JUDGES 14 - 15
As I read through today's text, the main thing that caught my attention was Samson. How would you like to have to write a character reference for this guy? The second thing that caught my attention was the phrase "... and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him." The phrase is found three times in our text today, as well as the phrase at the end of last week's lesson that reads, "... the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him." From those phrases we know that Samson had the Lord's Spirit in him from time to time.
I did some research into the use of that phrase in the Old Testament. Samson is in some pretty good company. Others who were said to have the Spirit of the Lord in them were Joseph, Bezalel (the main craftsman of the tabernacle), seventy elders who helped Moses in the wilderness, Balaam, Joshua, Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah, Saul, David, Azariah, Zechariah (son of Jehoiada), Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah, and Daniel. But the phrase, "the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him," is used in reference to only two other individuals: Saul and David.
Look at Saul in I Samuel 10:6,10 and 11:6. Entertaining story. This was still during the period of Judges when Israel did not have a king.
Samuel was a judge of Israel all the days of his life. In chapter 8 of I Samuel, Samuel is old and sets his sons up as judges. Yet they did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice. The Israelites didn't like the sons as judges, so they asked Samuel to appoint a king for the Israelite nation, like the other nations.
Samuel warns them of the folly of wanting a king, but the people are persistent. And God tells Samuel to give them what they want.
Along comes Saul, who is out looking for his father's lost animals. Samuel becomes aware that this is the one the Lord has chosen to be Israel's first king. He anoints Saul and tells him he is to be the prince over Israel. He tells him two signs that will occur to him the next day to prove that what Samuel has prophesied is true and that the "Spirit of the Lord will come mightily upon him" and he will prophesy along with some prophets and be turned into a new man. Samuel tells him in verse 7 of I Samuel 10, when this happens "do whatever your hands find to do, for God is with you."
The two signs come to pass. Saul prophesies, and the people who aren't yet aware that Saul is to be their king say, "What has come over the son of Kish?" They did not see the actual Spirit of the Lord come mightily over Saul, but they were well aware of the effect. Saul was different from before.
Later, Samuel calls all the tribes together at Mizpah, in chapter 10, to give Israel what they think they want - a king. The king is chosen by lot with God's help. First the tribe of Benjamin is chosen. Then from that tribe, the family of the Matrites is taken by lot, and that family is brought forth man by man. Saul, the son of Kish, is chosen by lot. When they start looking for Saul, they can't find him. They ask, "Didn't the man come?" The Lord answers, "Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage." The man in whom the Spirit of the Lord had come upon mightily is hiding out - trying to escape the monumental responsibility of being Israel's king.
In I Samuel 11, the city of Jabesh-gilead is besieged by Nahash the Ammonite. Messengers are sent to Gibeah to tell Saul. Saul is out plowing in the field. When he comes, he finds all the people crying. When he asks, "What ails the people?", he is told about the plight of Jabesh. Verse 6 says "the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled." Remember he was told to "do what your hands find to do" when the Spirit comes upon him. He takes a yoke of oxen and cuts them in pieces and sends them throughout all the territory of Israel saying, "Whosoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!" With that threat, "the dread of the Lord fell upon the people," and 330,000 men come to answer the call. The Ammonites are defeated the next day.
In I Samuel 15, we see a different story for Saul. He listened to the people and did what the people wanted him to do instead of listening to God and doing His will. The grieving Samuel tells Saul that the Lord rejects him from being king over Israel.
In I Samuel 16, young David is anointed king in the midst of his brothers, and the "Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him" instead.
These three warriors (Samson, Saul & David) had the Spirit of the Lord come mightily upon them. "Do whatever your hands find to do, for God is with you."
We marvel at what the hands of Samson found to do when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. We're not told what his countrymen thought of him, but the men of Judah turned him over to the enemy.
Was he seen as someone who just caused Israel more problems than he solved, or as the Lord's champion? If Samson were alive today with his actions and if his services were needed, would our countrymen hail him as a hero? He reminds me of a "Hulk Hogan" or "Rambo" type character. Would we look at him in a similar light as the man who recently shot an abortion doctor? A Christian Shiite? A militant, religious fanatic who just tended to make matters worse by rocking the boat? This is a man in whom the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon. We are not even told what God thought of his actions. He did judge Israel for twenty years.
Are you kind of glad that the Spirit of the Lord doesn't come upon you mightily? David, Saul and Samson were men of action. Their hands found blood to spill and lives to take.
Throughout the Old Testament, the Spirit of the Lord selectively came upon prophets, priests and kings as God needed, in order to bring the Messiah into the world through Abraham's lineage. The prophet Joel looked forward to a day when the gifts of the Spirit would come to old and young, men and women, without regard to external office or function. Joel 2:28,29, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my spirit."
In Acts 2, when the apostles are in one place on the day of Pentecost, a sudden sound came from heaven, like the rush of a mighty wind, and the apostles are filled with the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us in Acts 2:38 that we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit after repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Does it come upon us mightily? During the dark ages some Christians thought the Spirit mightily led them to kill others in the name of the Lord. They felt moved and did what their hands found to do - or what some "Christian leader" told them to do.
When the Spirit is studied in the New Testament we find that it is the same Spirit, but it is manifested in different ways. I Corinthians 12:4-9 says, "there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; varieties of service, but the same Lord; varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." One may be given wisdom, another knowledge, another faith, etc. All of these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills. Romans 12 expounds on that, saying we are all members of one body, but with different functions, according to the grace given us - prophesying, serving, teaching, exhorting, contributing, aiding with zeal, and acts of mercy.
After saying there is one body and one Spirit, Ephesians 4:11,12 says, "His gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers." Why? "TO EQUIP THE SAINTS FOR THE WORK OF MINISTRY, FOR BUILDING UP THE BODY OF CHRIST..." So no longer is one man or one office singled out to do the Lord's work, but His Spirit has been poured out on all the saints. With this Spirit we are to work together to build up the church, to do what our hands find to do. We are not to be found hiding among the baggage to escape our responsibilities. Like David, Saul, and Samson, the Spirit calls us to be women of action.
In the Old Testament the Spirit seems to have come and gone in some individuals. He did not always seem to dwell in them continually. As New Testament Christians, we have a responsibility to grow spiritually. Spiritual growth involves hearing and absorbing information from God's book, learning and understanding its meanings and implications, and applying His word to our lives. In order to grow, we must be connected or rooted to the source of strength from God. We become rooted when we accept Jesus as our Savior. We stay rooted by spending time with our Lord in prayer and in study of His word and in pursuing His good deeds, building up His church, and encouraging others to do likewise. Colossians 2:6 & 7 tells us to live firmly rooted and built up in Christ and established in the faith.
I want to end with a paraphrase of Galatians 5:16-25. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would... Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing and the like." (Sounds like Samson.) (These all bring the dread of the Lord upon the people.) "But if we walk by the Spirit, we will produce the fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR