JUDGES 15: LIBERAL GOVERNANCE
For the millennium celebrations, Carlisle City Council on the border of Scotland, commissioned a 14-tonne granite “work of art” inscribed with cursing statements against the region’s families. News of the “cursing stone”, allegedly costing £50,000+/-, reached national news after the Foot and Mouth Decease and the first of the worst floods in 180 years hit the region.[a] But it seems that the liberal thinking of this governing body doesn’t believe in curses – well, at least not enough to protect the families in the region who do, by chopping up their rather expensive rock.
I believe in curses. When Peter called down curses upon himself, swearing three times that he didn’t know Jesus, it was a very serious matter.[b] It seems to me that the matter was so important that Jesus couldn’t enter heaven without first addressing, three times, Peter’s devotion – not just to Jesus but also to Jesus’ Followers – before re-commissioning him.[c]
We’re to bless those who persecute us; bless and not curse.[d] If our tongues are “a restless evil and full of deadly poison”; with our tongues we “bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse humans who have been made in the likeness of God”, such that from the same mouth “both blessing and cursing come” – this isn’t how things ought to be!![e]
Since satan, evil, sin, death and destruction all exist, “curse” is also therefore a real consequence of life on Planet Earth.[f] And, although it’s possible to live under the ravages of a curse, I’m not superstitious nor fearful of being “cursed” e.g. by a witch’s hex. I know that since I no longer live under the curse of sin and death, I can trust the Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, for His loving protection.[g] If ALL have been redeemed from under the curse of sin and death[h] and, if things that are useless (and close to being cursed) are burned up in the end[i], who am I to reactivate the curse again in anyone’s life!
In yesterday’s chapter, Israel were living under a 40-year curse.[j] What the Creator God had previously predicted, as consequences of liberal governance, had indeed fallen upon them. The people of Philistine – people originally from Caphtor (modern day Crete) who had previously moved in to destroyed the Avvites living along the Mediterranean Sea[k] – were now pushing east into Judah. They ruled with force over Israel for 40 years. Looking for an occasion to confront their behaviour[l], the Creator God raised up Samson.
But after fraternizing with “pagans”, Samson disobeys his parents, eats from the carcass of a dead animal, marries an “unbeliever”, murders innocent people and storms out in anger, abandoning his bride. Today’s chapter adds to the list of what clearly appears to be unbridled liberal governance, in Samson’s personal life.
After months of abandonment, and clearly no word from Samson, the bride’s father gives her away. [v1-2] In that culture, it was important for her father to place her with someone, especially now that she wasn’t a virgin. But feeling a sense of personal “right”, Samson sets 300 foxes on fire thus setting fire to all the Philistine crops! [v3-5]
At this point, anyone from the animal rights community would throw the script in the bin. Why follow a God who allows this sort of behaviour?
As a result, the poor bride and her father are burned alive [v6] and a war breaks out. [v9-11] If the story isn’t getting worse, the Creator God is clearly beginning to look “interestingly difficult to understand”, especially to someone from the 21st Century. So, the best way to explain what’s going on here, is translate the story to a school playground…
The Creator God is the Headteacher in charge of the whole school and everyone in it.[m] But the school playground seems filled with naughty little kids. Bottomline, none are righteous – not even one.[n] Among the children are the Headteacher’s own kids and, one day, they came into His office complaining that the school bully had hit them. But the Headteacher had been watching the behaviour of His own children over the past 40+ days. So He simply replied that they deserved what they got, then He sent them back out into the playground – hoping they’d learn (be it the hard way) from their mistakes.
From His office window, however, he watched the playground carefully especially hoping that with enough “roughing up” His kids would learn their lesson and return to Him for proper advice on a way forward. After all, they knew that He had the school policy manual. With His years of teaching and watching human behaviour, He’d conceived every policy possible to make the playground run smoothly. Then He got His own kids to write it out. They knew how to function appropriately.
Hearing that the Headteacher sent His children away empty-handed, the school bully thought that he’d got away with his behaviour. So he started “lording it over” the Head Teacher’s children. This went on for 40 days – carefully recorded by the Headteacher who knew exactly when the recent spate of trouble started. But He allowed it to happen because He was hoping that His kids, in particular, would learn their lesson and revert back to the school guidebook for help.
When they came back to Him for real help, and appeared sorry for their part in the trouble, the Head Teacher took one of His sons and made him School Prefect – a leader to deliver the rest of the children from the hands of the bully.[o] Why isn’t the Head Teacher taking charge? Well… like any good Head Teacher, He wants the children to know the school handbook and live by it. He wants them to “grow up” in their behaviour, and self-govern, according to the policy manual. If He keeps intervening at every skirmish, they’ll all grow up to be a bunch a childish tattle tales who can’t behaviour appropriately, and can’t influence each other to behave appropriately. Worse yet, none of them will learn the habit of referring back to the Head Teacher’s Guidebook for best practice.
The problem that the Head Teacher has, at this point in HIStory, is that none of His kids are perfect. While the nation had clearly disappointed Father God by rejecting His Guidebook for LIFE, it seems that His prodigy (set apart from birth for this leadership role), had grown up either spoilt or lacking in EQ (emotional intelligence). But there’s always a story behind the story and, if we’re willing to trust the Creator God for HIStory, there’s likely to be a logical explanation behind everything.
Short of finding a perfect representative, and for all we know, Samson’s outrageous behaviour may have been the result of something very explainable. Before we write off the Creator God, for allowing such a lunatic on the rampage, Samson may have had Asperger’s Syndrome. Perhaps, to begin with, this is why…
He viewed his relationship with this Philistine girl and her family, as free from bias and discrimination -not based on race or other differences. [c14:1-2]
Those with Asperger’s have an alternate way of seeing things and their solutions to life’s challenges. [c14:4]
They pursue ideas they believe in, without being deterred by what others say – hence his apparent refusal to take advice from his parents. [c14:3]
They have an acute sensitivity to specific sensory experiences – remember the lion and the honey. [c14:5-9]
They’re direct, and speak their mind (his behaviour at the wedding) but they’re honest – which is possibly why he was absolutely “livered” when they cheated on his riddle along with his wife’s betrayal. [c14:3&16; c15:1]
Those with Asperger’s are also persistent, and when they set their minds to something, or make a promise, they can be trusted to follow through. Samson wouldn’t stop, until he’d fulfilled his own words. [v3-5]
They have an acute sense of noting and recalling details – especially those that angered his sharp sense of justice – thus the appearance of headstrong pursuit of revenge. [v3]
Speaking their minds regardless of the social context, the strength of those with Asperger’s is in devotion to duty, unfazed with solving problems and meeting challenges. Samson forcefully faced challenges head on. [v8,14-15]
They don’t mind being alone and are often willing to engage in solitary work. Samson was clearly a lone ranger. [v8]
They’re also inclined to be bullies – which may explain Samson’s direct demands on those around him and his anger trait.[p]
I’m not making excuses for Samson’s behaviour, but I am suggesting that there will always be a logical explanation if the Creator God’s justice and righteousness come into question.[q] Whatever our strengths or flaws, and the mess we get ourselves into when we float about in the freedom of liberal governance, today’s chapter shows me that Father God is a loving Father, who loves His children even in spite of our flaws. Like any good father, He will discipline His people.[r] But He also comes without reservation to our rescue, when we call to Him. And so, today’s chapter ends with two more scenes…
Samson’s ropes miraculously disintegrate, then the power of God came mightily upon him so that he could save himself against 1,000 armed soldiers. [v14-16] But with his energy spent, and feeling as though he was on the point of death, Samson cried out for water. Overlooking Samson’s faults again (in the way he directly spoke his mind, instead of asking politely), Father God’s loving-kindness provided once more.[s]
So, I leave today’s chapter knowing the strife that I can drift into when my lifestyle and belief system is one of unbridled liberal governance. Yet, in spite of who I am, if I’m at all willing to return back to my Maker and His Guidebook for LIFE, He’s more than willing to rescue me. Regardless of my personality flaws and who I’ll never be, He IS; when I can’t, He can; when I fail, He won’t; when I’m weak, He’s strong; when I’m alone, He’s there; when I let go, He holds on, and when I won’t, He will…
CLICK to return to today’s “Daily Breadcrumbs”
[b] Matthew 26:74
[c] John 21:15-19
[d] Romans 12:14
[e] James 3:8-10
[f] Deuteronomy 28:15-68
[g] Romans 8:31-39
[h] Ephesians 3:13
[i] Hebrews 6:8
[j] Judges 13:1
[k] Deuteronomy 2:23
[l] Judges 14:4
[m] Isaiah 45:21
[n] Romans 3:10-12 (Extracted from Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3 & Ecclesiastes 7:20)
[o] Judges 13:5
[q] Deuteronomy 32:4
[r] Deuteronomy 8:5; Proverbs 3:11-12 and Hebrews 12:6
[s] Psalm 17:7; 31:21; 36:7; 63:3; 69:16 & 117:2 (See also Isaiah 54:8 & 63:7)