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 NLT
I was reading a chapter for a bible study about thorns in life. Next to the stick-figure face with pointy horns, it reads the devil is the one who gives us thorns. It felt really good to read that. I had someone to blame for pain in my life. I had a way to make sense of the yucky stuff I’ve experienced. My mind wandered to Job, and God’s offer to Satan, “Have you considered my servant?”
All that tragedy, God approved. I struggled with it. But I still had Satan to blame. Here in Judges, the word “again.” Again, they did evil, and this time, the Lord handed them over to the Philistines. Again, they returned to sin–and God let them go into the consequence.
Samson wants a wife, and the impression I get is that his parents weren’t too thrilled with his choice. But he insists on that one.
His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this, creating an opportunity to work against the Philistines, who ruled over Israel at that time. Judges 14:4 NLT.
He gets that girl. She betrays him by telling the answer to his riddle. He goes and kills thirty men. Later sets crops on fire. Goes into hiding, only to kill 1,000 more men. All the while, there’s a lot of blaming. “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer”; “Because you did this, I won’t rest until I take revenge upon you”; “I only did to them what they did to me.”
Sometimes tragedy comes upon us–hand selected and delivered by Satan. And sometimes we bring it upon ourselves. Either way, God will use it for good–because He is good. Samson seems a bit self-entitled and vengeful. But God let Samson continue in his way to eventually reveal His strength.
In the New Testament, Jesus is talking about the one lost sheep–and wouldn’t the shepherd leave the flock to search for the missing one? Jesus, the one the Pharisees complained about because he kept company with sinners, (this man who came to heal the sick, because the healthy don’t need a doctor) the one who will go after the one lost sheep. (I love him for that!)
Joy repeats in Luke. And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! (Luke 15:5-7, NLT).
Lord, that I could be more aware of my sin so that I can turn from it to bring you joy. I want to walk with you–not away from you! You love me, still, to find this lost sheep–with joy, claiming me as yours. I am grateful that you have power over evil, to bring good from it. Your power made perfect in my weakness. Help me to see. Help me to turn from it and return to you.