JUDGES 15: THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD DID WHAT?
SAMSON, HOW COULD YOU LOSE YOUR WIFE IN ONE WEEK?
A strange thing happens to Samson in Judges 14; he takes a wife and loses her in less than one week. I know that sounds weird, but here’s what happened. In a fit of uncontrolled rage at losing a foolish bet, Samson takes revenge on some attendants at his wedding feast, and eventually massacres thirty Philistines to settle his debt (you really need to read Judges 14 to get all the details). Still seething with anger, and in no kind of honeymoon mood, he storms off to his father’s house to cool off. Since he doesn’t go back to his new bride right away, her father assumes Samson isn’t coming back, so he gives her in marriage to another man.
So, after Samson cools off and those honeymoon feelings return, he goes back to discover what’s taken place. Trying to placate Samson, the girl’s father offers Samson his ex-wife’s sister, but Samson refuses. Hurt, humiliated and fuming with rage once again, Samson’s thoughts quickly turn from romance to revenge, and he destroys much of their grain crop in retaliation for what the Philistines have done to him. That sets off an escalating cycle of retaliation and revenge between Samson and the Philistines. In this exchange, things go from bad to worse. Before this episode is over, Samson’s ex-wife and her father are burned to death, Samson’s own people turn on him, and one thousand Philistines are slaughtered.
Amid all these details, there’s a thrice-repeated sentence that may make you scratch your head: “The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power” (Judges 14:6, 14:19, 15:14). Long before the events of Judges 14-16, while Samson was a youth, we read, “the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him . . .” (Judges 13:25). Of the seven times in Judges we read about the Spirit of the LORD coming on someone, four of them are in relation to Samson.
Does the Spirit of God prompt people to do the sorts of things Samson did? Clearly, the author of Judges puts the Spirit right in the mix of these stories. But should we say that the Spirit of God caused Samson to act in such ungodly ways? I don’t think so. Apostle Paul writes, “All Scripture is God-breathed . . .” (2 Timothy 3:16). James 1:13-15 is part of Scripture, and it says that God does not tempt anyone; rather our own sinful desires entice us and drag us away from God.
Samson’s physical power to deliver his people certainly came from God’s Spirit, but Samson’s choice of behaviors to accomplish God’s plan were of his own unholy choosing. Quite unlike the anointing of the Spirit in the New Testament, the anointing of the Spirit in the Old Testament did not necessarily produce holiness. When a person becomes a Christian, God gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit works within each Christian to produce his fruit (Read Galatians 5:22-25). The Spirit of God will never prompt you to do the wrong thing.
Father, thank you for the Holy Spirit who you promised would fill me when I became a Christian. I need his powerful presence in my life to help me develop the fruit of righteousness that only you can give through him. Teach me every day what it means to walk in step with the Spirit. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
Dr. Dan Dozier
Dan Dozier preaches for the Rural Hill Church of Christ in Antioch, TN. Dr. Dozier holds degrees from Lipscomb University, Harding School of Theology, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate from Abilene Christian University. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, JaneLee, since 1972. They have three married children and eight grandchildren.