Rev. E. Anderson
July 24th GOD’S GRIEF – Judges 10
Is it possible that the Lord could be smitten with grief? Quite a question to ask! It states in v16 “and His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” Looking down on the circumstances that His people were in, He was rightly disturbed and distressed. He knew that they could have been in a lot better condition. Instead of being victimised in the way that they were by foreign nations, things would have been decidedly different if only they had done the right thing and honoured Him.
At this time they were really given over to idolatry –v6. They stooped to every false deity and practised all kinds of offensive actions to the Lord in the worship of them. Such a sin was grievous to God and caused unnecessary pain to Him. Israel had no call to act in such a manner in the light of God’s goodness and faithfulness. It should have been their purpose to give Him pleasure.
We must make sure that we do not entertain any idols in our lives and thus cause grief to our Lord. He wants to see us in a free and favoured state and enjoying His rich blessings and if this is not the case, it affects Him deeply. Let us renounce all evil associations and make evident our total love of and commitment to Him today. The admonition in the New Testament is to “Flee idolatry.” Nothing and no one should be allowed to occupy the place that belongs to the Lord alone.
July 25th A LEADERSHIP NEED – Judges 10: 17, 18;
Thankfully the people had repented and truly turned to the Lord having put away the idols and strange gods and placed themselves entirely at the Lord’s mercy. They knew they had no claim upon Him in the light of their behaviour and broken covenant but they trusted Him to help them in the immediate crisis. From v17 it is apparent they were faced with a formidable foe that was desirous of inflicting further pressure and problems on them. It was important that they be rescued in this set of circumstances as they felt themselves ill prepared.
An urgent requirement was the need of a good leader who could bring some inspiration and assistance. In the providence of God there was such a man by the name of Jephthah who is affirmed as being ‘a mighty man of valour’ – Judges 11: 1. His pedigree did not seem to be much but he knew how to act with courage and had proven himself as a warrior to a degree. He responded to the request having secured concessions from them and so he led them into battle by the power of God. God was pleased to recognise him and gave him the needed inspiration for it says, “The Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah” – v29.
We can be assured that the Lord does not want a leaderless Church in these days when there is a battle to be fought. How essential it is that we pray and seek God to appoint and anoint those people who can give the kind of lead that is vital to spiritual victory! The candidates that God has in mind may not fit in with our ideas and opinions. What matters is that the Church is seen to be dealing with the enemy in an overcoming manner. Pray for your leaders today that they will be anointed for the fight.
July 26th RASHNESS OF SPEECH – Judges 11: 30, 34-40; Ecclesiastes 5: 2, 4-7
One of the most important organs of our bodies is our mouth. It is not only used for the intake of food and fluid essential to our physical strength and growth but also possesses the power to utter words that can be used for good or ill. How vital that it is properly and perfectly connected to the mind so that there precedes the wise and rightful use of speech. It can be engaged very dangerously at times and the slip of the tongue mouthing words, especially in the form of vows, can prove to be foolish as seen in the case of Jephthah.
Looking at what he said here, with all good intent, at a time of great challenge, was not sound or sensible as events turned out. Meaningful as may have been his intentions, it would have been better to have kept a bridle on his tongue. The important thing was to have simply been devoted to the Lord and of obtaining victory without this addition. The Lord was not interested in this kind of expression but in his love and devotion. It seems apparent that he did carry this thing through but it was not a wholesome procedure.
It is sound advice that is offered in Ecclesiastes 5: 6 “Suffer not your mouth to cause your flesh to sin.” Keep a guard on your thoughts and tongue so that they are not allowed to run away with some extreme statement or promise that in the end will produce untold grief. This does not mean we should not make any vows but they should always be perfectly weighed and considered before they are uttered.
July 27th AN UNNECESSARY CONFLICT – Judges 12: 1-7
After such a major triumph it is sad to read of this argument that was brought up by the men of Ephraim – v1. Because they had not been involved in the recent conquest they wanted to commence a battle of words that eventually turned into a bitter contest. The root cause of this appears to lie in jealousy. They had been invited to the fray but were unwilling to join forces with Jephthah and would have rather seen their fellow patriots lose. Jephthah said, “when I called you, you delivered me not out of their hands” – v2. They had every opportunity of joining forces and thus heal any resentment that existed.
The inevitable result was a terrible war took place between them and eventually 42,000 men perished from Ephraim. The ones that had initiated the war of words turned out to be the losers. If only they had rejoiced in the previous victory of the others in delivering them from a common enemy things would have been different or even if they had not been involved and let matters rest. Wisdom should have taught them to be bound together as brothers in a common cause.
There are surely lessons for us to learn from this incident. First, let us seek to be united with our brothers in a common conflict against the enemy. Do not be responsible for creating strife and conflict so endangering unity and good will. The Lord has called His people to harmony. Secondly, do not in any way become envious and jealous at the success of others but rather congratulate them, by so doing, we will reveal the God-like spirit and attitude. The cultivation of this attitude and action will be rewarded accordingly by God.
July 28th DIVINE INITIATIVE – Judges 13: 1-23
It is apparent in the birth of Samson that the Lord is seen taking initiative in providing an answer for His elect household. He had allowed them to be brought under the dominion of the Philistines because of the sinful ways and practices and for forty years it had not been an easy time – v1. They had to pay the price again as the result of their waywardness and wickedness. It seems that they never did learn the lesson of history and were so prone to doing their own thing and forgetting the rights of God.
He could have left them to what they deserved but here He is seeking to raise up an individual who would make his mark upon his day and subsequent history. The birth of Samson was quite a unique event as the narrative reveals. To a barren woman is given the unexpected news that she is to bear a son and that the Nazarite vow would be on him and that he would be the future deliverer of Israel. She is given promise and prophecy of what was to be and is confirmed by the angel in an unusual manner – vv19-23.
We should be looking to the Lord to show forth His grace and power in our times. He expects us to take initiative in given moments but also there are the occasions when he moves in sovereign mercy to take up the cause for His own. It is good to know that God has not forsaken this generation and that He can and will raise up people that will rise with unique anointing to deal with the Christian Church’s enemy. Let our assurance and optimism be placed in Christ to outwork something mighty in these days in the calling and revealing of men with spiritual and supernatural power and gifting.
July 29th INITIAL STIRRINGS – Judges 13: 24-25
The Lord was true to His word and Manoah’s wife gave birth to a son, Samson. His name actually means ‘distinguished, strong.’ He certainly was to become a renowned individual distinguished for His strength. The initial beginnings of this child could not have been better because it is recorded that he grew “and the Lord blessed him” -v24. The blessing of the Lord was with him from his earliest days singling him out for a meaningful and powerful destiny. His early life could not have been improved upon in order to prepare for the next stage.
There came the vital move forward in what was then to take place in God’s timing – “And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times . . . .” – v25. This was to be a special experience because he discovered that he was to be unique and different to the general crowd around him. There was a divine inspiration and revelation that commenced to flow through his being. He sensed that his life and work was being earmarked for something significant and special. A consciousness of God and of divine capability began to assert itself.
We, too, have been birthed into the divine Kingdom in order to be blessed and to become distinguished in terms of spiritual strength. The reason for our being within God’s special household is that we might become most useful and effective. Those initial stirrings by God’s Spirit need to increase within us, preparing and releasing us into a dynamic work of overcoming the enemy. Today you can move into something different and to begin to feel the greater touch of God upon your life.
July 30th A START TO VICTORY – Judges14
It was necessary for Samson to begin his work for God in delivering God’s people from the hand of the Philistines. It appears to have been a strange way for things to work out, but the providence of God is in evidence despite Manoah’s concern for Samson’s choices – vv3, 4. Behind this love affair and intended marriage was the means through which Samson would get going on his real job of being the nation’s deliverer. There was the extraordinary slaying of the lion, the production of honey in its carcase, the telling of the riddle and betrayal, then finally, the slaying of the Philistines.
God’s servant, from this incident and experience, should have learned that the Philistines in no way could be trusted and the alarm bells should have rung very early in his conscience. His parents had told him and events proved the correctness of their advice. Having discovered the Lord’s strength and help in an awkward moment, he should have proceeded more soundly and listened to God’s Word and not allowed the dictates of the flesh to assume control later on. Great care should have been adopted in the knowledge of his unique calling and gifting.
When God gives an anointing and we experience some victories, it is wise not to permit ourselves from giving way to any carnal and natural inclination. It is imperative to keep our lives perfectly attuned to God so that no seeds are sown that will lead to our personal undoing. Nobody can be too careful here because it is tragic to finish up a ‘has been’ when so much more could have been achieved. The triumphs known are to be a platform for even greater victories and these will be all the more so as a humble state of mind and attitude is evidenced.
July 31st A UNIQUE PROVISION – Judges 15
This deliverer found himself in quite some difficulty after wreaking vengeance on the Philistines – vv1-8. Even his people also were under great threat – v9. They felt if Samson surrendered to them this threat would go away and so asked for this – vv11-13. Although they felt weak and intimidated, this was not so of him. He allowed himself to be bound and to taken to them knowing that the Lord would help him with His inspiration and might. One with God would be more than a majority!
The Lord certainly came with enduement by His Spirit because it states: “And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistine shouted against him: “and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him . .” – v14. That was enough to empower and incite action. With the simple weapon of a jawbone of an ass he slew a thousand men. What a victory! It was thirsty work! Afterwards he found himself in a weak condition and in need of refreshment and God showed to him that the tool of victory was to be his means of refreshment. Water flowed from a hollow in the lifeless jawbone.
Sometimes we are left alone to face the foe, even those that ought to be with us are not as they should be, but that should not deter us from being full of faith and courage. We need to lead, irrespective of the opposition or the situation of our fellow believers, knowing the Lord will be with us to give His presence and a significant victory. There will also be a source of renewal opened to us as required so that we can be refreshed for further action.