicial, civil and military.
    • In Judges, the high priests functioned as Israel’s “deliverers,” raised up by God, to destroy their oppressors, to judge Israel of its sins, and to execute civil duties.
    Years of Oppression  Years as Judge  References
    1) Othniel, Arameans 8 40 Judges 3:7-11
    2) Ehud, Moabites 18 80 Judges 3:12-30
    3) Shamgar, Philistines ? ? Judges 3:31
    4) Deborah, Canaanites 20 40 Judges 4-5
    5) Gideon, Midianites 7 40 Judges 6-8
    6) Tola, ? ? 23 Judges 10:1-2
    7) Jair, ? ? 22 Judges 10:3-5
    8) Jephthah & Ammonites 18 6 Judges 10:6-12:7
    9) Ibzan, ? ? 7 Judges 12:8-10
    10)  Elon, ? ? 10 Judges 12:11-12
    11) Abdon, ? ? 8 Judges 12:13-15
    12) Samson, Philistines 40 20 Judges 13-16
  4. Dates of the judges: About B.C.1390 to B.C. 1043
  5. Dates for Samson: 1069-1049 B.C.
  6. Samson’s contemporaries:
    • Samuel was a prophet, Nasserite and ultimate deliverer from the Philistines.
    • Eli the priest died hearing that the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines. (1 Samuel 3:13)
    • The Ark was later returned to Israel and they were punished for blasphemies. (1 Samuel 6:19)
    • It was moved to “Kiriath Jearim” near Samson and the tabernacle in Shiloh. (1 Samuel 7:2)
    • Gideon may also have ruled as Judge during Samson’s life.

Re-Assessing Samson’s life through the Scriptures:

  1. Inadequate assessment of Solomon: “Take away the miracles and you’re left with an unrestrained womanizer, living simply to serve his appetites.”
  2. Re-Appraisal of Samson from Hebrews 11:32-40.
    • The Biblical description of Samson as a hero of faith, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of muckings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these,(including Samson) having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

Why is David perceived in a more positive light than Samson?

  • David was of the seed of Christ and Judah. Samson was of the seed of Dan.
  • David was a king and Samson a judge.
  • David was the author of Psalms, which give us great insight into his personal faith and failures. There is no recorded work of Samson describing his personal faith.
  • David and Samson shared great feats of faith, as well as great failures.
    • Both first realized the power of God’s Spirit in them by killing lions.
    • Both had to fight to fulfill their wedding obligations (Samson killed 30 / David 200).
    • Both men married women whose fathers-in-law gave their daughters to other men.
    • Both became renown for fighting the Philistines. (Samson 4,030 / David thousands)

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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