Strength under Fire

Judges 14:1-2 “Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.”

Samson

When I think of strength, Samson immediately comes to mind, the brute power he possessed was one of legend. Now strength can take many forms, being muscular and strong isn’t the only type of strength we see exhibited among people, there are those who have strength of mind or exhibit strength of character, while others show strength in their resolve.

Whatever strength we are referencing, they all come under attack at one point or another. Walk around flexing your muscles and you will invariably find someone who wants to test your strength. Uphold your values and there are those who might disagree with the values you subscribe to, they too may bring them under attack, questioning the validity of your position.

How do we maintain under such scrutiny?

By recognizing the ways that we are drawn into weakness, we might just stand a better chance of upholding our position when the attacks do come….and they will come, there is no doubt about that.

Samson’s interest in Philistine women was of particular concern to his parents. Judges 14:3 “Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?”

This rule of not intermarrying with foreign wives had a very specific reason. The nations that surrounded Israel were idolatrous in practice, if a man married a woman from a household that practiced worship of any other god than Jehovah, it would bring judgement upon their people. The Philistines worshipped Dagon, the fertility god in whom the hoped would bring much increase in their crops. Likewise, the judgement of God upon the Philistines, through Samson, caused them to look for weaknesses in him that they might exploit.

The deception that the woman from Timnah showed Samson should have made him wary of the women of that land, but he didn’t learn his lesson and eventually Delilah found his weakness and exploited it for her own benefit, leading to his demise.

Samson appeared so full of himself, he didn’t take into consideration that others sought his life. Even when Delilah kept attempting to find that one thing that brought weakness, he still allowed her to play her game. It was for pride that brought blindness upon Samson, the Lord God had made him strong and yet his reliance was in himself. He was not only blind to truth, ironically the Philistines put out his eyes and relegated him to a life of shame after his fall.

1 Kings 19:1-3 “And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.”

Elijah

God performed one of the greatest demonstrations of His power through Elijah. It seemed to this prophet of the Lord that all of the land had turned to Baal worship and yet Elijah stood firm, challenging the powers that be and demonstrating to the people that the Lord alone is God. It was a moment of profound strength that must have been very fulfilling to Elijah. Watching the people execute all of those false prophets who had been leading the people astray was a victory for this man of God.

Immediately after this momentous occasion, we see a let down of his guard. Jezebel, the evil ruler who continually manipulated Ahab into a puppet type role had proclaimed an edict that was meant to destroy Elijah.

Fear overtook this once bastion of God’s strength and he ran. 1 Kings 19:4 “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

How could Elijah move from such victory into a position of defeat so quickly?

He took his eyes off the source of his strength.

I’ve had times in my life where I came through an incredible victory where God taught me to trust Him during an intense trial and He proved Himself faithful yet once again. After the trial, I remember thinking how nice it was to finally have peace and I began to compromise my position by allowing fear to slowly creep in and eventually dominate me once again. I thought that if I just compromised a little, I wouldn’t have to go through that intense trial again, even through the Lord guided me through it, I made myself vulnerable by acting like it was up to me to maintain the peace that was gained.

I had taken my eyes off the source of my deliverance and placed them on myself. My victory was nothing like Elijah’s, but in a small way I understood the reason for his quick descent into weakness.

After major spiritual battles, it is easy to just let down the guard. Thinking the battle is over, we celebrate our victory, not realizing the enemy is still at hand. Satan doesn’t slink into a hole after he loses, he simply looks for another opportunity to exploit our human vulnerabilities.

Hebrews 3:12-14 “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end”

Unbelief?

How can we be accused of unbelief, especially after we just destroyed a thousand Philistines or had 500 prophets of Baal executed?

Our belief in God’s all sustaining power is one that moves from one test to the next, one victory to the next victory. We can’t rest on our past laurels or hope that we won’t be attacked soon after a particular battle. With each trial we come through, the Lord leads us to the next one, as if to say “I’m still working on you”. “you haven’t reach the end yet”.

The enemy recognizes your strength and knows that a full frontal attack is not an option so he attempts to outflank you, come from the side and catch you by surprise.

1 Peter 5:6-8 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

The Lord has a purpose for these trials. The Lord made visible the woman in Timnah, that He might draw Samson out and bring judgement upon that people. The Lord met Elijah at the cave, reminding him that He had everything under control, that he wasn’t alone and that His purposes would be fulfilled.

When we come through these trials, we see evidence of God’s purpose.

1 Peter 5:10 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

This is God’s plan if you trust Him. Keep your eyes fixed above, encourage others who are going through the same things and remember you’re not alone.

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