The seventh servitude. Following the death of Abdon, the Israelites returned to their evil ways. As a result, God sent them into servitude to the Philistines for forty years. This was their most extended period of servitude during the era of the judges. Then God raised Samson.
Samson, the Thirteenth Judge. (Judges 13:2-16:31). Samson judged Israel for twenty years. He was the last judge of Israel whose life was recorded in the Book of Judges. The final two judges are recorded in the Book of 1 Samuel.
Samson’s father was Manoah, who was from Zorah of the Danites. Manoah’s wife’s name may not have been mentioned, but she significantly impacted Bible history. Initially barren, God granted her a special son, changing her status from infertile to highly favored. Both she and her husband were to raise their son, Samson, as a Nazarite. While she carried him, she was not to drink wine or strong drink nor to eat anything unclean because her son was to be a Nazerite from the womb to death. The vows of a Nazarite involved three things. They were to abstain from wine and strong drink, refrain from cutting the hair off the head during the vow period, and avoid contact with the dead.
Samson’s story spans Judges chapters 13-16, and his name is listed among the Old Testament heroes whose faith was worthy of recognition. (Heb. 11:32). Following is a list of the twelve exploits of Samson:
- He killed a lion barehanded (14:6).
- Slew 30 men (14:19).
- Caught 300 foxes (15:4-5)
- Smote Philistines with great slaughter. (15:8)
- Broke two new ropes that bound him. (15:14).
- Killed a thousand men with the jaw-bone of an ass. (15:15-17).
- Brought water out of the jawbone of an ass. (Judges 15:18)
- Tore away the gate doors with two posts and bars (16:1-3).
- Broke green cords of braided wood that bound him (16:6-9).
- Broke new ropes that bound him (16:10-12).
- Broke the pins that bound his seven locks of hair to the wall (16: 13-15).
- Slew 3000 men and women by pulling down the pillars that held up the house where they were (16:23-31).
Outcome. Samson’s most significant fault was that he loved “strange” women. He was physically strong when the Spirit of the Lord overshadowed him, but he was spiritually weak. The third of three unfaithful women he loved, Delilah, caused his downfall. She received the equivalent of $3520.00 to betray him. Samson killed more Philistines at his death than during his lifetime.
Eli, the Fourteenth Judge. (1 Samuel 1- 4:18). Eli was a priest and judge in Israel for forty years. He is best remembered for the blessings he pronounced upon Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:17), his role in the development of Samuel, who was one of the greatest prophets and judges of all times, his lack of discipline for his evil sons, his lackadaisical regard for God’s warnings, his concern for his sons greater than his love for God, and the sad way in which he died when he learned that the Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant. The story and outcome of Eli and his evil sons can be found here: https://strollingthrougharosegardencalledlife.blog/2022/09/28/if-your-heart-is…ven-in-his-house/.
Outcome. An important lesson that we must learn from Eli’s sad life and death is that we must always love God with our whole hearts, souls, and minds, we must repent when God shows us our shortcomings, and we must always put Him above all others.
Samuel, the Fifteenth Judge (1 Samuel 1:20; 2:11-26; 3:1-4:1; 7:3-25:1). Samuel was born to godly parents, Elkanah and Hannah. His father was from Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. Samuel’s mother was Prophetess Hannah.
Samuel was born following Hannah’s intense prayer for a son, and she received her son as a blessing bestowed upon her by Eli, the prophet. Hannah promised to dedicate her son back to God as a Nazarite. When God answered Hannah’s prayer, she kept her promise and “loaned” him to the priest Eli for service to the Lord for the rest of Samuel’s life when he was about four. He became the first recognized prophet since Joshua and the greatest reformer and statesman that Israel ever knew.
Facts of Samuel’s life story:
- The story of Hannah, his mother, and how he was conceived. (1 Samuel 1)
- Lent to the Lord as a Nazerite (1 Samuel 1:11; 24-28)
- Ministered to the Lord (1 Samuel 2:11,18; 3:1)
- Grew in body and spirit (1 Samuel 2:26; 3:19).
- Had favor with God and men (1 Samuel 2:26; 3:19).
- Became God’s prophet (1 Samuel 3:1-21).
- Was acknowledged as a true prophet of God by all of Israel (1 Samuel 3:19-21; 4:1).
- Became the fifteenth Judge of Israel (1 Samuel 7:15-17).
- Delivered Israel from the Philistines by miracles (1 Samuel 7:1-14).
- Initiated the kingdom of Israel (1 Samuel 8:1-12:25).
- Rejected Saul in obedience to God and anointed David as King (1 Samuel 15:1-16:13).
- Spent last days as a judge (1 Samuel 7:15; 19:18-24; 25:1).
The Philistines again oppressed the Israelites when they returned to apostasy by refusing to serve God appropriately and serving idol gods. Eli’s evil sons were killed in battle, and the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant. Samuel rose as their leader when the Israelites cried out to God for help.
Samuel: Judge, Priest, and Prophet. (1 Samuel 7:9-13). Samuel instructed the people of Israel to get rid of their idol gods, wanting to assure the Lord that the heart of His people belonged to Him alone. When the people of God obeyed Samuel’s instructions, he called them together in Mizpeh for a great prayer meeting. The focus of the gathering was to repent and to cry out to God for restoration of the land that God had given them as an inheritance. The Israelites had put away Baalim and Ashtaroth and served God only, and they poured out water to the Lord as a symbol of public humiliation and sorrow for their sins. This act, along with their fasting, was a sign of sincere repentance. The Israelites found God to be just and faithful in forgiving them of their sins.
Samuel, a Levite, made a burnt offering unto God, cried out for the people, and God heard his cry. While the sacrifice was being made, the Philistines began to assemble against Israel. But God thundered from Heaven, confusing the Philistines and frustrating their plans. The Israelites smote them to Bethcar. Samuel then erected a stone between Mizpeh and Shen. He called the location Ebenezer, saying, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12). The Philistines were defeated, and the Israelites were no longer bothered by them for the rest of Samuel’s life.
Outcome. The cities and coasts taken from Israel were restored, and there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. Samuel became the first circuit judge, traveling from year to year in a circuit between Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpeh, and Ramah. When Samuel began to age, he attempted to make his two sons, Joel and Abiah, judges, but the people rejected them. His sons were not just men like Samuel; they desired filthy lucre, took bribes, and perverted judgment. Israel then requested a king, which God granted. This ended the period of the judges and ushered in the time of the kings as leaders of God’s people.
Though no longer leader and judge, Samuel continued as a well-respected, powerful, and effective prophet who anointed two kings, Saul and David. Samuel later rejected Saul as king and anointed David when he was directed to do so by God. After one of King Saul’s many attempts to murder David, Samuel and David lived together in Naioth, the school of the prophets, in Ramah. David was forced to escape from Ramah when Saul continued in his pursuit of taking David’s life. Samuel died in Ramah before the reign of David, and all the people of Israel mourned his death. (1 Samuel 28:3).
Summary. So, there we have it. The Books of Judges and 1 Samuel present the 450 years in which Israel repeatedly sinned, forsook God, and was sent into servitude under oppressors. They cried out for help, and God responded by sending a deliverer. This cycle continued until the people requested a king, just like the other nations. From this study of the judges of the Bible, I learned several important lessons (not listed in order of significance):
- Women have an essential role in the church.
- God speaks to children.
- Sincere repentance brings deliverance.
- Insincere repentance does not move God.
- God is faithful and will keep His word.
- If God does not have an appropriate vessel, He will build one.
- God’s righteous people will always be protected.
- Peace comes only from God.
- God uses the humble but resists the proud.
- God can turn what some determine to be a disadvantage into an asset.
- God is long-suffering, patient, loving, and forgiving.
- Israel’s on-again/off-again interaction with God is no different than some people’s relationship with Him today.
- People often pray only to get out of a pinch.
- Sin brings punishment.
- Rash decisions can bring disaster. Pray first.
As you read this series related to Judges in the Bible, perhaps you discovered more lessons than those presented. Please include your findings in the Comments section so others can benefit from your revelations. I learned a great deal from this study of the Judges of the Bible, and I pray that you will too. May God bless and keep you is my prayer.