Skip to content

DaveTrenholm.com Posts

Samson and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Wedding

Last week we began to look at the life of Samson. And of all the unlikely heroes that we’ve looked at in this series – it seemed, in the beginning anyway, that Samson was actually the most likely. We read how before he was even born, God had specially chosen him and had set him apart as the hero – as the one who would begin to rescue the Israelites from the Philistines.

You’ll remember that an angel told Samson’s mom before He was born that her baby was to be a Nazarite from birth. Being a Nazarite meant that he was dedicated or set apart for God and as a sign of that, he was never to eat or drink anything from the vine (including wine or grapes or raisins) – he was never to cut his hair – and he was never to come near a dead body. Those three things were symbols of how Samson was set apart – dedicated to the Lord.

And things were very promising for Samson right from the beginning – we read that God blessed him as he grew up and that the Holy Spirit began to stir Samson or to prompt him to action as he got older. We even read about the time he was attacked by a lion and empowered by the Holy Spirit, he ripped the lions jaws apart as easily as if it were a young goat. We could clearly see that God was setting up Samson for greatness. It was starting to seem pretty obvious that God was going to use Samson in some amazing ways.

But then we read about two incidents that kinda shook our confidence in Samson. Despite the fact that God had set Samson up for greatness (or perhaps even BECAUSE of the fact that God had set Samson up for greatness), it seems that Samson is starting to become a little bit arrogant.

We read first of all how he totally disregarded his parents by insisting that he marry a young Philistine woman that had ‘caught his eye’. He didn’t even know the girl, but he insisted that she looked good to him and he demanded that his parents ‘get her’ for him. Of course, they saw the foolishness in this decision (knowing that God had specially set Him apart to rescue the Israelite from the Philistines – not to marry them) and they tried to dissuade him – but Samson had no regard for his parents advice. He did not honour his father and mother – as God had instructed in 5th of the 10 commandments.

The second incident that kinda shook our confidence in Samson was his disregard for his Nazarite vows. We read how after he killed that lion that attacked him, he went back later on and found that a swarm of bees had made honey in the carcass. And despite the fact that, as a Nazarite, he was never to go near a dead body, Samson scooped out some of that honey from the lion’s carcass and ate it. This was blatant disobedience to God’s command that he live as a Nazarite – set apart for God.

So we’re started to get some pretty serious red flags about Samson character. He seems to have no regard for authority of any kind – not his parents – not even God Himself. And you can be pretty sure that when someone has no regard for authority, disaster is just around the corner.

Well, today, we’re going to pick it up right where we left off. Samson and his parents have now arrived in Timnah to make the final arrangements for the wedding – this is the wedding that Samson’s parents had tried to talk Samson out of – but Samson wouldn’t listen to them and so the wedding went ahead. So we pick it up in Judges 14 – verse 10.

Leave a Comment

Samson’s Disregard

Well, today we’re going start looking at our final unlikely hero in the book of Judges. Now of course, we haven’t gone through each and every judge nor have we haven’t examined all the details in every story that we have looked at. But I think we’ve drawn out several important lessons from these stories and we’re going to try to do that one more time today. The character that we want to look at today is probably the most famous of all the judges. Today we’re going to start looking at the life of Samson.

Now the Bible gives us more information about Samson than any of the other judges we’ve looked at. Just to give you a comparison, a couple of Judges that we didn’t look at in this study – Tola and Jair – both have only two verse each about their lives – but Samson has four entire chapters.

So there must be something important for us to learn from the life of Samson. Which is almost surprising considering what a wreck his life was. Most of us remember Samson for his great strength – how he killed a lion with this bare hands – or how He tore the city gates right off their hinges – or how he killed a 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. These are the acts that made Samson famous – but what do we know about his character? What kind of a person was He? What was his relationship with God like? What was his relationship with others like? You see, these are the kind of issues that determine whether someone is truly a hero or just some big strong guy…

So that’s where I want to focus our attention this morning – not so much on his super strength and his fantastic exploits, but rather on his character. Because, we can’t all become burly, muscular weight-lifting champions – but we can all become men & women of heroic character.

Samson’s story begins in Judges chapter 13 and it begins much like all the other stories of the judges… it says…

Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years. Judges 13:1

If you’ve been with us for the past few weeks, this is no surprise. Pretty much every story has begun with “Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight – so the Lord handed them over to…. so and so.” And in this case, it was the Philistines. But this is where this story begins to develop differently. Normally, we’d jump right into meeting the hero. But this time we start by meeting the hero’s parents. Look at verse 2.

Leave a Comment

Gideon’s Impossible Situation

As most of you know, we have been looking at some of the unlikely heroes in the book of Judges over the past several weeks. And so far it’s been quite a colorful journey for us. We’ve seen our left-handed hero, Ehud, defeat the fat King Eglon. We witnessed the leadership of Deborah, the one and only female judge, and with that we saw Barak following God’s leading, so long as his conditions were met. Another unlikely hero in that story was Jael who took out Sisera with her weapon of choice – the tent peg, and then last week we started looking at Gideon – the least in his clan, the weakest in his family, hiding out in the bottom of the winepress. And yet, God was able to use every single one of these people for His glory. In-spite of their weaknesses, and perhaps sometimes because of their weaknesses, God was able use them to rescue his people – showing them mercy time and time again.

And so today we are going to continue looking at the life of Gideon. We never got a chance to finish the story last week, and actually, we’re not going to finish it this week either. Gideon’s story is almost a mini-series in itself – there are several little stories within the whole story and we’re not going to go through all of them, so if you want to know the whole story, you’re going to have to read through it on your own some time maybe this week. And I would encourage you to do that, actually. Gideon’s story begins in Judges 6 and goes through to chapter 8 – and if you’re really ambitious, you can read about Gideon’s son Jotham in chapter 9.

But for today, we’re going to start right where we left off last time – at Judges chapter 6, verse 33. And in case you missed last week. God has just commissioned Gideon to rescue his people from the Midianites. Step #1 was to get rid of the false idols that the Israelites had been worshipping. God told Gideon to tear down his father’ altar to Baal and the Asherah pole beside it, and so, although he was afraid, Gideon took that first step of obedience and did what God asked. As a result, God began a change in his family, a change in his town, and a change in Gideon himself. And we’re going to see the further results of those changes today. So we start now at verse 33…

33 Soon afterward the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east formed an alliance against Israel and crossed the Jordan, camping in the valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon with power. He blew a ram’s horn as a call to arms, and the men of the clan of Abiezer came to him. 35 He also sent messengers throughout Manasseh, Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, summoning their warriors, and all of them responded. Judges 6:33-35

Now I’ve got to point out a couple of things before we go any further. First of all, when Gideon sounded the call to arms – who was it that came to him first? The clan of Abiezer. If you remember from last week, Gideon was the son of Joash of the clan of Abiezer. In other words – the first people who rallied to his side were his family! There are probably a few lessons that we could learn from that – but I just wanted to point that out in light of our lesson last week – how Gideon’s first little step of obedience began a change in his family. It changed his father – Joash, who used to worship Baal – and in fact, it seems like Gideon’s obedience has had an impact on his entire clan. I thought that was pretty cool.

When we decide to follow God, we have no idea how much it will impact our entire family. I know lots of you have family members who are not following the Lord right now. Be encouraged by this verse. Maybe it won’t happen over night – maybe it won’t happen for decades –  but your obedience to God can make a huge impact on your family. Perhaps that’s our Mother’s Day encouragement for today – be faithful and obedient to God – and who knows what God may do in your family through you over time.

Secondly, verse 34 I thought was really cool. It says…

Leave a Comment

Gideon – Mighty Hero

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been looking at some of the unlikely heroes in the book of Judges.

And of all the characters that we’ve looked so far, none of them have been the real famous Bible story characters that maybe some of you grew up with. If you went to Sunday school as a kid, you probably acted out the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho – maybe you saw a puppet show about Noah and the ark – there was probably a flannelgraph illustration of Daniel in the lions den.

However, you likely didn’t see any puppets acting out the story of Ehud as he lost his dagger in the fat of King Eglon’s belly. You’re not likely to have seen a kids feature skit about how Jael hammered a tent peg through the skull of Sisera. These aren’t the kinds of stories that usually make it into the children’s Bible story books. But they are in the Bible – and they are important for us to study and learn from… Just maybe not when you’re 5 years old!

But today we’re going to look at another judge – and this one is a little more well-known then some of these others. His story isn’t quite so graphic, so you very well may have learned about him in Sunday School. Today we’re going to look at the life of Gideon.

And Gideon’s story begins just like all the other judges we’ve looked at so far. They all begin the same way…

You’ll remember the cycle of sin that we’ve been talking about in the book of Judges. Israel would sin and so God would allow their enemies to oppress them. And after several years of enduring this oppression, the Israelites would repent and cry out for God to save them. Which of course, God did by sending them a rescuer – that is, a judge – like Ehud or Deborah. But then, as soon as the enemy was defeated and that particular judge died, the Israelites would go right back into sinning again and the cycle would begin all over.

And so, it’s quite predictable, that after Deborah rescued Israel from King Jabin and his commander Sisera, that Israel would again sin, and God would allow another enemy to oppress them. And this time, the enemy was a doozy. If you have your Bibles you can turn to Judges chapter 6 – verse 1. It begins like this:

Leave a Comment

Deborah? Barak? Jael? Nope… God!

Last week we began looking at some of the unlikely heroes in the book of Judges.  The book of Judges is full of some very colorful characters and provides some of the most fascinating and bizarre stories in the Bible. If you’re ever read through the book of Judges, you know what I’m talking about. It is one of the most graphic, violent books that you’ll probably ever read. So why in the world are we talking about it in church! Why is it even in the Bible?

Well, the book of Judges is an important historical record for us that shows us exactly what happens when people abandon the Lord. The moral depravity and chaos that comes when each man does what’s right in his own eyes is a shocking and sobering reminder to us all. But at the same time, the book of Judges gives us hope. It show us a God who merciful and kind. It shows us a God who takes pity on the very people who have abandoned and rejected Him. It shows us that we have a God who is mighty to save. So I’d say that’s certainly worth looking at!

We looked last week at the story of Ehud and how, after the Israelites abandoned God and were worshiping idols, God allowed the Moabites to oppress them. Well, that went on for about 18 years until the Israelites finally repented and called out to God. God answered by sending them Ehud. And the Bible describes Ehud as being a ‘left-handed’ man – which could have meant he had an actual physical disability in his right hand or at the very least, being left-handed in that culture was perceived as a weakness. There was something wrong with you. And yet, it was because of this ‘weakness’, that God was able to use Ehud to free His people from the oppression of the fat Moabite King Eglon. And I won’t recap the whole story, but if you missed it, you can find it in Judges chapter 3.

Now you’ll remember that we talked about the cycle of sin in the book of Judges. Israel would sin, God would send an enemy to oppress them, the people would cry out to God, and God would have mercy send them a rescuer (aka a judge) and he would rescue them. However, as soon as that judge died, the people of Israel would go right back to sinning and the cycle would begin again.

And as we can see in Judges chapter 4 – that is exactly what happened after Ehud died. The cycle began all over again. So that’s where we start today – Judges 4, Verse 1.

After Ehud’s death, the Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight. 2 So the Lord turned them over to King Jabin of Hazor, a Canaanite king. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-haggoyim. 3 Sisera, who had 900 iron chariots, ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help.

Judges 4:1-3

There’s that pattern. Ehud dies and Israel again does evil. So God turns them over to King Jabin and his army commander, Sisera, who oppress Israel for 20 years and then finally, the Israelites cry out to God for help and He again sends them a rescuer. We continue in verse 4:

Leave a Comment