Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Making a Wrong Choice

O. T. #548  "Making a Wrong Choice"
June 30, 2015
Judges 18
And they set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh. Judges 18:31


If your friends jumped over a cliff, would you do likewise? If they jumped into a pond, would you follow them? How many times did we ask our children that after they made a wrong choice? If America makes the wrong choices of laws, which disobey God's laws, which will we follow? One of Israel's tribes, the Danites, followed their brothers, making a wrong choice. How sad.

I thought the Danites were going to rescue the young Levite from Micah's house of idol worship where he was paid to be his priest. Let's back up. Five men of the tribe of Dan, the weakest tribe only numbering 65,000 men, went to spy out the northern land, so they could conquer more land for their tribe. Actually, they should have conquered the allotted land years earlier, which was their inheritance, their Promised Land. But no, they continued to allow the Amorites and Philistines to remain in it. (Samson failed to achieve his purpose.) Wanting a more secure land, the spies entered into the land of Ephraim, heading north, coming to Micah's house.

Having failed to conquer their territory due to laziness and cowardice (1:34, Joshua 19:40-48), the Danites were still looking for a place to settle. Unlike the two previous spy missions, this mission lacked the Lord's authorization.  (D. Jeremiah)

Here is where they discovered and asked the young Levite 3 w questions-who, what, why?
Admitting to being hired as Micah's priest, the spies as him if their journey will be successful. Guys, are you sure you are asking the right person? After all, he is now a priest in idol worship, not Israel's and their God's worship. To me, the priest's encouragement did not mean much-God in peace. Your journey has the LORD's approval.  (verse 6)

Do we seek advice and counsel from the right person? Why do we not go to the Savior, for He knows all things?


The spies went northward about a hundred miles from home, seeing a new settlement. Thy wandered into a settlement with fertile soil, populated with Phoenician people, an area named Laish.

These people were: careless, quiet, and secure (at peace and ease), and had no treaties with neighbors to protect them. It seemed an ideal place for the battle-weary Danites to conquer. The spies returned home, informing others of their find. As a result, 600 men were sent to take the city as warriors. Along their way, the men who were the 5 previous spies stopped at Micah's gate, took the carved image, ephod, and other gods, inviting the Levite priest to go along with them. Later on down the road, Micah comes and argues with Danites, but returns home since he was outnumbered.

The Danites were successful in conquering the city of Laish. However, they made the mistake of setting up for themselves the idols to worship. Remember, they had no king nor judge to direct them in their spiritual journey. What a sad story.

What can we learn from this?
  • When you have a religion that you can make, someone else can take.
  • With the Ark of God being far away, they justified their idolatry by their distance from the rest of Israel.
  • Disobedience (as the Levitical priest was) distances one from God.
  • Church leaders should be motivated to serve God and His people rather than by dishonest gain (1 Tim. 3:8).
  • The tribe of Dan turned to idol worship rather than worship of God.
  • True worship was available in Shiloh while false worship continued in Dan during this period.
  • In those days, every man did what was right in their own eyes. (17:6)


Choose to obey God and His Word rather than disobey or turn away.

Don't let sin distance myself from my loving God.

Even though others may be doing what they deem right in their own eyes, I shall obey God.

Stand up for Jesus for He is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE. (John 14:6)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Growing Sin

O. T. #547  "Growing Sin"
June 29, 2015
Judges 17
So he returned the silver to his mother, and she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who made them into the image and idol. And they were put in Micah's house.  Judges 17:4


Like a snowball rolling down a hill gets bigger attaching more snow, sin can grow bigger in our life until it consumes us and draws us away from God. We have to always be on the lookout for those things which attach to us in order to make us fall into sin. Micah should have recognized that his mother's request was a wrong thing for him to do (idolatry). We especially have to be alert to any sin lurking around our family or home.

Some think the last 5 chapters of the book of Judges are out of sequence with the chronology of the rest of the book and actually occurred during the early period of the judges. (Falwell)

Rabbinie commentators placed the story of Micah in the time of Othniel.  (Pfeiffer)

The spiritual condition and history of Israel is revealed during the time of the judges. Keeping in mind, the sin cycles were a repetition of repentance, worshiping God, then back into the sin of idolatry. We finished the seventh of those cycles. Now we read about the idolatry of Micah and the Danites. Since both Samson and Micah were of the tribe of Dan, it seems logical to place this story after Samson's.

In those days...
Israel had fallen from God's ways. God should have been Israel's King (Deut. 33:2-5), but there was no king. With no godly king or judge, every form of religion-and especially false religion-abounded, and much like today, everyone followed their own moral code, doing what was right in his own eyes. (The Jeremiah Study Bible)

What were the first two commands of the Ten Commandments which God gave to Moses back in Exodus 20? Love God and make no idols to worship.
Sounds like these people are headed for trouble.

Do we keep God's laws and commands in His Word as our foundation of faith and life? Or are we doing what we think best, doing what is right in our own eyes, not God's?


What is happening in verse 1:
  • There was this wealthy mother who lived on Mount Ephraim that had a son named Micah.
  • Someone stole 1,100 shekels of silver from the woman. She didn't know who had done it, so she pronounced a serious curse (probably in the name of Jehovah) upon the one who took it.
  • This woman's son, Micah, came confessing to his mother that he had taken her money. He probably feared the power of his mother's curse.
  • The mother's strange response was, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my son. James 3:10 tells us, Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
  • The son returned the money to his mother. (Perhaps she supposed the robber was one who would not return it, and she was relieved that it was her son who took it.)

Returning the money was a good thing for the son to do. At least he was honest about it. However, justifying the stealing is not. One thing leads to another. One sin leads to another when it is not confessed and stopped. Do we try to justify our sinful ways?


What else happened? The story didn't stop there.
  • This woman claimed that she had dedicated this silver to the Lord, but then she gives her son 200 shekels of silver to have a graven image and a molten image made. This was not in accordance with the Mosiac Law.
  • These idols were placed in the house of Micah as a shrine, along with other idols. He had an ephod and terraphim as additional idols.
  • One of Micah's sons became priest over the idols. Ugh!
  • Then an unnamed young man, who was a Levite, wandered into the area, ending up at the house of Micah.
  • Discovering he was unemployed and away from his normal responsibilities, Micah lured him to their private family priest. (The Levite priests of God were assigned to serve in certain cities.)
  • This man accepted the offer of 10 shekels of silver a year.
  • Micah consecrated the young man, assuming the Lord would do good to him, since he had a Levite priest.
This house ignored the content of the Law of the Israelites. The Levite and Micah went deeper into apostasy. How sad!
A mother's request or a son's asking of a favor isn't always the best thing to do. We need discernment.

Do we try to justify our sin or confess it to the Lord and tern from it? If we don't, then we will get deeper into the cycle of sin like Micah's family did. Take heed lest we should fall.


                             ... of those little sins before they grow into bigger ones.
                             ... of sinful habits before our family gets into them.
                             ... of it before it gets hold of me and hurts my testimony.
                             ... by searching my heart for any idols taking God's place.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

He Brought the House Down

O. T. #546  "He Brought the House Down"
June 27, 2015
Judges 16-Part 4
So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. 
Judges 16:30


Have you ever spent an evening laughing your head off, laughing so hard you ribs and stomach muscles hurt? We were guest at a seminary banquet with Graddy Nut as the entertainer. I have never laughed so hard and long in all my life. He brought the house down, as they say. Well, Samson did the same thing, only it was in his death that he brought the house down.

The strong Samson, purposed to deliver Israel from the ruling of the Philistines, finds himself blind, with his face to the grind, living through the daily grind. What has happened to him is this-Samson gave away the secret of his strength, not cutting his hair, which was an outward expression of consecration to the Lord in the Nazirite vow, to Delilah, who received money for the endeavor.

Yet, his hair grew back. (verse 22)
In the end, Samson's faith was still in his God, not the pagan god, Dagan. He prays, asking the Lord for strength just one more time, one more chance to get it right. Apparently, he repented of his sin, for God gave him one more chance to act by faith. Samson wanted to win one more victory over the enemy. God answered his prayer, but in defeating others, Samson died. He slew more in his death than in his life. (verse 30)

Friend, so you need one more chance to get it right? To come back to the right path that you strayed off? God still loves us, even when we fail Him. He is waiting with open arms, the place where we belong as His child.

Even when it hurts, God will have His way, His will accomplished.
Are we willingly doing it, or do we have to get our eyes punched out to see the truth about our self?

No matter how far God's people fall away, His purposes are not jeopardized and the story is not yet finished. God would yet work through Samson to accomplish the purpose for which he was born; delivering the people of Israel from the Philistines.  (David Jeremiah)


I know, we jumped ahead to the end of the story, the end of Samson's life on earth.
Samson lost a lot during his life, due to his sins:
  • his hair, a symbol of dedication to God,
  • his strength, of which he is ignorant until overpowered,
  • the light, with his eyes put out by the Philistines,
  • his liberty, binding him with fetters of brass,
  • his usefulness to the Lord, ending up grinding corn instead of fighting God's battles, and
  • his testimony, being a laughingstock of the Philistines. (Wiersbe)
What happened?
  • Like an animal, the helplessly blind and captured Samson was used to grind grain, like an ox at the mill, for the Philistines.
  • When the Philistines gathered for a great feast to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon (father of Baal) their god, they rejoiced, giving their pagan deity credit for capturing Samson. (verses 23-24) They believed Samson was acknowledging the supremacy of their god over him when he was grinding the grain.
  • Then, the Philistines brought Samson out into the Dagan temple, with courtyards, to make sport of him. Sport means to play, laugh, make merry, mock, in the Hebrew language.
  • They tied Samson between two wooden pillars planted in a stone foundation, under the edge of the roof of this building, which had at least 3,000 in attendance. He was their trophy.
  • Then Samson prayed, asking God for strength one more time, another chance to do His will.
  • He brought the roof down-killed more with his death than in his life. (verse 30)
  • Who recorded this, but the lad that led Samson to the pillars. This boy had been Samson's attendant, who willingly stayed with him in the prison. He must have been allowed to escape this tragedy.(verse 26)
What a tragic picture of a man of God fully equipped to serve the Lord, but whose service is rendered ineffective by his passion and lust. (Falwell)

God gave Samson strength one more time. Was it his last chance to serve Him? Isn't He the God of second chances?

Samson died for the cause of his country and his God. He was willing to give up his own life for them. Did you know Samson is listed in Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith? (verse 30)

Victory came only as he was broken, humiliated, and blind. He could no longer look to himself. (Guzik)

Samson had great potential, even was a judge in Israel for 20 years, yet wasted that potential for personal pleasure.

Did you pick up on this while studying Samson's life and death-he is remembered for the bad things/disobedience of God?

How will people remember you when you're dead and gone? Faithful or selfish living?


Surrender now before I have to loose something to get me to where God wants me.

Live by faith, not by sight.

Pray before times get worse.

Give my potential to God for His use and glory.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Secrets, Sins, and Strengths

O. T. #545  "Secrets, Sins, and Strengths"
June 25, 2015
Judges 16-Part 3
But he did not know that the LORD had left him. Judges 16:20c


Do you have any secret sins, kept hidden from others? Well, God knows all about it, friend. We might as well confess them now. The longer we wait, the less is our spiritual strength to overcome the temptations in the world. Samson made a mess of his life because of the same thing, secret sins unconfessed.

Samson gave halfhearted replies to Delilah, his lover, who was seeking the secret of Samson's strength. Three times he played the game, which resulted in her becoming more angry, so angry that she nagged him all the time about it.

Then Samson told Delilah everything, pouring out his heart with the truth: No razor has been used on my head, because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.
 (verse 17 NIV)

The importance of the uncut hair was that it was one of the signs of the vow; his physical strength was the particular gift he had from God as a result of his consecration to Him. His loss of strength was clearly attributed to the departure of the Spirit from him. (Falwell)

Her man poured out his deepest secret to a heartless Delilah. (Typical of a prostitute) She was a greedy woman who used her womanly ways to induce mighty Samson into a heavy sleep, sent word to her bribers. Samson rendered himself useless to the Lord's service. He didn't even know when the
Spirit of the Lord departed from him. (verse 20)

Do we cause others to stumble into sin? Are we aware of our influence upon our husband, children, coworkers? Are we drawing them to a closer walk with the Lord or away into sin?


What happened to Samson after his revealing the source of his strength?
  • He couldn't shake himself free as before. His freedom to do a he wanted to do without consequences came to a halt.  His sin bound him as the Philistines bound him hand and foot with bronze shackles.
  • They gouged out his eyes; his eyes caused Samson to be attracted to ungodly relationships without restraint. He lived according to what was right in his own eyes, loosing his eyesight as a result.
  • The Philistines took him down to Gaza.
  • They made Samson grind in the prison as an animal was used to grind at a mill, paraded through the city in helplessness.
  • His sin caused Samson to forfeit the power of God's presence.
What can we learn from such disobedience toward God?
  • God can use us, but we won't benefit from it.
  • Our life could end in personal tragedy, like Samson's did, when wasting great potential for kingdom work.
  • All we have to do is turn our heart back to God and receive His mercies.
  • No matter how far we fall away from God, His purposes are not jeopardized, for He is still in control.
  • Jesus wants to claim Lord over our entire life, not just parts of it.
  • We should take seriously our vows made to God; He expects us to keep them.
  • Don't play with fire, lest we get burnt.
  • Trust and obey, for that is the only way to be happy in Jesus.


Don't be blinded by the lusts of the world.

Daily come to Jesus.

Use my eyes to see the needs of others.

Surrender to God now, not waiting until...

Live by faith, not by sight.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oh, The Games People Play

O. T. #544  "Oh, The Games People Play"
June 24, 2015
Judges 16-Part 2
with such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death.  Judges 16:16


Here is the third woman in Samson's life that is mentioned. Delilah's residence was in the Valley of Sorek, which was near the hometown of Samson at Zorah. We realize that Samson's weakness was for women of low character and of Philistine loyalty. He continually went to see his Delilah daily, falling in love with her.
Word gets around about this judge's activity. The lords of the Philistines went to bribe his girl into discovering the secret of Samson's strength. These were the 5 lords of the Pentapolis. Now, they each offered her 1,100 pieces of silver, which totaled 5,500 pieces of silver for betraying Samson into their hands.

David Jeremiah explains that stunning amount was 550 times the annual wage and 3 times more units of silver than the units of gold Gideon received after defeating the Midianite kings (8:26).

Oh, the games people play:
  • Delilah played the bribe game. Her love was for sale; they bought her off.
  • She played the deceit game. Using her loving ways (using the term lightly), it took 4 tries to find out the secret of Samson's strength.
  • Samson played the lying game, telling her his strength would cease if such a thing happened.
  • Samson played the secret game, avoiding the truth of his strength, which was a part of the Nazirite vow of not cutting his hair.
  • Finally, due to his own doings, Samson played the humility game, loosing his strength, eye sight, and position  whenever he revealed its secret.
Do we play games? Do we have a price at which we can be bought? Do we deceive others, even lie for our advantage? Are we hiding a deep dark secret? Does it take our being humbled by the truth for us to come to repentance?
Maybe we aren't like that, but know people who are. Are we praying for them?


Each time Delilah tried to use her womanly ways to get the secret of Samson's strength so she could tell the Philistines and get her pay off. What were the false answers he told her?
  1. Bind him with 7 strong bowstrings not dried, (verse 7)
  2. tie him up with new ropes, (verse 11)
  3. weave his locks of hair into the fabric of  on a loom and tighten it with a pin. (verse 13)
Delilah's tears, pleas, and sex did not get her what she wanted, the secret from Samson. So she changed her tactic-nagging. Her daily nagging was nagging him to death. What man could stand up under such an attack? This was the turning point in the story and life of Samson.

Why didn't Samson quit going to see her? Or why didn't he refuse to tell her, end of discussion, instead of giving false hopes with lies? He made Delilah out to be a fool, then she turned the table and he became the fool. Why didn't Samson reveal the truth that God supplied his strength?

Do we beat around the bush with people instead of coming right out and telling them the truth, or no?


Be a truthful person.

Don't give excuses.

Stay faithful to God.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Carrying Heavy Burdens

O. T. #543  "Carrying Heavy Burdens"
June 23, 2015
Judges 16
And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.  Judges 16:2


What would it be like to carry a city gate 38 miles, up hill? Do you ever feel like you are doing that when your burdens or problems get so heavy because you are carrying them around all day long, day after day? Why can't I let go of them and let Jesus carry them?

As we look at the first three verses of this chapter, keep in mind that Samson was a judge in Israel for 20 years. Also, we have an advantage point of being able to look back upon the event of Samson's life, whereas, he was living in the middle of them. I wonder if this man got bored at the elevated life he lived, desiring some excitement. Whatever, he still had a personal weakness that reflected the character of the nation itself, continuing to play with fire, visit the enemy. If you play with fire, you'll get burned.
As previously mentioned, Samson's weakness was obviously a love for women. This man who strangled a lion and killed a thousand men single-handedly couldn't conquer his own passion and lust. The Word mentions three particular ones: the girl at Timnath, whom he married; the prostitute at Gaza, and Deliliah.
So we pick up in verse one where this Hercules of a man named Samson goes to Gaza. Now, Gaza is 38 miles down the mountain, deep into Philistine (enemy) territory. How can the Israelite hero wander casually into this major city undetected? Doesn't sound like a smart move to me.

Do we presume that God doesn't care when we go down into sin? That He fluffs it off as "boys will be boys" or "that's the way gals are?" Maybe they will eventually get it?
As a warning, we should not mess with the sin of presumption-He forgives sin anyway. The Lord has His standards for us to live by and we should strive to do so to our best ability. However, I know we aren't perfect, but intentional sin is saying we don't care. God could snap His fingers and take us out of this world into the next. His grace and mercy sustains us.

How many burdens do we needlessly carry on our shoulders?
Caste your cares upon Him for He cares for you.


Well, Samson saw this woman, who was a prostitute (a female innkeeper and regular business woman). He stayed with her until the middle of the night, then took hold of the doors of the city gate along with the 2 posts. Then he carried them upon his shoulders to the top of the hill, back home. What a feat-carry the entire gate uphill for 38 miles! But that was Samson. The gate would have been his trophy, a sign of triumph over the powerful Philistines.

Apparently, his presence was found out because the Gazites were waiting quietly for him all night at the city gate, planning to kill Samson the next morning. Keep in mind that they locked the gate at night for protection.

Falwell concludes that Samson was an unwanted guest and his intentions were not the best.

Why didn't Samson just marry one of the Israelite women, like he should have done?
Why didn't he stay put where he was supposed to be?
Why did he make that long walk down to the enemy city?
So many questions; no answers. Hind sight is 20/20.


Stay put until God moves me.

Don't stray away on my own.

Keep focused on Jesus and His purpose for my life.

Caste my cares upon Jesus.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reconcilitaion or Retaliation

O. T. #542  "Reconciliation or Retaliation?
June 22, 2015
Judges 15
Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. (verse 1)
I won't stop until I get revenge on you. (verse 7)


Have you ever attempted to reconcile a broken relationship only to be refused? How insulting and hurtful it can be for us. The same thing happened to Samson, the one chosen to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.

As a review, Samson went back to Daddy's house after he married a Philistine gal who turned his head, killed 30 Philistines in order to pay his debt because he was so angry that some guys found out the answer to his riddle by threatening her. While he was there, Samson's father in law gave his wife to his best man.

So during the time of wheat harvest, when the men would be in the fields, Samson tactfully made his move, returning to his father in law's house. He even brought a token of reconciliation, a young goat, showing this family that there was nothing for them to fear. He wanted his wife. Perhaps this dad feared the Philistines if he turned on the new husband, but he also feared Samson because he offered a second daughter to him. (This was insulting and unlawful in Leviticus 18:18.)

It takes humility for one to say they are sorry and sincerely mean it. Sometimes our attempt at reconciling a relationship is accepted and other times it is refused. What we do next is vitally important. Do we try again? Do we get angry and think, "If that's how you feel, forget it" ? Do we retaliate and try to hurt them? Or do we lovingly and prayerfully turn to the Lord for wisdom?


Ole Sammy didn't try again nor did he seek the Lord for wisdom in the situation he got himself into. No sir, he was going to make those Philistines pay for their hurting him. They certainly did pay.

Samson, insulted and provoked to fleshly resentment, took vengeance on the Philistines. It must have taken a while to catch so many foxes or jackals and keep them penned and fed until the number reached 300. Apparently, he tied them in pairs with a slow-burning torch, sending the pairs down the hills into fields thrashing with fire, igniting all the standing grain so dry at harvest. This was a loss of great proportion to Philistine farmers. The MacArthur Bible Commentary)

What happened next?
  • Not only did Samson burn the wheat fields, but also  corn, vineyards, and olive groves. When the Philistines found out it was Sammy who was responsible for all of this destruction, they retaliated by burning Samson's wife and her father. 
  • Because of this act of cruelty, Samson killed those responsible and fled to a cave.
  • Then 3,000 men from Judah visited Samson, asking him what he had done. They had come to hand him over to the Philistines, and did so tying him with 2 new ropes.
  • As the Philistines approached Samson, the Lord gave him strength and  he slew 1,000 with the jawbone of a donkey.
  • Samson led Israel for 20 years in the days of the Philistines.
God gave miraculous power to Samson for destruction, but also to show fearful Israelites that He was with them, in spite of their lack of trust. (MacArthur)

Finally, Samson is accomplishing victory over the Philistines, which was God's purpose for his life all along. However, it took anger in Samson to do it.

Do we seek the Lord to loosen the chords of sin that has us bound? Are we allowing God to use us for His kingdom work? What does it take for God to get us to the point where we submit to do His will?


Submit to God's Word and ways.

Obey the Spirit's leading.

Follow Jesus.

Look for His miracles.

Reconcile when possible; live in peace.

Let God take the revenge on others who wrong me.

The disastrous events of his (Samson's) attempted marriage to one of their women turned his attitude against them in such a way that Yahweh could now use him to begin to deliver (13:5) Israel from the Philistines. (Falwell)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

If Only...

O. T. #541  "If Only..."
June 18, 2015
Judges 14-Part 2
And he said unto them, If ye had not...  Judges 14:18b


Did you notice that Samson made several trips down to the city of Timnath? (That's because his girl lived there among the Philistines.)
They include:
  1. When he made his first trip, Samson saw her, then told his parents to get her for his wife.
  2. During his second trip, when his parents with to contract the marriage, they got separated. Samson encountered a young lion and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily and was given strength to rip the lion's jaws apart with his bare hands. 
  3. There may have been up to a year that passed before the two got married. When he was returning, Samson turned off the path to look at the lion's carcass. He found a swarm of bees had made some honey in the carcass. This guy scooped it up into his hands, eating it along the way, giving some to his parents.
Do we trust in the Lord's strength when confronted with problems? Do we ask for His strength to endure whatever?


When it was time to go to the final arrangements for the wedding, the three went to the Philistines' city. As the custom was, Samson threw a party, the bride's parents selected 30 young men to be his companions around town.

Guys will be guys, as they say, and Samson challenged those men to solve his riddle, found in verse 14. If they couldn't solve it, they'd give him 30 fine linen robes and 30 sets of festive clothing. (If they could, Samson would do likewise.) Three days later they were still trying to figure it out. Then they approached Samson's new wife, threatening her to get the answer or they'd burn down her father's house with her in it.

Using her tears, as females often do, Samson's wife tried to get Samson to tell her the answer to his riddle. He refused. He had not even told his parents. The bride cried every time she was with her husband, during the celebration, so he would tell her, but he would not. Finally, after the seventh day, he told her the answer because she was tormenting him with her nagging.

The wife told the threatening men the riddle's answer. (verse 18)  Before the end of the 7th day, the men told Samson the answer.

Samson replied, "If you hadn't plowed with my heifer, you wouldn't have solved my riddle!"

He was aware of the source of their information.

What does Samson do?
  • He goes down to the town of Ashkelon,
  • kills 30 men,
  • takes their belongings,
  • gives their clothing to the men who solved his riddle,
  • is furious about the whole matter, and
  • returns home to live with his parents.  (His wife was given in marriage to the best man at Samson's wedding.) (NLT)
What drama! It was Samson's own fault in the first place. If only he had not challenged those guys to solve his riddle, if he had not gone down into the Philistine city, if he had not seen the beautiful girl, then all of that would not have happened.

Are we the same way? We tell someone, "If only you had not..., then this would not have happened.
Or we find our self in a mess, thinking, "If only I had not do that."
Hind sight is 20/20.

Reality is, we have to live with and in the consequences of our actions and decisions. That is why it is so important that we seek the Lord and His Word before doing or making them. Then we won't get into such messes, live to regret something. Oh, that we could remember that advice. (Me, especially)


Seek the Lord's will and ways before making a decision or actions.

Accept responsibility for my actions.

Learn from my mistakes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

She Looks Good

O. T. #540  "She Looks Good"
June 17, 2015
Judges 14
When he returned home, he told his father and mother, "A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me. ... She looks good to me."Judges 14:2,3c New Living Translation


Does it matter how we look today? Are we women dressing to attract men, exposing our body parts that should only be seen by our husband? Do we thrive on getting that second look from him? So many do this in the world. Too much competition out there. Or are we dressing conservatively, neatly, and not exposing them? Are we trying to get looks, cause a brother to stumble by sinning sinful thoughts concerning us? Or are we living and honoring  God with our clothes and body? Ladies, you can look good while using your looks for good. Let's teach the younger women the right values. Put some good and godly values back into our society. (I'll step down from my soap box now.)

Recall that the Philistines oppressed Israel for 40 years before Samson comes on the scene. His birth was planned by God so he could deliver them. All we know about his childhood is that Samson grew,  the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times.
Falwell categorizes Samson's life into two categories-events prior to the incident at Gaza and those afterwards.

Samson despised his Hebrew heritage. He was born to godly, praying parents, and undoubtedly was taught the commands of God as a child. However, Samson chose to please himself and not please God to accomplish his God-given task. (Surely his parents told Samson his purpose in life was to deliver Israel from the Philistines.)

He was given 20 years' time to begin to overcome the enemy, yet in the end, he himself was overcome by the enemy. (Wiersbe)

What a tragic and wasted life.
What is the first thing recorder that Samson did?
  • He went down to Timnath. Instead of staying in the borders of Israel, Samson went into enemy territory. Spiritually and geographically he went down. (The town was only 4 miles away from Samson's.) (verse 1)
  • He knew the laws of separation which God had given to the Jews, but he chose to ignore them.
  • Next, he told his parents to get the woman, not asking them. When they reminded their son of God's law, he defied them.
  • He wanted to marry this Philistine gal. (verse 2) Marrying the girl was breaking the Mosiac law regarding mixed marriages. (Ex. 34:16; Deut. 7:3)
  • She pleases me well refers to she looks good to me.
  • Rather than doing what is right and good in the sight of the Lord (Deut. 6:18), Samson did as everyone else that did what was right in his own eyes (17:6).
Well, Samson's parents could not see ahead that their sons' disobedience would be used by God for His glory. God is never responsible for evil acts, but He is so wise that He uses evil acts to accomplish His good purpose. (D. Jeremiah)

Samson sins here, although God is sovereign and was able to turn the situation to please Him (verse 4). He was not at a loss, but used the opportunity to work against the wicked Philistines and provide gracious help to His people. He achieved destruction of these people, not by an army, but by the miraculous power of one man.  (MacArthur)

I wonder what God's plan was. Certainly Samson took life into his own hands and lived for himself. I'm sure he regretted it after meeting God. How faithful the Lord is, even our rebellion He can turn out for good.

Are we following what God's Word says?
Are we faithful to Him or living for ourself?


Then the narrative divides itself in relation to the three women in Samson's life:
  1. the girl at Tunnath,
  2. the prostitute at Gaza, and
  3. Delilah of the Valley of Sorek. 
Here the first gal mentioned is the one Samson wants to marry. So Samson and his parents went down the valley with his parents to contract the marriage. (verse 5)

Why did his parents not refuse such a demand when they knew Samson was disobeying God? Hopefully, they were not afraid of the strongest man, yet their son. Who knows? Maybe Samson was extremely spoiled and they gave him anything he wanted. Whatever...

Are we as parents and grandparents directing our children in the ways of the Lord Jesus? Do we take opportunities to teach them?

We will pick up tomorrow with the strong man picking up something.


Know the Word of God so I can resist temptations to sin.

Turn to Him for strength to do so.

Teach others the right way to live, then live it out.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Blessed With Children

#539 "Blessed With Children"
June 16, 2015
Judges 13-Part 3
And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.  Judges 13:24


There is a 40 year old lady who is carrying her sixth child. She prepared their current home to be sold on the market. Then, she directed the packing to move to another home they purchased while homeschooling 4 of her 5 this year. (The youngest is 2, by the way.) Did I mention that she is a faithful wife? This superwoman is my daughter. I am so proud of her, her commitment to the Lord, and love for her family.

There is a guy who works part time at our tire shop. Not only that, he has a cattle farm in three places. Last week, he cut, baled, and hauled hay for the herd to eat this winter. To top it off, this last weekend the hard working guy took time to attend a family reunion, then went shopping with his wife and daughter. They are involved in church, too. This superman is my son. I am so proud of him and his love for the Lord and others.

Yes, I am so very blessed with wonderful children and know it! Many parents worry about their children and deal with the problems that result. If you are one, read Proverbs 3:5-6 for encouragement.

Shall we look at the last two verses of this chapter?
Jesus appeared twice to a woman, informing her that she would have a son, her dietary restrictions and the boy's Nazarite vow by which to live. He would deliver Israel from the Philistines. Her husband, Manoah, spoke with the Lord, offered a burnt offering. The Lord said His name was Secret, which means wonderful. Jesus did something wonderously-He ascended in the flame of the fire.

The miraculous disappearance of the angel caused Mannoah to realize miraculous disappearance of the angel cause Manoah to realize who He was. (Falwell)

Manoah was afraid they would die because they had seen God. Then his wife reasoned, if that were so, why would He have accepted the offering and revealed such things for their future.

Time passed. This chosen woman, though barren at the time of the encounter, became pregnant and gave birth to a son. The couple named the baby Samson, meaning sun.

God keeps His promises.
Are we trusting Him?


Years went by and...
  • The child, Samson grew, and the Lord blessed him. (verse 24)
  • The Spirit of the began to move upon Samson. (verse 25)
Samson's birth and early childhood are clearly stated to have been blessed of the Lord. Thus, God is involved from the very beginning of his life in the exploits that will follow, and apparently even during his youth the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times. Like other judges, he received this charismatic anointing for the task to which he was called. In Samson's case this meant spectacular human strength to wage a one-man campaign against the Philistines. (Liberty Bible Commentary)

Isn't it incredible that Israel's strongest man came from her weakest tribe. Doesn't God have a sense of humor?

Are we willing to follow and obey what God has for us to do? To let go of our plans to do His?


                                 ... of my plans to follow God's plans.
                                 ... of my fears and trust Him.
                                 ... of my weaknesses and turn to His strength.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Isn't He Wonderful?

O. T. #538  "Isn't He Wonderful?"
June 15, 2015
Judges 13-Part 2

And the Angel of the LORD said to him, "Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?"
Judges 13:18 The Jeremiah Study Bible
...Why asketh thou thus after My name, seeing it is secret? KJV


Often times, my husband tells another man that I have said how wonderful he is. They doubt him most of the time. Then I'll add: I have to say it so he doesn't tell a lie. Of course, we are both kidding.
There is One is today's lesson that is wonderful, beyond a doubt. Curious? Read on, friend.

What's going on? The Lord Jesus Himself appeared to a woman, Manoah's wife, Danites, not just once, but twice. This childless wife told her husband about the first visit and what was told her. This was unheard of, seeing women did not have a place in the priesthood or Temple service, only men. (He had appeared previously to only one other woman-Hagar.)
Keep in mind, the Philistines were oppressing Israel for 40 years now when this happened.

Though nameless in Scripture, she would be significant in Israel's history because of her offspring son to come was to deliver Israel. Her special instructions received included drinking no wine or strong drink and eating no unclean thing. Also, her son was to be a Nazarite all of his life, which meant he would not shave his head, drink wine from grapes, not eat unclean meat, nor touch a dead body, which made them unclean.

So Manoah intreated the LORD to come again to them and teach them what to do unto the child that would be born. This was after the first visit. God hearkened to the voice of Manoah, although the man was not present the second time Jesus appeared unto the woman a second time in the field. So she ran to tell her husband a second time about the visit. The two went to the place this occurred.

They found Jesus. Manoah asked the man (Jesus) if He was the man that spoke to the woman.
How did Jesus answer? in verse 11? I am.

Young's Concordance explains I AM : A name indicating rather the unsearchableness of God than His mere existence, as commonly supposed.

We read of His identifying Himself as such to Moses in Exodus 3:14, twice. (Maybe Jesus was only answering Manoah's question and not identifying Himself as I AM. )

In verse 18, Jesus calls Himself secret, which means remarkable, wonderful in the Hebrew language.
Isaiah 9:6 predicts His birth and calls Jesus Wonderful. 

Webster's Dictionary defines wonderful as astonishing, marvelous, unusually good.

The word is not the proper name of the angel of the Lord, but expresses the character of His name and denotes the peculiarity of His nature as well.  (Falwell)

I think all of those descriptive words describe our Wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ.
Do we tell Jesus how wonderful He is? His name is Wonderful, Jesus my Lord. He is the Mighty King, Master of everything.
Are we sharing how wonderful He is to us?


What happens next?
  • Manoah asked, "When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy's life and work?" (NIV)
  • Jesus repeated the woman's instructions to her husband.
  • Then Manoah offered to fix a young goat for a meal, but Jesus told him to offer it as a burnt offering to the LORD.
  • Manoah prepared the kid and the grain offerings, sacrificing it on a rock to the LORD.
  • Then an amazing thing happened as the two looked on: Jesus ascended in the flame of the fire into heaven.
  • Afraid that they would die since they had seen the Lord, Manoah's wife reasoned that He would not have accepted the offering nor revealed such things to them if He was going to kill them.
Wow! What an experience for this couple, from the weakest tribe of Israel, Dan.

Have you noticed that Jesus takes pleasure in using those weak, for He knows they will depend upon Him to complete the task instructed?
He can use us for Kingdom work, too.


                     ...of doubts and fears and follow Jesus.
                               ... and not question the how or why, just do it.
                               ...and let God.
                               ... of pride and tell others how wonderful Jesus is.

Friday, June 12, 2015


O. T. #537  "Childless"
June 12, 2015
Judges 13
And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.  Judges 13:2


Being childless can be heartbreaking. We went through it in our family. In His time, the Lord blessed with a child. Working through the disappointments, the pain when seeing friends with babies, and being asked when you will have a child are only a few hard times endured. Today's lesson is about such a woman.

Let's skip down to verse 3. We read of the third preincarnate appearance of the Lord Himself in this book (a theophany). This must have been a very important time for the Lord Jesus to come. This time it was to another woman. What do we know about her?
  • She was the woman who would be Samson's mother.
  • She was Manoah's wife. He was living in the city of Zorah and of the family of the Danites.
  • She was barren, without a child.
  • She was told that she would bear a son.

Being the curious that I am, I looked back to find the other appearances of Jesus to men-when and to whom. This is what I found. Jesus appeared to:
  1. Hagar (Genesis 16)
  2. Abraham (Genesis 18)
  3. Jacob (Genesis 32)
  4. Moses (Exodus 3)
  5. Gideon (Judges 6)
  6. Mother of Samson (Judges 13)
How blessed one was during the O.T. time to have Jesus, the coming Savior, speak to you.
Do we listen when He comes to speak to us through His Holy Spirit? Is our hear ready to obey what He has to say to us?


What was the message to this sweet lady?This sterile and childless woman was going to conceive and have a son. She was given these specific directions:
  • Consume no wine, a fermented drink, (verses 3,4)
  • to not eat anything unclean. (verse 4)
Her son was to live by the Nazirite vow, being set apart from birth with the purpose of delivering Israel from the Philistines. In addition to those restrictions, Samson was supposed have no razor cutting his hair and to not touch a dead body, thus being defiles.

This mother-to-be told her husband what had happened. We will discuss that later.
Who were the Philistines?
  • They were sea people who invaded the area  for nearly 2 centuries.
  • They established the Pentapolis (5 cities).
  • They oppressed Israel for 40 years, keeping them in subjection.
  • They did not allow Israel to make iron swords or spears. (That's why Samson used a jawbone and David used a sling for weapons.)
  • The Philistines soon combined their religious practices with those of the Canaanites, being idolatry.
  • They were able to penetrate Israelite territory all the way to Shiloh, where they destroyed the tabernacle. (Falwell)
That helps us better understand the environment in which this couple was living.

Are we faithful to God when others around us are not? (job, community)


Stay faithful to God.

Obey His leading.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


O. T. #536  "Peace"
June 11, 2015
Judges 12-Part 2
And he judged Israel 7 years. And he judged Israel 10 years. and he judged Israel 8 years.
Judges 12:9, 11, 14


As mentioned before, Israel is in a sin cycle, which we read about in this book. They would stray away from worshiping God into idolatry into sin, then He would bring oppression whereby the enemies would conquer them, which resulted in Israel's repentance, followed by years of peace. This cycle would be repeated.

Israel is in the sixth cycle now, with four judges leading them into a total of 31 years of peace. God provided Israel, His beloved children, with peace, using. Little is known about these 3 minor judges.

Liberty Bible Commentary explains:
  1. Jephthah, who defeated the Ammonites with the help of his fellow Gileadites. He ruled as judge for 6 years and died. (verse 1-7)
  2. Ibzan of Bethlehem, probably located in Judah, but some consider Bethlehem in Zebulun. You talk about a big family. He had 30 sons and 30 daughters. The marriage of his 30 sonswas apparently for the purpose of political alliances to strengthen his influence over a significant part of the country. In all, he judged 7 years. (verses 8-10)
  3. Next came Elon, a Zebulunite, who was judge of Israel for 10 years. He was buried in a place called Aijalon, which was pronounced like his name, with the consonants of which match the vocalized reading of his name. The exact location is unknown.(verses 11-13)
  4. Last, Abdon was a Pirathonite, resident of Pirathon in Ephraim, near Shechem. He had a large family of  40 sons and 30 nephews (literally, grandsons). They all rode on donkeys, dinstincting them ashigh-ranking authority. His judgeship lasted 8 years. He was buried in the mount of the Amalekites, indicating an Amalekite occupation of the hill country of Ephraim at that time. (verses 13-15)
Although they are considered minor judges, God used them for His purposes.
Sooo, if we consider our self as insignificant, be encouraged friend, our life is important in God's Kingdom work. Now, don't you forget it either. We touch lives which no one else may touch. Let Him use you to love people to Jesus. You go girl (and guy).


Thirty one years of peace-I would consider it a blessed time in which the Israelites lived.

Falwell includes:
  • These lesser judges are not referred to in light of unusual events caused by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit was not available to them, but that we simply have no record of it.
  • We also have no record of whether they engaged in any military battles, or if they were merely local civil magistrates of some sort.
  • This section of the book of Judges ends with the brief recounting of the five minor judges, plus the controversial Jephthah. It is followed by the amazing exploits and tragic demise of Samson.
Note that Falwell was including and referring to the previous 45 years of Tola and Jair.

Hebrews 12:14 says, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. 

Matthew 5:9 tells us, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Do we help be a peacemaker when people are at odds with each other? How are our relationships?


Be at peace with God and others.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Words, Jealousy, Hurts

O. T. #535  "Words, Jealousy, Hurts
June 10, 2015
Judges 12
The  men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah: Wherefore passeth thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? We will burn thine house upon thee with fire.  Judges 12:1


So very grateful that God has given me another year to live. (365 more days to retirement. SS, here I come, just hold out for me to collect from you.)
I wonder if the city of Gilead and surrounding 20 others which Jephthah and his tribe of Manasseh protected as they conquered the Ammonites. Wouldn't you think that the tribe of Ephraim would be grateful also? Not so. Look at their reaction.

Keep in mind that Israel experienced peace for 31 as the sixth group of judges would rule, including Jephthah for six years, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon. Yet, with ungratefulness and jealousy, their neighbors across the River, the tribe of Ephraim, gets upset about the whole thing of battling the Ammonites and their army without their help.

New Living Translation says in verse 1-3: Then the people of Ephraim mobilized an army and crossed over the Jordan River to Zaphon. They sent this message to Jephthah: "Why didn't you call for us to help you fight against the Ammonites? We are going to burn down your house with you in it!" Jephthah replied, "I summoned you at the beginning of the dispute, but you refused to come! You railed to help us in our struggle against Ammon. so when I realized you weren't coming, I risked my life and went to battle without you, and the LORD gave me victory over the Ammorites. So why have you now come to fight me?"

What?!! You've got to be kidding!

Life Application Study Bible has this to say about the situation:
Israel had just won a great battle, but instead of joy, there was pettiness and quarreling. The tribe of Ephraim was angry and jealous that they were not invited to join the fighting (although Jephthah said he had invited them). The insults of the Ephraimites enraged Jephthah, who called out his troops and killed 42,000 men from Ephraim.
Jephthah usually spoke before he acted, but this time his revenge was swift. It cost Israel dearly, and it might have been avoided, insulting others and being jealous are not right responses when we feel left out. But seeking revenge for an insult is just as wrong, and very costly.
Did you know that Jephthah is listed in Hebrews 11, the hall of faith? The writer of Hebrews says that he didn't have time to discuss this man's life and faith, though. God had blessed this man who faithfully followed Him.

Well, well, there is that ugly head of jealousy being raised again. Don't we have to be careful that it does try to raise its head within us? (At least I do.) Also, we have to watch out for it in others. Make them feel appreciated, needed, and a part of things. Love covers a lot and over comes a lot, huh? We have to train our self to recognize that ole scudder of jealousy. It only intends to hurt and cause pain, usually with words. Best to head it off at the pass, pardoner, before it gets too strong of a hold.


Is this a pattern for the tribe of Ephraim? Back in Judges 8, during Gideon's day. Ephraim was the most prominent of the 12 tribes of Israel. Why, the tabernacle was located in their territory, and Joshua was one of their descendants. In spite of all of that, they complained about not being included in the call to war by Gideon. He calmed down the Ephraimites with compliments. Wonder why Jephthah did not adhere to the same method.

How did Jephthah know when a fugitive Ephraimite man tried to cross back over the Jordan River at a shallow crossing was such? The Gilead men would challenge him, asking if he was an  Ephraimite. When answering "No," then the Gilead men put them to the test by having them say the word Shibboleth (translated as either stream or ear of grain.) For whatever reason, they could not pronounce the word properly, making them easily identified. (David Jeremiah)

This word was chosen as a password because it contained a consonant which the Ephramites could not pronounce. Instead they pronounce the word Sibboleth. (Falwell)
This linguistic test shows that the Ephramite dialect followed the Arabic influence in which s took the place of sh. (Bruce)

Then they would kill the Ephraimite. To be exact, 42,000 were killed during that time. How needless! A civil war going on within the Israelites. How upset this would have made Moses and Joshua. God allowed it, though.

Here's an interesting note: Falwell tells us that a similar pronunciation test was used by the northerner soldiers during our Civil War in distinguishing if a man was a southerner, to discover another by certain words.

Maybe it is best to keep ones mouth shut at times. Words reveal who we are. Interesting thought.

Proverbs 15:1 says, A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grevious words stir anger.
Proverbs 15:23 says, A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season , how good is it!
Proverbs 25:11 tells us, A fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.


Let go of words that are hurtful to me.

Watch the words I say.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Soothing of the Soul

O. T. #534  "Soothing of the Soul"
June 9, 2015
Judges 11-Part 4
And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no many. And it was a custom in Israel.  Judges 11:39


This is such a busy month for me-2 family reunions, Vacation Bible School, birthday, Father's Day, appointments, etc. This old body gets tired so easily, as well as my soul becoming weary in the busyness of it all. You with me?
Well, I am going for a new experience on Friday. Since my husband's family is having their annual reunion this weekend, we gals decided to go for a pedicure. (It was my request for my Mother's Day gift.) I must say, I am looking forward to the foot message. These wheels of mine are sore and tired from the miles they have gone lately. Maybe even a sweet, soothing lotion, a balm, will be used. Come on, Friday!
I think our hero, Jephthah, could have used a balm in Gilead, his hometown.

We left Jephthah, the Gileadite, alone and saddened by his rash vow made to the Lord. You will recall that he asked the Lord for victory over the Ammorites in exchange for whatsoever came out of his house to greet him upon returning from the battles. The whatsoever became a whosever, his daughter. They were both people faithful to God-Jephthah kept his vow and his daughter surrendered to it. Perhaps the story ended with Jeph making a human sacrifice or not. We are not told, only speculations. His daughter may have been a dedication to the Lord's service without marrying or death. At any rate, her father's line stopped there, since his only daughter did not carry it on.

But, lest we too be saddened by all of this, and burdened by a heavy load we are carrying, a song came to my mind-"There Is a Balm in Gilead," from The Baptist Hymnal:
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sinsick soul. Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my world's in vain, But then the Holy Spirit Revives my soul again. If you can't preach like Peter, If you can't pray like Paul, Just tell the love of Jesus, And say He died for all.
I look up the definition of balm in Webster's Dictionary: a balsamic resin: especially one from small tropical evergreen trees; an aromatic preparation (as a healing ointment).
Balm of Gilead refers to an agency that soothes, relieves, or heals (among other definitions).

Anyone need a balm of Gilead? Are your burdens getting heavy? Who couldn't use a foot rub, shoulder rub, sweet lotion, a soothing of our soul with peace?
Jesus, our Prince of Peace (Is. 9:10), wants to be our balm for a sin sick soul, an upset soul, a confused mind, a weary person, tired of the schedule, tired of the fight against evil. He is ready to give us that peace that passeth all understanding. (See Ps. 37:11, 55:18; John 14:27, 20:21)

Yes, friend, there is a balm in your hometown. Just ask Jesus for it.


This section ends abruptly with the statement that he judged Israel six years, died, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead. (12:7)
In looking at the list of Israel's judges during their cycle of sin, Jephthah is included in the group of 4 judges who judged a total of 31 years together. They form the sixth group of judges in this book.

So, if God can use this man, the son of a harlot and grandson of Manasseh (Jacob's son), then don't you think He can use us ordinary people for God's Kingdom work also? For sure! (Pronounced for shore, in my region)

Let's be careful in what we vow unto the Lord. Be faithful in keeping our vows. Seek His balm when we grow weary. Rest in His peace for the soul.


                              ... of those weary thought and trade them for the peace of God.
                              ... of the struggles and let God handle it.
                              ... of thinking I am Super Woman, just do what I can today.
                              ... of worries and live in the now with Jesus.
                              ... of the past and look to Friday. (Hee, Hee!)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Keeping Vows

O. T. #533  "Keeping Vows"
June 8, 2015
Judges 11-Part 3
An Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, then it shall be...  Judges 11:30-31a


One man's whatever became a whoever. His vow cost him more than he ever dreamed it would. Are we careful in what we promise to others and to God? I vowed "til death do us part" to my husband before the Lord at our wedding and he did the same to me. So far, we have kept that vow-42 years now. God honors our vows when we stay faithful to fulfill it. Are you keeping your vows?
Want to know what the man's vow involved? Read on friend.

As said earlier, God commissioned Jephthah to rescue His people from the 18 year oppression of the Ammonites and Philistines. (Israel went back into idolatry again, so God allowed them to be conquered in the Gilead area.) Now the Ammonites were seeking to rule the city of Gilead. Just to be sure of the victory, Jephthah made a vow unto the Lord in exchange for victory in the battle.
This guy teaches us to watch what we say, especially when we promise the Lord. I verse 31, Jephthah vowed, If You give the Ammorites into my hands, whatsoever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Amnonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering. 

So victory came. Jeph devastated 20 towns where the Ammonites ruled. Israel subdued Ammon with the Lord's help.

Perhaps it was a lack of faith or confidence, though Jeph was a mighty warrior. He was the son of Gilead, with half brothers who didn't want him around until they needed his help. Sound familiar?
I recall a song which says, "Faith is the victory that over comes the world." How big is your faith? Is it as large as the grain of a tiny mustard seed?


Well, Gilead and other cities were rescued as Jephthah and his family defeated the Ammonites. Time to go home.
And that is what he did. As Jeph came near his home in Mizpah. Who came out of his house to greet him but his only child, his precious daughter. She was excited to see her victorious Daddy! She was dancing and shaking that tambourine.

What should have been a joyous return became a heart wrenching one. Jephthah was stabbed in the heart when he remembered his vow that he made earlier to the Lord. The whatever became a whoever. 
In verse 35, Jephthah voiced that he had made a vow to the LORD that he could not break. Apparently, he explained it all to his nameless to us daughter. She made one request of her father-allow her 2 months to roam the hills and weep with her friends, because she would never marry.
He agreed to such a request. As a result of this situation, Israel began a yearly custom where their young women go out for 4 days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

Sadly, Jephthah did not understand that while vows must not be broken God did provide for the redemption of thoughtless, careless vows (Lev. 5:4-6). That person was to confess that he sinned in that thing and bring a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats as a sin offering. The priest would make atonement for him concerning his sin.

How did he keep his vow? There are several opinions on this matter:
  • Jephthah offered his daughter as a burnt offering to God.
  • His offering of her was that she should not marry, but serve the Lord as a virgin all her life.
  • God would not be honored with such a rash vow based on such a wicked practice.
Perhaps Jephthah expected a servant or an animal to come out of his house whenever he returned home from the battlefield. How ironic!
He had just defeated the child sacrificing Ammonites and would now have to sacrifice his daughter as a result of the vow he had taken! (Falwell)

The second opinion makes more sense, since the girl asked for 2 months to mourn her not allowed to marry.  Although, we are not told what happened at the end of those 2 months.

I realize that there are many people who do not keep their wedding vows. I am so sorry when that happens. It must be very painful when one's spouse is unfaithful or doesn't want to be married any longer.
Dear one, there is One who keeps His promises-our God. We can trust Him to keep His Word. He is faithful. Are we trusting Him?

Be careful friends what we promise God. It may cost us more than we ever dreamed.


Be willing to let go of whatever so I can stay faithful to God.

Seek His will, then obey it.

Do what is required so I will be faithful to God.

Watch my mouth and what I promise.


Friday, June 5, 2015

A Vow Made

O. T. #532  "A Vow Made"
June 5, 2015
Judges 11-Part 2
Then it shall be, that whatsoever...  Judges 11:31


A man's word is his bond. Do we hear that in our day? A handshake on an agreement used to be as binding as a contract is now. So as a Christian, I should keep my word. When I say I will, then I do it. Right? Even if others do not. A vow made is a vow kept. An Israelite made a vow to the Lord. Shall we see what it was about?

As a review: After 300 years of Israel possessing (Gad and 1/2 tribe of Manasseh), the Ammonites claimed it belonged to them. (Moab and Ammon were sons of Lot, Abraham's nephew.) They entered the city of Gilead, west of the Jordan River to conquer. Gilead's sons after kicking out their half brother, Jephthah, from the city, begged him to return and lead their army to fight the Ammonites.
Jeph came back, agreed to lead them, but in doing so would become their leader, judge. All agreed.

So we pick up the story with Jephthah, convinced Israel had done no wrong, but the Ammonites were in the wrong, challenged their enemies to have  the LORD the JUDGE (Yahweh Hashhophet, pronounced with a long o and e) settle this matter between Israel and the children of Ammon. Guess who disagreed-the Ammonites.

Jephthah sought the Lord in this matter.

When we feel we are following the Lord in a matter and face opposition, do we seek Him for direction as Jephthah did? Or do we go head strong doing things our way?


We do not read of an answer, specific instructions or different directions given to Jephthah from God.
Verse 29 begins with Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah...

The Lord graciously empowered Jephthah for war on behalf of his people does not mean that all of the warrior's decisions were of God's wisdom. The rash vow (v. 30,31) is an example.

However, we do read of a vow which Jeph made to the Lord in verse 31:
If You give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering. (my emphasis)

This was a custom among generals to promise the god of their worship something of great value as a reward for that god's giving them victory.  (MacArthur)

We are going to leave it there. You can read over the weekend what happened if you wish to know ahead of time. What or who would be the sacrificed pledge?

Numbers 30:2 tells us, If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. 

Do we keep our promises to the Lord? It is better to not make one that break one.


Keep my promises to the Lord.

Do what I say I will do.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Truth

O. T. #531  "The Truth"
June 4, 2015
Judges 11
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah... Judges 11:29


We left the city of Gilead, where the Ammorite army came to camp at Mizpah, their tower. The people and princes of Gilead decided that whoever lead them to fight and conquer the Ammorites would be made their leader.
God raised up Jaephthah to lead the Israelites to freedom from the 18 years of oppression. (verse 8) The Gileadites asked this man of valour (a strong, adept warrior) to help them.

For some background: The man Gilead was probably the grandson of Manasseh (Num. 26:29), one of Joseph's sons.  The Ammorites were accusing the Israelite's ancestors of taking away their land when Moses led them out of Egypt. Actually, the Israelites were not given permission to pass through the land of Edom and Moab. The Lord gave Sihon into their hands when he attacked Israel. Deuteronomy 2 and Numbers 21 record the actual accounts.

God is the true Owner of the land. As the legitimate Landlord, He had the right to give the land to whomever He chose. Israel made no apology for believing that He had chosen them to possess it. This belief is still at the heart and core of orthodox Judaism.  (Liberty Bible Commentary)

Do we consider God as the owner of our house and lot/land? Is He in charge of it? Do we honor Him with it? Or is it what we have come to possess?


Who was Jephthah?
  • He was a Gileadite, like them.
  • His mother was not the wife of Gilead, but a harlot. So being only a half-Canaanite, Jeph had an inferior status within the family. The legitimate sons of Gilead had made Jeph leave their city so he would not receive an inheritance with them. (He went to live at Tob.)
  • The elders of Gilead turned to Jephthah for help.
  • "You kicked me out, so why should I come to help you?" asked Jeph.
  • All agreed that if the Lord gave Jeph victory over the Ammonites, then he would rule over them.
Then Jeph sent messengers to the Ammonite king asking why they were attacking. The king claimed rights to the lands Israel occupied. Israel took the land from the Amorites, not the Ammonites. Israel had lived there 300 years with any dispute. After all, God had given them the land.
Then Jeph made a rash vow. We will pick up the story tomorrow.

Do people sometimes misunderstand us or our situation? Do we let it go or inform them of the truth?


Know the truth and share it with others.

Allow the Holy Spirit to lead me in His wisdom.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Whatever You Think Best

O. T. #530  "Whatever You Think Best"
June 3, 2015
Judges 10-Part 2
We have sinned. Do with us whatever You think best, but please rescue us now. 
 Judges 10:15 NIV


Have you ever gotten to the point of whatever God thinks best? Life is a mess; it's my fault; I am sorry; God help me; do whatever You must; please, just rescue me today.
Yes, I am always making a mess of things and usually I must be the one to say I am sorry to someone. Over and over again I mess up. Israel was there, too.

Here we go again. The children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD and forsook the LORD, and served not Him. (verse 6) They turned to idolatry and abandoned the worship of God for the foreign gods. So this caused the anger of the LORD to be against them. He allowed the Philistines and the Ammonites to oppress Israel for 18 years. (verses 6-9)

What happens?
  • Then the children of Israel cried to the Lord God, admitting their sin. (verse 10)
  • The Lord reminds them from who He delivered them.  (verses 6-9)
  • The Lord told His people to go cry to their gods for help in their time of trouble. (verse 14)
  • The Lord listened as Israel admitted their sin, then said, do with us whatever You think best, but please rescue us now. (verse 16)
  • So Israel got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. (verse 16)
  • God could bear Israel's misery no longer. (verse 16)
Aren't we thankful for God's continued grace and mercy! So do you find yourself, like Israel and me, repeating this sin cycle and begging for mercy again? Do we do what we know God requires? Are we willing to accept whatever?


So the Ammonite army camped in Gilead and the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah. The people of Gilead agreed that whoever launched an attack against the Ammorites would be made head of all those living in Gilead.

In the next chapter, we read of a deliverer.

After we repent of our sin, make changes according to God's Word and ways, then He will work for us.
Is Jesus your deliverer?

                     ...of pride and repent.
                               ...of sin and surrender to God.
                               ...and let God rule.
                               ...and accept whatever He deems best.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Small Fish

O. T. #529  "Small Fish "
June 2, 2015
Judges 10
... and he died. Judges 10:2,5


When I was a kid, my parents enjoyed going fishing down at my grandfather's creek. Often times we would only catch perch, a small fish. Although small, they were good eating, so we took them home instead of throwing them back into the creek. Now, bass was even bigger and better to eat than  perch, which was quite bony. Mom fished for them. (I have a picture of her catch one day.)

Speaking of fish, I consider myself to be a small fish in small pond. In the scope of the world, my achievements go unnoticed, not making headlines, yet God notices. I am striving to serve Him in my small world, wanting to bring people to Jesus so they can experience His love and salvation. Perhaps you think of yourself in a similar way. Friends, nothing done in Jesus' name and for His glory goes unnoticed. We will reap a good harvest if we tarry. Our work for Jesus is important. Israel had some small fish, minor judges, of whom we know very little, yet they did a good work, in today's reading. Their work was significant or else it would not appear in the Bible, right?

We are in the fifth sin cycle, as I call it, for Israel. They repent of their sin of idolatry, worship God for a while, then turn away and repeat it again, so God sends oppression by a group to bring His children back to Him. (Do we do the same?)

Gideon was the fourth judge of Israel, with a peaceful 40 years. Then his son Abimelech ruled for 3 years, leading them into idolatry. But God took care of the evil men of Shechem and evil Abimelech, who got a stone and a sword. His fall was literal.

Now in chapter 10, we read of two good judges, considered the fifth, though we don't know much about them.
Liberty Bible Commentary describes the first mentioned Judge Tola:
  • He was the son of Puah, the son of Dodo,
  • Tola was a tribal name (Gen. 46:13). (a son of Issachar, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, who were servents)
  • He was one of the lesser known judges of this time, without any mighty deeds recorded about him.
  • Commentators Bruce and Wood suggest that these two judges were merely judicial arbitrators or military leaders who held the office of judge at a time when no military activity was necessary.
  • Tola lived at Shamir (identified with the later Samaria) on Mt. Ephraim, near the previous judgeship of Deborah (4:5).
  • His 23 year judgeship was the longest of any of the minor judges.
  • He arose to defend Israel, like other judges, whose mission was to save or deliver Israel.
Tola delivered Israel while Abimelech destroyed it. (David Jeremiah)

Sounds like Tola took a messy government (due to Abimelech's ruling in idolatry) and cleaned it up.

Are we encouraging others to faithfully live for Jesus?
Or are we living for our self?


The second mentioned is Judge Jair:
  • He was a Gileadite.
  • He served on the opposite side (east) of the Jordan, compared with his predecessor, Tola on the west.
  • He served 22 years, which may have overlapped with Tola, since their service was located near each other.
  • Jair was one of three minor judges who is said to have had a large family, suggesting his influence in the community.
  • His 30 sons, who rode on 30 donkeys, may have served as administrative assistants.
  • Havoth-jair were the 30 cities over which he reigned and were tent dwellers.
  • Jair and Jephthah were the only judges who served on the east side of the Jordan. They were of the half tribe of Manasseh.
Thirty sons, 30 donkeys, 30 cities. Hum, is there a pattern here? No significance that I can find, though.

Jair's son rode from place to place in their several circuits administering justice. (Matthew Henry)

Sounds like they were gentlemen doing good in their land.

What are you doing for God that is of worth and has a lasting effect?
When your life is over, will people remember more than just what was in your bank account or the number of years you lived? Will they recall our serving spirit or self-serving spirit?

Let me throw this in here: The judgeship of Jair coincided with the time period of Ruth. (MacArthur)


I read this morning in Sarah Young's devotional Jesus Calling, which is written as though Jesus is speaking to us:
Let go of cares and worries, so that you can receive My Peace. Cease striving, and know that I am God. Let go, relax, be still, and know that I am God.
Linda, let go and let God...

Monday, June 1, 2015

Wow, What a Man!

O. T. # 528  "Wow, What a Man!"
June 1, 2015
Judges 9
And when the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home. Judges 9:55


What a man! No, I'm not talking about Gideon, but one of his sons, Abimelech. If you like an action filled story, which actually happened, then read on. By the way, chapter 9 has 57 verses, so get comfy with a cup of coffee or a tall glass of iced tea. It takes a while to go through it.

What was the purpose of the high priest's ephod? It's purpose was to hear directly from Yahweh.  It had 12 stones that covered the breastplate in 4 rows of 3, representing the 12 tribes of Israel (Ex. 28). Most notable of all the meticulous details were the Urim and the Thummin, 2 flat stones secured within the front of the vest. When exposed, they would somehow relay Yahweh's guidance and instruction to the high priests and ultimately to His people.  (Priscilla Shirer)

Verse 27 tells us Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

Did Gideon set himself up as a high priest? As a king? Did Gideon strive to relate to God on his own terms? Was he making up his own rules in relating to God? Was it more convenient to commune with God using something he created? Here comes the sin cycle again.

God had given the victory over the Midianites who oppressed Israel for 7 years. Then Gideon rescued these Israelites. After meeting with Jesus, getting the victory, what does he do but go into his own idolatry. To beat all, he leads his brethren down that sinful road, too. However, they enjoyed 40 years of peace. Gideon had 70 sons, one called Abimelech ruled 3 years.

No where is Abimelech called a judge; rather, he is a usurper attempting to be a king, a self-appointed king. How did he do this?
  • He appealed to his mother's relatives on his behalf.
  • He  convinced them that he should rule over them.
  • This backing would be needed to overpower Gideon's other sons who were apparently vying for rulership, although not clearly stated here.
  • Evidently, his mother's relatives spoke on his behalf and convinced the rest of the leaders of Shechem that they should follow Abimelech.
  • They gave Abimelech 70 pieces of silver. He used it to hire scoundrels to kill his brothers.
  • All but one were killed, except the yourngest, Jotham, because he hid himself. so 69 were killed with one stone, which may have been a formal execution rather than a battle. (verse 5)
  • The men of Shechem made Abimelech king over them. (verse 6)
There, Abimelech has his kingdom set up, ready for him to reign. All is well for him, or is it?

Do we get sneaky, go behind the scenes, in order to get our way? Or do we seek the Lord and His will?


Jotham told a parable of the trees in reference to his brother Abimelech. In the end, Jotham challenged the men of Shechem to choose whom they would serve. Jotham ran for his life, of course. The parable revealed that God would bring revenge for such a horrific act.

Abimelech reigned 3 years in this area, then soon problems arose. God sent an evil spirit between him and the men of Shechem so they wanted revenge for Abimelech having his brothers murdered. Apparently there was jealousy, distrust, and hate that developed toward Abimelech.

The spirit of animonisty that developed between them is viewed here as a result of God working in human history. That evil spirits can be commanded by God, and His giving them permission to work their evil desires is as old as the story of the book of Job. (Falwell)

The activity of the Shechemites was bad for business. They had a band of armed men ambushing the trade routes, thus depriving Abimelech of the revenues that could be collected by taxing the caravans passing through his territory. This rebellion was led by Gaal, which was calling for a return of Canaanite control of this area, and challenged Abimelech to come fight him.

What happens next?
  • Zebul, the lieutenant governor in charge of Shechem, sent word to Abimelech to warn him of the rebellion going on there and to come at night to ambush the city.
  • He took the advice, surrounding the city with 4 companies of his army.
  • This resulted in Gaal being wounded and driven out of the city along with his men. You can read the way Abimelech conquered the cities of Shechem, El-Berith and Thebez.
  • The people of Shechem ran into a field, where they were ambushed by Abimelech. He was so angry that he sowed the field with salt, which symbolized a permanent barrenness (Deut. 29:23). 
  • The men of Shechem took cover in their tower.
  • As Abimelech went to set fire on the tower, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. While dying, Abimelech called his armor bearer to kill him with a sword so no one could say a woman killed him. And that ended the cruel Abimelech's reign. Thus God repaid him for the wickedness Abimelech did in murdering his 70 brothers and the city.
A millstone was generally about 18 inches in diameter and 2 or 3 inches thick, weighing as much as 20 to 30 pounds. (Falwell)

Prideful Abimelech could not be killed by a woman so he had his armor-bearer kill him with his sword,, similar to the ending of King Saul.

What can we take away from this graphic story? God Himself was actually sovereignly in control of the affairs of man. (Falwell)

We better take seriously God's warnings in His Word, to only worship Him.

(My wow, is not in admiration of Abimelech. I shake my head at him in disgust.)


                                  ...of any pride in my positions, and be a servant instead.
                                  ...of control of my life and let God have it.
                                  ...of the world's way and follow God's ways.