“Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.” Then he leaves Gaza carrying the city gate with him and goes to the Valley of Sorek. There he falls in love with another ungodly woman named Delilah, who does not have his best interests at heart. The lords of the Philistines bribe Delilah to find out where Samson’s strength lies. As Delilah attempts to uncover his secret, Samson allows her to place him in bondage three times. However, Samson is just toying with her. “And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart, and said to her, ‘No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.’” Once again, Samson caves into the pestering of a woman like he did with the Philistine wife and the honey riddle. God has warned His people over and over since the exodus from Egypt not to commingle with the people around them who are walking outside of the presence of the Lord. Samson’s downfall is due to his disobedience, as he is a man who walks by sight making decisions based on the lust of the eye and fleshy emotions instead of walking by faith and trusting in the Lord, in His word, and in His promises. However, the Lord uses Samson’s disobedience to accomplish His purposes, but it results in a tragic life for Samson.
While Samson is asleep, Delilah has his head shaved. “Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down 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.” At the end of his life, when Samson is brought to the temple of the false god Dagon to entertain the crowds, he prays for the Lord to give him strength one last time so he may take vengeance on the Philistines for the loss of his eyes. The Lord hears his prayer, and Samson pushes down the beams of the temple killing about three thousand Philistines, which was more than he had killed his entire life. Although Samson suffered major consequences as a result of being a sinful, fleshly driven man, he was still a man who had faith in the Lord, as we see here at the end of his life (Hebrews 11:32-34).
Next we meet a man named Micah, from the tribe of Ephraim, who stole a great fortune from his mother. However, when he returned the shekels to his mother, she praised him and asked him to make a shrine, ephod, and household idols from the fortune that he stole from her. Then Micah makes one of his sons a priest. The Judges Era is defined as a period of time in Israel when “there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The story of a Micah is a good illustration of someone doing what is right in their own sight, as we see him making up a new religion with his false gods and man made rules. When a Levite named Jonathan, one of Moses’ grandsons, shows up at Micah’s house looking for a place to stay, Micah welcomes him in and makes him his priest. Jonathan is a priest who offers to serve for his own personal gain and not for the glory of the Lord.
At this time, the tribe of Dan is still trying to acquire land for themselves since they failed to drive out the inhabitants of their allocated land during the conquest. So they send five men to spy out the land, and the spies go to the mountains of Ephraim where they arrive at the house of Micah. There they recognize the voice of the Levite. Then the spies from the rebellious tribe of Dan ask the rebellious Levite priest, Jonathan, for God’s blessing, which is interesting because clearly no one is obeying the Lord. The men desire God’s blessing while completely ignoring His Word.
After receiving a blessing from Jonathan, the spies continue scouting out the land and find some easy territory to conquer, a city called Laish. Before the tribe of Dan conquers the land, the spies go back to Micah’s house and say to the Levite priest – “‘Is it better for you to be a priest to the household of one man, or that you be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?’ So the priest’s heart was glad; and he took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved image, and took his place among the people.” Jonathan glady goes with the tribe of Dan and continues to build his own platform for his own interest.
“So they took the things Micah had made, and the priest who had belonged to him, and went to Laish, to a people quiet and secure; and they struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire… So they rebuilt the city and dwelt there. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel… Then the children of Dan set up for themselves the carved image; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.”
This story shows how far away from the Lord the Israelites are at this point. Moses’ own grandson leads an entire tribe into idolatry and away from worshiping the true God in the way and place the Lord told His people to worship Him. We will see during the Divided Kingdom Era that this idolatrous city of Dan will continue to be a central place of false worship for Northern Israel.
Tomorrow we meet another Levite living a life in complete rebellion against the Lord, resulting in a very dark outcome. Keep reading. (Judges 16:1-18:31)