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January 2017 Issue

The Hand of Salvation: Divine Rescue in Judges and Ruth

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Devotion for Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017

God’s Memory: Samson’s Final Vengeance

Read JUDGES 16:23–31

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Their idols are . . . made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. Psalm 115:4–5

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law on July 29, 1990. The legislation ensured greater accessibility to schools, stores, stadiums, business, and government buildings. Additionally, individuals with developmental and physical disabilities should have access to community-based services and experience less discrimination. Even so, we can do more to see that all people in our society—able-bodied and disabled—flourish.

Samson’s story is the longest in the book of Judges, and in the final episode we find a very different Samson from the previous chapters. The mighty warrior is now disabled. He is not invincible but he is vulnerable, having to be led by the hand of a servant boy on account of his blindness. He is not feared but mocked—the laughingstock of teeming crowd of Philistine spectators. He is not powerful but helpless, reduced to one last pleading prayer to the sovereign God of Israel. As the curtains close on his life, the man called by God to deliver Israel is buried under a pile of rubble— victorious and vanquished at the same time (v. 30).

Samson exemplifies the nation of Israel during the time of the judges. Samson was a picture of spiritual compromise and eventual humiliation. His love for Philistine women lured him away from his call to separateness. Israel was also called to be holy and separate, yet they compromised their loyalty to God by serving the gods of Canaan (see Ex. 19:6). And though Samson prayed to God in this final scene, his prayer was self-serving. He wanted to avenge the loss of his eyes (v. 28).

Despite Samson’s lust and vengeance and failure, God continues to glorify Himself. The temple of Dagon falls, proving that only one God hears prayer. Only one God saves.

Apply the Word

Samson’s prayer was less concerned for Israel’s welfare (and God’s glory) than about avenging his eyes. And yet, God hears his prayer. May that encourage us! Though we pray “blindly,” filling our prayers with self-serving requests, God hears. Let’s confess our inability to pray, and remember God’s graciousness to hear and answer imperfect prayers.

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