TODAY’S READING: JUDGES 14-16
How do you regard Samson?
When you read his story, do you say to yourself, “Samson was such a fool. How could demand a wife from the Philistines? What was he doing sleeping with a prostitute? How could be so stupid to fall for the seduction of Delilah?”
When you read his story, do you think about how physically strong Samson was? Do you think that after his encounters with each woman he went on a rage and a slaughtered his enemies?
Or, do you see deeper into the story of Samson? Do you look beyond the dead images and the dead letters of the Old Testament? Do you regard Samson by the Spirit and faith?
How you regard Samson says a lot about your relationship with the Lord.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO REGARD?
Before we get into how we regard Samson, it might be helpful to look at the meaning of regard.
- to consider and appraise usually from a particular point of view
- to pay attention to; to take into consideration or account
- a. to show respect or consideration for and b. to hold in high esteem
- to look at
We can regard things from many angles. For example, I am a white male aged 42 from Cincinnati, OH in the U.S. You can regard me from any of one of those demographic pieces of information. If you regard me by my skin color, then you will compare me against people of other skin colors. Your regard for my skin color then will form the basis of your action to or opinion about me. Based on how you regard my skin color, you will assign a worth or a value to me.
WHAT DOES GOD REGARD?
Genesis 4:3-4 says, “In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.”
Why did God regard Abel’s offering and not Cain’s?
Abel was a keeper of sheep. He specifically brought the firstborn of his sheep and their fat portions. Throughout scripture, both the firstborn and the fat portion represent the best. Abel offered his best to the Lord.
Cain was a tiller of the ground. Like Abel, he offered what he had. However, we are told that Cain simply gave an offering. There is not indication that Cain gave the best of the fruit of the ground.
Did God regard Abel’s offering merely because it was his best? Or, was there another factor at play that cause God to regard Abel’s offering and not Cain’s?
Hebrews 11:4 says, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts.”
Why did God regard Abel and his offering?
God regards faith.
How do we get faith?
Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
How do we hear the words of Christ? Who speaks the word of Christ to us?
In John 14:26, Jesus says, “Bu the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
The Holy Spirit speaks the word of Christ to you.
So, what, or who, does God regard?
God regards spiritual things not material things. God regards heavenly things not earthly things.
HOW ARE WE TO REGARD PEOPLE?
In 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, Paul says, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Paul says that we once regarded Jesus only according to the flesh, the natural, the earthly. But, we no longer regard Jesus this way. Now, we regard Jesus in the Spirit, which is how God regards him and has always regarded him. Therefore, since we regard Christ this way, we no longer regard anyone according to the flesh.
Did you catch that?
We regard no one, not a single a person, according to the flesh anymore. We are only to regard people according to the Spirit, just like God does.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”
Now, many of you are saying, “But, Paul says if anyone is in Christ. Not everyone is in Christ. Not everyone is a believer. Only believers are in Christ. Therefore, I only regard believers, the people in Christ, according to the Spirit. Only those people are new creations.”
Are you sure about that?
John 1:3 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through and for him.”
Everything, that is everything, was created by Christ and for Christ.
Therefore, Ephesians 1:9-10 says that God, “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Other translations say “the summing up of all things in Christ.”
When time is complete, when the fullness of time has come, everything – visible and invisible, material and immaterial, of heaven and of earth – will be in Christ.
So, who is in Christ?
Only a select few?
Try all things are in Christ. Everyone is in Christ.
Therefore, if everyone is in Christ, then we are to regard everyone as a new creation. We are to regard them as the old – the fleshly, the earthly, the natural – has gone and the new – the spiritual and the heavenly – has come. Notice very carefully that Paul says “the new has come.” Past tense. The new is already here.
In 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, Paul gives an example of exactly what he means about regarding no one according to the flesh.
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God, Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small things that I should be judged by you or any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
We are to see everyone as a new creation, to regard them according to the Spirit. This is what keeps us from pronouncing judgment before the time. What time? The fullness of time.
At the fullness of time, Jesus will bring to light the things that are now hidden in darkness. What, or who, is hidden in darkness? The hearts, the souls, the spirits of all people. When Jesus comes he shine a light on us to that are true selves, the new creations that we are to regard people as now, that have been hidden in darkness will be able to be seen by all. At last the true purposes of our heart will be revealed. The darkness will be removed.
At this time, when all things are in Christ and everyone is revealed as a new creation, “then each one will receive his commendation from God.” Each sounds limiting. But, the Greek word for each also means every. “Then every one will receive his commendation from God.”
We are to regard everyone, believer or not, according to the Spirit and the new creation already has come.
HOW ARE GOD AND WE TO REGARD SAMSON?
If God regards everyone according to the Spirit and we are to regard everyone according to the Spirit, then what about Samson? He was with bad women and did a lot of crazy stuff.
So, how are God and we to regard Samson?
By faith. By the Spirit.
Hebrews 11 is the chapter that lists so many people of faith in the Old Testament. No one them were perfect. All of them sinned. But, the author of Hebrews, just like God, only records and only regards them according to what they did by faith.
Hebrews 11:32-33 says, “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets – who through faith…”
REGARD SAMSON BY THE SPIRIT
If you when think about Samson you think of him in terms of the questions I asked at the beginning of this post, then you are regarding Samson according to the flesh.
Time is failing me right now to show you in every way how we are to regard Samson by faith, by the Spirit. But, I do want to give you a glimpse of how we are to regard Samson according to the Spirit.
Revelation 21:1 says, “The I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” This is a new creation. But, remember all things are in Christ.
The remainder of Revelation shows the marriage of heaven and earth, all things being made new, all things being summed in Christ. The last verse of the Bible says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.” Notice the lack of a qualifier on the all. It’s just all get the grace of Jesus.
So, we have a picture of all things being united, or married, to the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. When we regard Samson according to the Spirit, this is exactly the picture that we see.
In Judges, we read of Samson being with three women that an Israelite should not have been with. One was uncircumcised. One was a prostitute. And, one was a seductress, a woman of fleshly lust. But, after his time with each woman, we see Samson do something that is very reminiscent of Jesus on the cross, reconciling the world to God.
Therefore, when we regard Samson according to the Spirit, we see him as Jesus bringing all people, these women who were not “worthy,” into unity with God.
WHO WAS SAMSON IN THE SPIRIT
The name Samson comes from the Hebrew shemesh, which means sun. Samson literally means Sun Man, although some give it a meaning of sun-like or splendid sun.
Revelation 21:23 says, “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
Revelation 22:5 says, “And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light.”
Samson is a picture of the Jesus as the Sun Man that gives light to everything replacing the sun. Did you ever notice that the word sun is not found in the creation account? When Jesus replaces the sun as the light for the city, he will restore creation to its original state.
Samson was a Danite. The name Dan means judge or judging. He is a picture of Jesus as judge.
Jesus defeated and judged all his enemies on the cross.
What was the judgment that Jesus spoke on the cross?
In Luke 23:34, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus’ judgment was to forgive us, to forgive all.
This is why we see Samson with three women he should not have been with.
Samson’s father was named Manoah. The name Manoah is identical to the noun manoah, which means place or condition of rest. The place of rest is the throne. Here we Samson as Jesus, the Sun Man, who comes from the Father who is on the throne.
REGARD SAMSON AS JESUS GETTING A BRIDE FOR HIMSELF
The first woman that Samson is with is a daughter of the Philistines from Timnah. In Judges 14:2, Samson tells his parents, “Now get her for me as my wife.” But, his parents ask, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” Samson responded, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”
Timnah means allotted portion or portion assigned. Jesus came to get his allotted portion, all the people the Father gave him (John 6:37-39).
The Philistines were a people that migrated, moved to and fro, wandered, deviated from the true course. They are a picture of Gentiles, for they were uncircumcised, that walked according to the ways of the world. The Philistines had five lords, which are a picture of our five natural senses that rule us until we are born again by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
Therefore, this daughter of the Philistines was a Gentile. Throughout the Bible, the bride of Christ is pictured as a Gentile.
Samson’s parents did not want him to marry a Gentile woman, someone from a people uncircumcised. But, Samson said, “She is right in my eyes.”
How was this? What does this reveal about Jesus? How are we, his Gentile bride, right in his eyes?
Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed by the washing of the water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, that she might be holy and without blemish.” We are right in the eyes of Jesus to be his bride. He makes us so.
As you read through the rest of the account of Samson and this daughter of the Philistines from Timnah, put Jesus into the middle of the story.
The Spirit rushes upon Samson and tears a roaring lion with nothing in his hands. Samson tore the lion as one tears a goat. This is a picture of Jesus defeating Satan, the roaring lion, by his word, with nothing in his hands.
Samson gives a riddle, “Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong came something sweet.” Again, this pictures Jesus.
The devil, Satan, prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour. Satan is the eater. He thought he ate Christ on the cross. But, out of the eater came something to eat, Jesus’s flesh, his broken body, that is the bread of heaven, the bride of life, that we are to eat always.
In Mark 3:27, Jesus calls Satan a strong man. But, out of the strong man come something sweet, honey. God’s words are sweeter than honey. We heard God’s ultimate word through Jesus on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” How sweet is that word!!!
Notice at the end of this story with the daughter of the Philistines that Samson is thirsty, saying that he will die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised. This, of course, is a picture of Christ on the cross.
For Samson, God split open a hollow place and water came out. Samson drank and his spirit revived. Jesus was buried in a tomb, but God split it open, resurrecting Jesus with the power of the Spirit.
REGARD SAMSON AS JESUS GETTING A WOMAN FOR THE FATHER
After the daughter of the Philistine, Samson went to Gaza, saw a prostitute, and went into her.
The name Gaza means strong or strong place.
The Old Testament is filled with statements that Israel played the whore, prostituting herself, with idols and false gods. But, Israel is also pictured as God’s wife. Therefore, when we regard Samson according to the Spirit we see him as Jesus getting back God’s wife, Israel, who prostituted herself to the gods of this world.
The account of Samson and the prostitute is short. It ends with Judges 16:3, which says, “But Samson lay till midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts, and pulled them, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is in front of Hebron.”
The gate of the city was the seat of government. It was a place of strength. While the Gazites plotted to kill Samson, he destroyed their government and power. Samson was victorious.
But, what a picture of Jesus on the cross. The Jews, the Roman government, the world, plotted to kill Jesus. But, he took their ultimate judgment, the cross, and put its two beams on his shoulders and carried them to Golgotha. What looked like Jesus’ defeat was actually his victory. He took the judgment of the world on his shoulders, defeated it, and now the government of God is on his shoulders.
REGARD SAMSON AS JESUS GETTING A WOMAN FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
After the prostitute, Samson “loved a woman in the Valley or Sorek, whose name was Delilah.” Delilah served the lords of the Philistines.
The name Delilah comes from the verb dalal, which means to be low or hang down, to dangle. Delilah likely means low life or lustful. She served the five lords of the Philistines, which as I mentioned above are a picture of our five natural senses. Delilah was ruled by her lusts, her passions, her evil desires.
In order to serve the lords of the Philistines, the gods of this world, Delilah constantly tried to seduce Samson to reveal the source of his strength. Three times Samson lied to her. However, the fourth time he told her the truth. It was only then that the lords of the Philistines could capture Samson.
The Philistines thought they had won. But, the hair on Samson’s head started to grow back. When they brought Samson out of the prison to entertain them, Samson put his hands on two pillars and asked the Lord to strengthen him this one time. “Then he bowed with all his strength.” He brought the house of the lords of the Philistines down. So, those he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.”
Again, what a picture of the victory of Jesus.
The Jews constantly tried to trick Jesus, to trap him. But, Jesus always escaped. Until his hour had come. Then, like Samson who willingly revealed the source of his strength, Jesus willingly laid down his life. No one took it from him.
Jesus went down into the earth, the strong man’s house, the prison that held people captive. The earth is considered Satan’s kingdom. Jesus says that Satan is the ruler of this world. The Bible says that the earth, Satan’s kingdom is held up with pillars. Like Samson, Jesus tore down the pillars holding up Satan’s kingdom when he stretch his arm out the right and his other arm to the left on the cross. It was on the cross that Jesus defeated Satan, the god of this world.
Just like Samson, Jesus killed more in his death than in his life.
Wait a minute, Jesus killed? How so?
When we receive the Spirit, the flesh, the old man dies. It is in this sense that Jesus “kills.”
In his life, Jesus breather out his Spirit upon disciples (John 20:22). But, in his death, the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh. In the first sermon ever preached by the church, Peter quoted the prophet Joel and said, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” (Acts 2:17)
Notice the lack of qualifiers. The Spirit will be poured out on all flesh. This is why we are to regard everyone according to the Spirit and not the flesh anymore.
Now, instead of men being ruled by their five earthly senses, men can be filled with the Spirit to be “controlled” by him.” It’s in this sense that Samson pictures Jesus as getting a woman for the Holy Spirit.
If we regard Samson according to the flesh, then we will to see the full glory of Jesus. If we regard Samson according to the flesh, then we will fail to see the whole Bible as a witness to Jesus.
So, we need to regard Samson, the Bible, and everyone, according to the Spirit to see the new creation that Jesus has brought.