OT: Judges 15:1-16:31
--I got the impression from yesterday's reading that it was Samson who gave his wife to his friend. But no, the verse says, "And Samson's wife was given to the friend" (14:20). It doesn't specify who did it. That actually made me like Samson a little more since I had thought it was a little harsh to give your wife away. I do think it's strange that Samson didn't notice this until "later on, at the time of harvest" (15:1). The way the verse is worded makes it seem like a while has passed. Didn't he want to be with his wife before then?
--Philistine culture is not great. The men of the town are all about burning people to death, as they threaten to burn Samson's wife in chapter 14 and then actually do burn her and her father in chapter 15. That poor woman (and father). What a brutal culture.
--I have described Samson as impetuous, but can you imagine how much time it would have taken to pull off the stunt with the foxes? How long did it take to catch 300 foxes? How did Samson keep them in one place? How did he tie their tails without them attacking him? How did he fasten the torch? And then he had to light 150 torches. I'm telling you, that was a project. That was not just a whim.
--Though it might not be fair to describe Samson purely as a hothead, impulse control is definitely not his strong suit. But again, his, um, affinity for prostitutes and pagan women work perfectly into God's plan for punishing the Philistines. Crazy.
--My "whoa" moment of the reading came during the Delilah sequence. I have always, always pictured that the Philistines actually showed themselves during the times Delilah ties him up. But no. It doesn't say that. Here's what it says: "With men hidden in the room, she called to him, 'Samson, the Philistines are upon you!'" (9, 12). It never indicates that Samson ever knew she was setting him up. On the contrary, in the first two instances, it seems that Samson was well aware that Delilah was tying him up. It was like a game. And she pouts because he keeps tricking her. This all makes so much more sense to me. I've always thought, "Samson, you idiot! This woman keeps tying you up against your will and bringing in Philistines to capture you, and yet you tell her the truth!" But maybe she didn't tie him up against his will, and maybe he never saw the Philistines. It makes a lot more sense that they planned to stay hidden until they saw whether it worked or not.
If that is the case, it makes the story more tragic to me. I mean, Samson still was no genius. And he had to know that she was going to shave his head, since she did all the other things. But he truly didn't know that she was in league with the Philistines, and that she would turn him over to them in his weakness. And to think, she was just in it for the money (unlike his first wife, who was in it to not be burned to death). Wow. She was a piece of work.
I love that Jesus' first miracle is spurred on out of love for his mama. He tells her, "Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come" (4). His words show both affection and the fact that there is no point to this miracle other than to make his mother happy. This was not part of the "grand plan." This was before "his time" had even begun. I love that.
When I read about Samson and the foxes, I thought of Jesus in the temple. How funny that I would read it today! Both of these acts seem so rash, and yet both took more prep work than I think people usually imagine. Here Jesus took the time to make a whip out of cords (and in Luke's version, he even waits until the next day). Clearly, this was not a blind rage. I find that point important b/c I have this story cited many times as an excuse to react in "righteous anger." And I'm not saying that there is no place for anger (though James 1:20 does say that "man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."). I'm just saying that I would hesitate before using this story as divine precedent of our right to vent our "righteous anger" onto others.
I also have always loved verses 24-25: "But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man." I love Jesus' wisdom here. He is being as shrewd as a snake and as innocent as a dove, just as he instructed his disciples in Matthew 10:16. Verses like these keep me from being an idealist. Instead, I like to think of myself as a realist. Jesus, more than any other person, had a full understanding of "what was in a man." And as such, he chose not to "entrust himself to them." I'd say that was a good call.
Oh, how I love this psalm. Somehow, I have totally stopped reading who writes the psalms. It didn't occur to me to look and see who it was until verse 10: "he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities." I thought, "That's weird. That doesn't sound at all like the deal laid out in the Law." And then it hit me: "Ohhhh. It's David." And it was. I really think David had such a deeper understanding of God than the view that was presented at that time.
My favorite verse is verse 5, which tells us that God will "satisf[y] your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." I love how it doesn't say that God will give us whatever we want. It says he will give us "good things," things that will satisfy our desires. And what are our desires? My deepest desires are to be loved; to have meaning; to be a part of something important, some great adventure; and to have peace and comfort. God really does satisfy those desires in me, and He fills my life with such good things.
More condemnation of the quick-tempered, the crafty, the simple, the evil, and the wicked.