Judges 15:14-20

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, March 20, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
Then Samson said, 'With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.'
When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi.
Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord, 'You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?' Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi.
Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.” (Judges 15:14-20)

Samson was hiding from the Philistines, and his own countrymen in Judah found him and turned him over to the Philistine army. Judah was not willing to fight with Samson to stand up for what was right; they simply handed him over, likely thinking that Samson would die at the hand of the Philistines. They had the opportunity to rise up and potentially dominate over the Philistines, but they didn’t.

But Samson didn’t die! He was empowered by God’s Spirit, and his amazing strength was shown by killing 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey. While this was an amazing feat, remember that Nazirite vow that Samson had on his life since before he was born? Part of that vow was that he could not have contact with anything dead. The donkey whose jawbone Samson used would have had to have been dead, so Samson was violating that part of his vow (again).

After Samson’s great victory, he comes up with a poem for his victory chant. His poem does make more sense in the original Hebrew, since the words for donkey (“hamor”) and heap or pile (“homer”) sound more similar. The carcasses of donkeys were often through outside the city wall, which is similar to the disgraceful death that the Philistines received.

In Israelite culture, names are often significant. The place where this happened was originally called Lehi, which means “jawbone,” but then it was renamed Ramnath Lehi, which means “jawbone hill.” The name change was likely in honor of the “hill” of dead Philistines caused by Samson.

Samson acknowledged God’s victory in that battle and didn’t take the credit for himself, but he was still physically drained after it. I would imagine that killing 1000 Philistines would be a lot of work, especially with only a donkey’s jawbone for a weapon! God provided for Samson’s physical needs, just as he had many generations earlier for the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 17:6).

Samson may not have been proclaimed an “official” judge over Israel, but after this incident the people looked to him as their leader for the next 20 years.

Samson allowed God to empower him to victory, while the rest of Judah was still cowering in apathy. They just didn’t care about their situation enough to do anything about it. In your life, are you empowered, or are you apathetic? Do you care about what’s going on in the world around you enough to be motivated to do something about it? Or are you just sitting back and letting others rule over you, because you don’t care enough to do anything about it? Ask God to empower you with His Spirit like he did with Samson (though that likely doesn’t mean for you to kill anyone!). Be empowered this week instead of living in apathy.

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