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Archive for December, 2014

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

As you spend time with family and friends this Christmas count the many blessings that you have been given. The most important blessing is Jesus. He came to earth to save us and reconcile us to God. Now we can have fellowship with God here on earth and forever with Him in Heaven. That is the most marvelous blessing of all!

nativity-baby-jesus-christmas-2008-christmas-2806967-1000-5581_810_500_55_s_c1

Life is a precious gift. Most of us are thinking through the past and making New Year’s Resolutions for improving ourselves in the future. This is a fine thing to do. It is always a good thing to review our lives and seek to be a better person in the future.

But how many resolutions are centered in our own lives? A poll reveals that the most common resolutions are:

  1. Lose weight or get fit
  2. Quit smoking or drink less alcohol
  3. Get a better education or a better job
  4. Save money, manage debt better
  5. Reduce stress
  6. Go on a vacation

What do you notice about these resolutions? Where is a resolution to give up time or money or both to help others? Where does “helping others” fit into our plans? What about those who cannot help themselves? We must seek justice for the helpless as we follow in the steps of Jesus. Our focus should not just be on ourselves.

We have been so blessed in our country. Thankfully, we have access to good health care, doctors, gyms, and financial planners. All of the popular New Year’s resolutions are within our reach. We are blessed beyond belief. It is a good thing to want to improve our lives. But is our culture too selfish?

Each year over one million babies will not get the chance to live, let alone ever have a chance to make New Year’s resolutions. The problem seems so big and overwhelming but many people have worked hard in the last year to end the slaughter of babies. Here are a few victories to celebrate especially thanks to tireless Pro-life supporters:

  1. Live Action produced a video entitled “What is Human?” and put it on Facebook. The video went viral with millions of views. This video showed that beyond a doubt the little being in the womb is a human being. The abortion industry refuses to acknowledge the dignity and humanity of unborn children. If you or anyone you know is undecided on this issue watch the video. You will know the truth.Beauty of Life
  2. Young people are joining the ranks of the Pro-life movement in droves! This is great news and cause for much rejoicing! This is good news for the unborn in the future.young people for life
  3. Thanks to technology, Pro-lifers can share the beauty of life with their friends on the Internet. Organizations like Live Action, LifeSiteNews.com, and many others send out newsletters via email that are resent by hundreds of thousands of supporters daily.
  4. Planned Parenthood is continually being exposed as a fraudulent organization. PP pretends to be about women’s health, but is actually making millions of dollars off of abortions every year. And NO! Planned Parenthood does not have an ultrasound or mammogram machine in any clinic. PP is strictly about women’s so-called “rights” — this means the right to kill an unwanted baby. UNBORN women don’t count. Unborn women don’t have rights. What hypocrites the pro abortion supporters are!
  5. While we may get angry at the organization Planned Parenthood, we should pray for the individual workers there. Former workers at Planned Parenthood facilities are leaving the abortion giant continually. Once these women see an actual abortion they can no longer stay in the abortion industry.

Former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson says, “Friends, these workers are leaving the abortion industry because they are finally able to see that there is real help for them. They don’t leave because people have told them that they are “baby killers.” They certainly don’t leave because someone tells them they will “burn in hell” for working in the industry. They leave because we are now able to give them help and healing. They leave because they want something better for themselves. They leave because we are finally helping them see that we do genuinely care about them.”

(Note: the above mentioned video is one of many other things that is convincing these women about what an abortion really is – the death of a helpless human.)

Abby continues, “We always need to remember that these workers are not our enemy. Abortionists are not the enemy. Our enemy is sin. No matter how rude they are to us, no matter how much they ignore us, no matter how many times they tell us to “get a job” or something similar…they WILL eventually leave. But that will only happen if we BE Christ to them. We don’t have to preach to them. …

Pray. Be kind. Love them. And if you don’t think you can love them, then stay away from them. The only thing that will keep an abortion worker in the industry longer is a pro-lifer who condemns them.

What if you were the reason an abortion worker took a left instead of a right? You can be. I thank God every day of my life for the people who made me “change my route.”

I agree with Abby. Let’s make one of our New Year’s resolutions to try to win others with the love of Jesus.

2015 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION –save-babies

It is no longer politically incorrect to say that you are Pro-life. This year make it one of your resolutions to speak openly about the plight of the helpless unborn babies. The tide is turning. Pray for those who disagree with you. Give money and support to Pro-life organizations. Just pick one activity and get involved. Make 2015 the year that abortion is ended for good!

 

 

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Mary and Joseph Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

christmas-nativity-wallpapers-1920x1200God bless you all this Christmas! In all of the hustle and bustle take time out to remember that the best gift of all is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Take time to explain to your children that giving is better than getting.

  1. Find an activity for them to do where they will make and give something away.
  2. Encourage them to spend some of their allowance on a toy for an underprivileged child. Many groups are collecting for the poor.
  3. They can put coins in their pockets and put them in the Salvation Army buckets wherever they see the Bell Ringers.
  4. Try and find time to read them good stories about the real meaning of Christmas.

It is so sad to see that the children in our culture are selfish and grasping. They will be more and more miserable as they grow up. In actual fact, giving is what gives true joy and happiness. So this week, I have included one of many great Christmas stories about the true meaning of Christmas. You can go online to “americanliterature.com” to find many more great stories.

Here is one of my favorites:

Papa Panov’s Special Christmaspapa_panov_title

This wonderful Christmas story was translated into English by Leo Tolstoy. The original story was written in French by Ruben Saillens and shows us the true meaning of Christmas.

It is based on a verse from the Bible:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” (Matthew 25:35)

christmas lightsIt was Christmas Eve and although it was still afternoon, lights had begun to appear in the shops and houses of the little Russian village, for the short winter day was nearly over. Excited children scurried indoors and now only muffled sounds of chatter and laughter escaped from closed shutters.

Old Papa Panov, the village shoemaker, stepped outside his shop to take one last look around. The sounds of happiness, the bright lights and the faint but delicious smells of Christmas cooking reminded him of past Christmas times when his wife had still been alive and his own children little. Now they had gone. His usually cheerful face, with the little laughter wrinkles behind the round steel spectacles, looked sad now. But he went back indoors with a firm step, put up the shutters and set a pot of coffee to heat on the charcoal stove. Then, with a sigh, he settled in his big armchair.

Papa Panov did not often read, but tonight he pulled down the big old family Bible and, slowly tracing the lines with one forefinger, he read again the Christmas story. He read how Mary and Joseph, tired by their journey to Bethlehem, found no room for them at the inn, so that Mary’s little baby was born in the cowshed.

“Oh, dear, oh, dear!” exclaimed Papa Panov, “if only they had come here! I would have given them my bed and I could have covered the baby with my patchwork quilt to keep him warm.”

He read on about the wise men who had come to see the baby Jesus, bringing him splendid gifts. Papa Panov’s face fell. “I have no gift that I could give him,” he thought sadly.

Then his face brightened. He put down the Bible, got up and stretched his long arms to the shelf high up in his little room. He took down a small, dusty box and opened it. Inside was a perfect pair of tiny leather shoes. Papa Panov smiled with satisfaction. Yes, they were as good as he had remembered- the best shoes he had ever made. “I should give him those,” he decided, as he gently put them away and sat down again.

SHOEMAKER-1
He was feeling tired now, and the further he read the sleeper he became. The print began to dance before his eyes so that he closed them, just for a minute. In no time at all Papa Panov was fast asleep.

And as he slept he dreamed. He dreamed that someone was in his room and he knew at once, as one does in dreams, who the person was. It was Jesus.

“You have been wishing that you could see me, Papa Panov.” he said kindly, “then look for me tomorrow. It will be Christmas Day and I will visit you. But look carefully, for I shall not tell you who I am.”

When at last Papa Panov awoke, the bells were ringing out and a thin light was filtering through the shutters. “Bless my soul!” said Papa Panov. “It’s Christmas Day!”

He stood up and stretched himself for he was rather stiff. Then his face filled with happiness as he remembered his dream. This would be a very special Christmas after all, for Jesus was coming to visit him. How would he look? Would he be a little baby, as at that first Christmas? Would he be a grown man, a carpenter- or the great King that he is, God’s Son? He must watch carefully the whole day through so that he recognized him however he came.

Papa Panov put on a special pot of coffee for his Christmas breakfast, took down the shutters, and looked out of the window. The street was deserted; no one was stirring yet. That is no one except the road sweeper. He looked as miserable and dirty as ever, and well he might! Whoever wanted to work on Christmas Day – and in the raw cold and bitter freezing mist of such a morning?

Papa Panov opened the shop door, letting in a thin stream of cold air. “Come in!” he shouted across the street cheerily. “Come in and have some hot coffee to keep out the cold!”

The sweeper looked up, scarcely able to believe his ears. He was only too glad to put down his broom and come into the warm room. His old clothes steamed gently in the heat of the stove and he clasped both red hands round the comforting warm mug as he drank.

Papa Panov watched him with satisfaction, but every now and then his eyes strayed to the window. It would never do to miss his special visitor.

“Expecting someone?” the sweeper asked at last. So Papa Panov told him about his dream.

“Well, I hope he comes,” the sweeper said, “You’ve given me a bit of Christmas cheer I never expected to have. I’d say you deserve to have your dream come true.” And he actually smiled.

When he had gone, Papa Panov put on cabbage soup for his dinner, then went to the door again, scanning the street. He saw no one. But he was mistaken. Someone was coming.

The girl walked so slowly and quietly, hugging the walls of shops and houses that it was a while before he noticed her. She looked very tired and she was carrying something. As she drew nearer he could see that it was a baby, wrapped in a thin shawl. There was such sadness in her face and in the pinched little face of the baby that Papa Panov’s heart went out to them.

“Won’t you come in,” he called, stepping outside to meet them. “You both need a warm by the fire and a rest.”

The young mother let him shepherd her indoors and to the comfort of the armchair. She gave a big sigh of relief.

“I’ll warm some milk for the baby,” Papa Panov said, “I’ve had children of my own- I can feed her for you.” He took the milk from the stove and carefully fed the baby from a spoon, warming her tiny feet by the stove at the same time.

“She needs shoes,” the cobbler said.

But the girl replied, “I can’t afford shoes, I’ve got no husband to bring home money. I’m on my way to the next village to get work.”

Sudden thought flashed through Papa Panov’s mind. He remembered the little shoes he had looked at last night. But he had been keeping those for Jesus. He looked again at the cold little feet and made up his mind.

babyshoes“Try these on her,” he said, handing the baby and the shoes to the mother. The beautiful little shoes were a perfect fit. The girl smiled happily and the baby gurgled with pleasure.

“You have been so kind to us,” the girl said, when she got up with her baby to go. “May all your Christmas wishes come true!”

But Papa Panov was beginning to wonder if his very special Christmas wish would come true. Perhaps he had missed his visitor? He looked anxiously up and down the street. There were plenty of people about but they were all faces that he recognized. There were neighbors going to call on their families. They nodded and smiled and wished him Happy Christmas! Or beggars- and Papa Panov hurried indoors to fetch them hot soup and a generous hunk of bread, hurrying out again in case he missed the Important Stranger.

All too soon the winter dusk fell. When Papa Panov next went to the door and strained his eyes, he could no longer make out the passers-by. Most were home and indoors by now anyway. He walked slowly back into his room at last, put up the shutters, and sat down wearily in his armchair.

So it had been just a dream after all. Jesus had not come.

Then all at once he knew that he was no longer alone in the room.

This was not dream for he was wide awake. At first he seemed to see before his eyes the long stream of people who had come to him that day. He saw again the old road sweeper, the young mother and her baby and the beggars he had fed. As they passed, each whispered, “Didn’t you see me, Papa Panov?”

“Who are you?” he called out, bewildered.

Then another voice answered him. It was the voice from his dream- the voice of Jesus.

“I was hungry and you fed me,” he said. “I was naked and you clothed me. I was cold and you warmed me. I came to you today in everyone of those you helped and welcomed.”

Then all was quiet and still. There was only the sound of the big clock ticking. A great peace and happiness seemed to fill the room, overflowing Papa Panov’s heart until he wanted to burst out singing and laughing and dancing with joy.

“So he did come after all!” was all that he said.

God bless you all and Merry Christmas! May the true meaning of Christmas remain in your hearts forever.

 

 

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Now Saul had a concubine whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. (2 Samuel 3:7)

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the LORD. And the LORD said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah). Thus David said to the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? And how can I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?” Then the Gibeonites said to him, “We have no concern of silver or gold with Saul or his house, nor is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “I will do for you whatever you say.” So they said to the king, “The man who consumed us, and who planned to exterminate us from remaining within any border of Israel, let seven men from his sons be given to us, and we will hang them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD.” And the king said, “I will give them.” … So the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, Armoni and Mephibosheth whom she had born to Saul, and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she had born to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite. Then he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the mountain before the LORD, so that the seven of them fell together; and they were put to death in the first days of harvest at the beginning of barley harvest.

And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until it rained on them from the sky; and she allowed neither the birds of the sky to rest on them by day nor the beasts of the field by night. When it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, then David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the open square of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them on the day the Philistines struck down Saul in Gilboa. And he brought up the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from there, and they gathered the bones of those who had been hanged. And they buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zela, in the grave of Kish his father; thus they did all that the king commanded, and after that God was moved by entreaty for the land. (2 Samuel 21:1-14)

During the last few weeks we have been reading about women who lived during the period of the Judges. At a certain point in time, God decided to give Israel a king. His first choice was a Benjamite named Saul. This king would not completely follow the Lord with all his heart and so God would take the throne from him. A young man in Saul’s employment would become the next king – David, the man after God’s own heart. David’s kingdom would last unbroken until the Lord Jesus Christ was born. Jesus would be the promised King Who would reign forever.

In the meantime, during this transition period after Judges and before the Davidic kingdom, a remarkable woman lived named Rizpah. Rizpah was Saul’s concubine. As a concubine Rizpah had little say in the events that surrounded her. But God had placed this faithful wife and mother in the center of two incidents that had great consequences in Israel.

As we mentioned, Saul did not obey God. God brought the Philistines against him. The Israelites lost the battle and Saul and his sons were slain. Rizpah was now a widow. This brought about the first incident that had important consequences for Israel.

Some Israelites tried to make Saul’s son Ish-bosheth the new king. That seemed reasonable since usually kingdoms were passed down from father to son.

However this went against what God had declared. God had appointed David to be the new king. A war broke out between the two men and their followers.

Ish-bosheth heard a rumor that his general Abner had “gone into” Saul’s concubine, Rizpah. Whether true or not this angered Abner and he defected to David. This extra military support enabled David to take the throne of Israel without any further trouble. And so a rumor about Rizpah was the incident that led to the end of Saul’s kingdom and the beginning of David’s dynasty.

The second story about Rizpah is the one that she is most remembered for. Indeed today she is still known as the woman who endured the most intense suffering that a mother can endure.

After David became king he still had to war against the Philistines. Remember, the Israelites had suffered defeat while Saul was king. David met them in battle and the Lord gave them the victory. David continued to defeat many other enemies.

Later in David’s reign a three-year famine occurred. David sought God to find out if the people had done something wrong to incur this punishment from Him. Sure enough, God told them that the Israelites were mistreating the Gibeonites. Saul had broken a 400-year treaty with them. (You can read the details of this treaty in the book of Joshua, chapter 9.) Saul had apparently decided to wipe out the Gibeonites. This was not right and displeased the Lord greatly. That is why God sent the famine.

genealogy-house-of-saul-abiel-kish-ahinoam-jonathan-abinadab-malchi-shua-ishvi-ish-bosheth-michal-merab-rizpah-armoni-mephibosheth-ner-abner-jaasiel-ziblaDavid approached the Gibeonites and asked them what would make up for the wrong done to them. The Gibeonites asked that seven of Saul’s descendants be given to them for punishment. They said that they would be appeased if they could hang these seven men. David gave the Gibeonites Rizpah’s two sons and five of Saul’s grandsons. The seven were duly hanged. This occurred during the first days of the barley harvest.

Nobody took care of the bodies. They were just left there rizpahfor the birds and other scavenging animals to pick on. But Rizpah loved her sons and she wanted to take care of their bodies according to the custom. She stood guard over their bodies for five months. Day and night she watched over her loved ones. She covered the bodies keeping he wild birds away and she fought off the wild animals that would have eaten them. Finally someone told King David was Rizpah was doing.

David was deeply moved. He went to Jabesh-gilead and brought back the bones of Saul and Jonathan where they had been left after they were killed in the battle against the Philistines. David made a burial place for Saul, Jonathan, Rizpah’s sons, and the five grandsons of Saul. They were all buried together in their homeland of Benjamin. This was the final chapter in the reign of king Saul. And the famine came to an end.

Rizpah’s name became synonymous with mother’s grief in Israel. No one suffered persecution more. Her way of dealing with it showed great courage, love, and devotion. In the face of hardship she went to work to do all she could asking no favors. God blessed her for her efforts.

Rizpah is an example for us in how to persevere during suffering and persecution. We should not get angry or fight back. We should determine to do what we can to make the best of the situation trusting in God. Though only a lowly concubine, Rizpah showed that all believers no matter what their station in life, should obey God and do the right thing no matter what the cost. God honored Rizpah for her devotion.

 

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And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal (Gideon) went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives, and spoke to them and to the whole clan of the household of his mother’s father, saying, “Speak, now, in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you that seventy men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, rule over you, or that one man rule over you?’ Also, remember that I am your bone and your flesh.” And his mother’s relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem; and they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our relative.” (Judges 9:1-3)

The famous judge, Gideon had many wives. From these he had seventy sons. He also had one extra son, Abimelech, by a concubine from Shechem. This son was considered an outcast by the seventy other sons, not only because his mother was a concubine and not a wife, but also because she was a foreigner – a Shechemite.

As soon as Judge Gideon was dead the Israelites went right back to their harlotry with false gods. They began another of the many cycles that are recorded in the book of Judges. A cycle began with peace from God, then the Israelites’ descent into idolatry, God’s judgment in the form of oppression by a foreign nation, the Israelites calling out to God for mercy and repenting, and God’s deliverance through a judge. As soon as the Israelites were at peace, they forget God and they started the decline into sinful rebellion against God’s goodness and mercy all over again. They never seemed to learn.

During the period of rebellion after Gideon’s judgeship, the Israelites “played the harlot with the Baals and made Baal-Berith their god” (Judges 8:33). There was no judge at this time and many cruel leaders arose to govern the Israelites. One of these was Abimelech, son of Gideon and his concubine. Abimelech was angry at the way he had been treated by his seventy brothers and turned to his mother’s kinsfolk in Shechem to help him become the leader in Israel. They gave him money and hired help. Abimelech went to his father Gideon’s house at Ophrah and killed all but one of his seventy brothers on one stone. Only the youngest son, Jotham, was saved because he hid himself. Abimelech reigned as a cruel tyrant for the next three years.

abimelechAbinelech’s mother must have had great influence in Shechem. It was her brothers who were able to give Abimelech the encouragement, the money, and the manpower to kill the other seventy sons of Gideon. One has to wonder if much needless bloodshed could have been prevented if the other wives would have treated her with more respect. Were she and Abimelech outcasts because she was just a concubine? Were they outcasts because they were foreigners? Either way prejudice was shown against this woman by men who turned out to be idolators themselves. They were hypocrites to abuse people from Shechem when they were worshipping the Shechemite’s god instead of Jehovah.

We don’t know what happened to this mother in Judges, but she must have been special enough for Gideon to single her out as his concubine. Abimelech’s mother played her part in the history of Israel according to God’s providence.

Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years. There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or string drink, nor eat any unclean thing. For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:1-5).

Several cycles of disobedience, judgement, and rescue went by and the Israelites were again doing evil in the sight of the Lord. This time God planned for a special judge, Samson, to rescue His people from the Philistines. An Angel of the Lord appeared to the wife of Manoah and told her she would bear a son. He gave her special instructions for this son – he would be bound by a Nazirite vow right from her womb. This meant that Mrs. Manoah would have to follow the rules for Nazirites herself. She could not partake of anything from a vine, especially wine, and could not touch any unclean thing. She probably did not cut her hair either. When Samson was born she and Manoah would raise him the same way.

It seems that Manoah’s wife was the stronger of the two spiritually. She completely trusted the Angel of God, but Manoah was nervous about the arrangement. He Manoah and Angelprayed for another visit from the Angel. The Angel of God graciously came to the wife a second time. She ran to tell Manoah. The Angel did not tell the couple anything new but only repeated the instructions he had given Manoah’s wife in the first place. Manoah tried to make a burnt offering but the Angel ascended in the flame on the altar back to heaven. This caused the couple to fall on their faces. Manoah thought that now they would die, “because we have seen God!” (Judges 13:22). Manoah’s wife knew better. “If the Lord had desired too kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have told us such things as these at this time.” (Judges 13:23)

Samson’s mother carried him to birth in the manner commanded by the Angel. She and Manoah were apparently good parents, but as we know Samson was a rebellious child at least in one area. Manoah and his wife were unable to get Samson to marry a nice Israelite girl. We all know what happened.

The question could be asked, “Why wasn’t Samson’s father able to make him obey?” One clue comes from the story of the Angel’s visit to announce the coming of their child. Manoah was a weak man. His wife was the strong one but in those days the father ruled the family and the wife was only allowed influence but not the final say in matters. It seems that all of this was the providence of God. The Angel of God had told Manoah’s wife that her son would rescue the Israelites from the oppression of the Philistines. God just hadn’t told her how He would do it. How amazing that God would use Samson’s weakness for women as the way to destroy many Philistines. And how amazing that God did not use the “chain of command” of men over women in order to bring about His purposes. We have seen many other instances in the Old Testament where God worked directly with women. It is His choice and we should be careful not to press our preconceived notions on His actions. God chose Samson’s mother to bring His judge into the world at that time.

Now there was a man of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. He said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver which were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse in my hearing, behold, the silver is with me; I took it.” And his mother said, “Blessed be my son by the Lord.” (Judges 17:1,2)

SONY DSCMicah’s mother had dedicated 1100 shekels of silver to the making of graven images. Unbeknownst to her Micah had stolen the silver. She put a curse on the silver and this frightened Micah into returning it to her.

Now Micah’s mother shows what a confused religion she is following. First she tries to take back her curse when she realizes her son has the silver. “May you be blessed by the Lord, my son!” (Judges 17:2). Apparently she at least paid lip service to Israel’s God by asking Him to bless her son. But is Jehovah just one of many gods to her? It seems that is the case because she then goes on to take two hundred shekels of the silver and have carved images made for Micah. Micah then took the carved image and made himself a shrine in his house. Micah continued to pretend to honor God while bowing down to the gods in his shrine. He disobeyed God by getting himself a priest to help him with this. Eventually his false gods were stolen by a wandering group from the tribe of Dan. (Recall that this was Samson’s tribe.) The Danites then set up the idols as rival gods to Jehovah.

We don’t know what happened to Micah’s mother after he moved out of the house. But her false religion was passed down to her son and then spread throughout much of that part of Israel. This story shows what comes of not following God wholeheartedly. What a contrast to Samson’s mother!

These three mothers all had a part to play in the history of Israel for better or for worse. Samson’s mother was a godly woman who followed God’s instructions faithfully. It was not her fault that her son did bad things. Abimelech’s mother had few choices in the raising of her son, but used her influence in an evil way when she had the chance. Micah’s mother seemed to have been at least confused about God. Perhaps with no leader in Israel at the time she just didn’t know how to worship God properly.

Thankfully we have God’s word and we know how to obey God. Let us be diligent in our obedience and faithful in our service as Samson’s mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After this it came about that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. (Judges 16:4)

For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. (Proverbs 5:3)

Delilah has been the subject of many works including poetry (Samson Agonistes (1671) by Milton), opera (Samson et Dalila, Saint-Saens, first performed in 1877), CASTELLO_Valerio_Samson_and_Delilah_Springfield_Quadrangle_source_sandstead_d2h_0025and oratorio (Samson, Handel, first performed at Covent Garden, London during the Lenten season in 1742). These works follow the Biblical account of Delilah pretty accurately as a scheming, money-grubbing woman with low or no morals. Some modern movies portray Delilah as a femme fatale or other romantic figure. This has more to do with selling the movie rather than telling the truth. Delilah was a selfish, cruel woman. (Also note how inaccurate most movies and pictures are. I had a hard time finding a picture of a Philistine cutting Samson’s hair. Most pictures you will find show Delilah cutting his hair.)

Most of the stories on this blog are about women that we can emulate as godly women. But we can learn lessons from the actions of women who were ungodly as well. The story of Delilah is tragic not only because of her own immorality but also because of how she used and abused one of God’s judges – Samson. This unusual story reveals God’s providence in unlikely lives.

Delilah was not the first woman to get Samson to do her bidding using her sexual charms. Before Samson became involved with Delilah he had already been married to a woman who had used her feminine wiles to entice him into revealing a secret. This angered Samson and resulted in the deaths of thirty men. Then this woman was given away to another man for a wife. You can read this tragic story in Judges, chapter 14. Samson warred with the Philistines during this time. They burnt up his first wife and her father. Samson took revenge on the Philistines, killing one thousand of them at one time with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:15).

Samson had been judging Israel for twenty years when he went to visit a harlot in Gaza. The people there tried to surround and capture him. Samson showed his mighty strength when he pulled up two posts of the huge city gates and carried them up to a mountaintop. This man was so strong that he was seemingly invincible.

At least physically anyway. Morally, Samson was not such a giant. He married his first wife because she pleased him physically. He visited harlots. Into his life came Delilah.

Immediately the lords of the Philistines went to her and talked her into coaxing the secret of Samson’s great strength out of him. Delilah went along with them for 1100 pieces of silver from each of them. That was quite a fortune!

Delilah knew what power she had over Samson. One would think that after the debacle with his first wife Samaon would understand feminine wiles. But Samson was so blinded by Delilah’s charms that he could not see what she was up to. Today we would say that Samson was sexually addicted.

At first, Delilah just wheedled Samson a little. “Please tell me where your great strength is an how you may be bound to afflict you.” Samson was willing to play the game. We have to wonder if Samson remembered how his first wife played this “if you really love me, you’ll tell me” game. Perhaps he thought he could win the contest this time. In any event, Samson gave Delilah a false answer. “If they bind me with seven fresh cords that have not been dried, then I will become weak and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:6, 7) The Philistines brought her the cords and she bound Samson. She knew the Philistines were lying in wait in the next room. As soon as Samson was bound she called the conspirators in but Samson just broke the cords as if they were only threads. The Philistines left and Delilah pouted.

Two more times Delilah chided Samson to give her his secret. Two more times Samson played the game. Two more times Delilah pouted.

Then Delilah pulled out the “You don’t really love me” card that so many women use on men to get what they want. Of course, Delilah did not love Samson. She was only interested in the fortune she could get from the relationship. Samson was so blind by his need for her physical attention that he did not see that Delilah was only using him. This man who was physically strong was weak morally.

Day after day Delilah pressed him with her words until finally “his soul was annoyed to death” (Judges 16:16). It didn’t matter that he had been in this situation once before. Samson forgot everything except how to please Delilah who was obviously very attractive sexually.

Samson at last told Delilah the secret of his strength. He was speaking from his heart when he explained. “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man” (Judges 16:17).

Delilah realized that this time Samson was not toying with her but telling her the truth. She made Samson sleep on her knees. Then a man came in and shaved Samson’s head. When he awoke Samson found that he was weak. He still thought he could go out and do amazing things, but the sad truth was that God had left him.

The rest of the story is very familiar to us. The Philistines gouged out Samson’s eyes and put him into prison where he did forced labor. Where was Delilah at this time? Did she witness the mutilation of Samson’s eyes? The Bible does not say. Delilah probably couldn’t wait to run off and start spending the thousands of pieces of silver she was given by the Philistine lords.

At the end of his life Samson repented and asked God to help him defeat the Philistines once more. Samson’s hair had begun to grow back. Apparently the Philistines did not notice or forgot what that meant.

The Philistines gave a huge feast to celebrate their victory over Samson. While they were making merry they brought him out to amuse them. When Samson had asamson and pillars chance he stood by the two main supporting pillars of the feast hall. He prayed to God for help and asked that he might die with the Philistines. Samson pulled the pillars with all his might and they came down bringing all of the building with them killing 3000 men and women. We do not know if Delilah was among the revelers, but it is very likely that she died along with the others.

God must have forgiven Samson. Later the author of the book of Hebrews lists him with other great men of faith. “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,” who all did might deeds for God (Heb. 11:32).

What can we learn from Delilah’s story? We should be wary of men or women who try to woo us with slick speech. We should stay true to what God wants and refuse all offers that would lead us out of God’s will no matter how enticing they are. And lest we just blame others for being selfish, we should be careful that our own motives are pure when we deal with others. Let us live lives of honesty and integrity.

 

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