Samson’s Ancient World Problems

Modern suburban life is full of annoyances.  Getting up early during the week to commute to work.  Getting up early on the weekend because your neighbor hired landscapers for the early shift.  Staying up too late on a Wednesday because someone in your neighborhood decided it was time for fireworks even though it’s not a Hallmark-recognized holiday.  Constant notifications from your phone that you have a new email.  Having to spend time deleting the majority of your emails because they’re spam that made it through the filter.  Recycling the majority of your regular mail because its junk.  Wondering if you put recyclables into the wrong bins.  Paying more for gas and groceries because of inflation.

Such annoyances are sometimes jokingly called “first world problems” or they might even get cringeworthy hashtags like #1stworldproblems.  When I recently read Judges 14:6 I was reminded of such problems.  It says:

 “Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon [Samson], and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.” (emphasis mine)

The writer of Judges wanted everyone to know how easy it was for Samson, in God’s power, to kill a lion, so he compared it to how “one tears a young goat.”  Not how “one clicks the trash can icon to delete an email,” or how “one sets an alarm clock to get up early,” or how “one pumps gas in their car so they can travel in minutes what once might have taken days.”  No, Samson killed a lion “as one tears a young goat.”

My handy study Bible has no statistics on how often individuals killed young goats with their bare hands in Samson’s times, but for it to work as a metaphor to the original audience of Judges, it must have been quite easy and common.  Maybe more common than fireworks on non-holidays, or easier than pumping expensive gas after a quick tap of a credit card.

First world problems indeed.  At least we probably won’t need to kill a goat today, or especially not a lion.  May God grant us the patience and strength to deal with whatever comes our way today.

Also, if you got an email telling you this was posted, feel free to delete it, unless it went to your spam folder, in which case you probably aren’t reading this.  It just takes a click of a button.

Perspective on Feasts

Sometimes Proverbs seems like a collection of sayings in a random order but sometimes taking one out of context can change the meaning entirely.  Take for example Proverbs 15:15 –

All the days of the afflicted are evil,
            but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.”

One way of reading this might be that if we have a continual feast, we will of course be cheerful, while affliction will sour our attitude.  However, the following two verses tell us that what we consider to be a feast is a matter of the perspective we bring to it, not the contents of the meal:

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD
            than great treasure and trouble with it.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
            than a fattened ox and hatred with it.”

When we choose the fear of the Lord, and to live in love for those we feast with, even a small meal of herbs can be a feast!  From a heart of thankfulness, we can be satisfied with whatever manna and daily bread the Lord provides, instead of begging Him for quail.

Therefore, “the cheerful of heart has a continual feast” not because of an elaborate, expensive, multi-course meal, but because of a heart of love that reveres the Lord. If today serves you nothing but herbs, be thankful instead of being like this sad dwarf.

Only God Gets the Glory for Gomer’s Goods

Photo by David Köhler on Unsplash

In the story of the Old Testament prophet Hosea, God told him to marry a prostitute named Gomer to teach a lesson about idolatry, but also God’s steadfast love and mercy.  Gomer was not only a prostitute physically, but also spiritually, worshipping other gods, which isn’t limited to literal, physical idols.  Hosea 2:8-9 explains that idolatry includes giving credit to other gods (or no gods) for things that the LORD had actually provided.  God said through Hosea:

And [Gomer] did not know
            that it was I who gave her
            the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished on her silver and gold,
            which they used for Baal.
Therefore I will take back
            my grain in its time,
            and my wine in its season,
and I will take away my wool and my flax,
            which were to cover her nakedness.”

In other words, if Gomer doesn’t recognize the true source of her blessings, God is fully justified in taking them away.  Fortunately, He is a God of love and mercy, who provides for our nakedness – both physical and spiritual, beginning all the way back in Genesis 3:21, which says: “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”  Adam and Eve had fallen and became ashamed of their condition, expecting God to judge them, but instead He covered them physically, but also set in place a plan to redeem His people by the blood of Jesus.

In Gomers case, “And the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.’  So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.”  (Hosea 3:1-2)

Fifteen shekels was not a lot of money, meaning other people didn’t value Gomer much, but God and Hosea were faithful and loved her.  The real price of God’s people – His own Son – was much steeper, but He decided we’re worth it even though we are unfaithful.  It is His faithfulness that really matters.

Therefore, today be thankful!  For the One who gives us “the grain, the wine, and the oil” and the “silver and gold” is the same One who died for us to make us His own people.

Soli Deo Gloria