The First 21 of 2021
Judges ~ Chapter Sixteen

Morning Meditation
Read: Judges 16:1-31

"Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek,
whose name was Delilah.
And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her,
"Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies,
and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him;
and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver."
(Judges 16:4, 5)

The Lord set mighty Samson apart from birth, purposing to lead Israel's champion to great heights of conquest over his enemies, but Samson was persistently drawn to the valley, enticed by the wrong women, and continually brought low by his sin. Despite his perpetual sin cycle (which typified the history of Israel during the period of the judges), the Lord endued him with supernatural strength to escape the hands of his enemies. "And Samson lay low till midnight; then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron" (v. 3). The gates could not keep Samson contained; when he was ready to leave, he simply picked up the gates, bar and all, and carried them out of the city and all the way up the hill.
"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:12, 13). The Lord graciously provides a way out for His servants when we find ourselves tangled in the web of temptation. But Samson, arrogantly thinking nothing could happen to him, went back down to the valley, blatantly tempting God with his sin. "Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God' " (Matthew 4:7; Deuteronomy 6:16). Unable to resist the seductive call of the flesh, Samson entangled himself with another woman whom he had no right being with. Delilah became the third Philistine woman that Samson became involved with; she was the final strike that led to his downfall. Three strikes, and you're out! Just like his wife had done, Delilah was willing to betray Samson to satisfy her own needs and desires; she was willing to let a good man suffer for the sake of money. Samson played the fool. He played foolishly with Delilah's manipulations of the heart with tests of strength that put his life in jeopardy. He had made a joke out of his triumph over the lion at his wedding feast, and here he is found trifling with the final threads of his Nazirite vow of separation being fully aware of Delilah's cruel intentions. She pestered him until he finally ceased with the jesting and revealed the answer she had been looking for; then she lulled him to sleep and took away his strength. "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep - so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man" (Proverbs 6:10, 11). May we be ever watchful, for the days are evil. Our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). He seeks the secret to our strength, and lies in wait, looking for a tiny crack by which he may enter and overpower us with temptations, so that we might be bound and afflicted by sin. May we therefore remain vigilant students of the Word and in prayer, abiding in the love of Christ and experiencing His unbroken presence, so we will have strength and power to stand steadfast against the enemies which war against our flesh, seeking to disfigure us and make us slaves. May the Lord strengthen us, so that we will walk confidently - according to our position in Christ - as children of the light, having no fellowship with the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:8, 11). "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light" (v. 14).

"Now therefore, listen to me, my children,
for blessed are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it.
Blessed is the man who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the LORD;
but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
all those who hate me love death."
(Proverbs 8:32-36)

Afternoon Devotion
Judges 16:20-22

"And she said, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!"
So he awoke from his sleep, and said,
"I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!"
But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.
Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him to Gaza.
They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.
However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven."
(Judges 16:20-22)

Samson was entirely consecrated to God from birth. As a Nazirite, the outward marks of his consecration were symbols of his inner separation to God. He was never to drink wine or touch anything that came from the vine, nor touch any dead thing, nor allow a razor to touch his head. In his appearance he was to look different from men, and by the rule of his life he was to live different among men. Sadly, he violated every stipulation of his vow of separation. Over time, his strength was stripped from him to a point that, though he had strength to carry away the gates of the city, he could not resist the temptations of the flesh. Until finally one morning he awoke to find that all his strength was gone. "But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him" (v. 20b). The secret to Samson's strength was his relationship with the Lord, but he had trifled with his devotion to God one too many times, so robbing God of glory and honor, that he did not even realize that he was no longer operating in the strength of the Lord. He had been spiritually blinded by his own strength, walking by sight rather than by faith, until finally he was taken captive by the enemy and physically blinded. His eyes had brought him into bondage to sin and led to his captivity, and now he was condemned to live in the dark as a slave. May we have eyes to see in Samson's story the tragic results of sin! Though the Lord allowed his captivity, the Philistines praised their god: "Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy!" (v. 23). They thought they had won the battle, but the Lord would ultimately triumph (v. 30). Samson's hair began to grow back and with it, his strength. Days of grinding in the dark, while subject to the constant ridicule and mocking of enemies, brought back Samson's consecration. In his brokenness and blindness Samson began to pray. "Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, "O LORD God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!" (v. 28). Despite his many moral failings, God still used Samson to defeat the enemy and deliver His people. Samson was a hero of the faith, a tragic hero, but a hero no less (Hebrews 11:32). Though his life ended in great personal tragedy, it has been preserved in the Scriptures as a cautionary tale to all. May sinners and prodigals everywhere grow tired of their shackles, and the perpetual grinding of their sin; may they long to come out of the dark and into the light, away from the constant ridicule of the enemy and the incessant aching of their anguishing and languishing heart; and begin to cry out to God, so they may experience the joy of forgiveness and the freedom found in pardoning love. May the spirit of true consecration fall upon every believer, so that the church may return to the secret of its life and power and begin to pray and lay hold of the riches of heaven to influence and impact this and future generations to the glory of God. "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20, 21).

"And I also say to you that you are Peter,
and on this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,
and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
(Matthew 16:18, 19)
Listen to the Evening Prayer Audio

Click on the button to listen to the
Evening Prayer
"Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the LORD
for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with His truth."
(Psalm 96:11-13)
JUDGES ~ The First 21 Days of 2021 - A Prayer and Fasting Devotional Journey
copyright (c) 2021 Traci A. Alexander. All Rights Reserved

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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