Every Good Gift Comes from Above

Judges 16:20

“But he did not know that the LORD had left him.”

Samson fell in love with Delilah, who betrayed him by selling his secret of power to the enemy, and they captured him. He thought he could shake himself free again but didn’t know that his strength had left him (v.19). His hair had no magic power, but was a provision that he must fulfilled to be set apart for the Lord. His power was from the Lord (Judges 14:6, 15:14).

James 1:17 says, “Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same.” (ERV) Everything we have is from the Lord, to be used by him through us to bring him honor and glory, but how often do we act like those are our own making? How often do we act like we are so capable of things, that we can rely on ourselves and achieve great things, without giving thanks to or even thinking of the Lord and his calling and purpose in our lives?

Let us stand firm in our faith, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), including every strength or power that we have, and seek to honor the King by following his will to do his work on earth, proclaiming His great name. May the Lord lead us to follow him with a sincere, pure heart, and motivations that centered on Christ, with thankfulness for what He has done for us!

Emotions are Powerful

Judges 15:3

“Samson said to them, ‘This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.'”

When Samson’s wife betrayed him (at their wedding banquet), by manipulating him into telling her the answer of his riddle given to her people (the Philistines), and telling her people the answer so Samson lost the game/bet. He got so angry that he left his newly-wed wife and went back to his father’s home. His father-in-law thought that he hated his wife so he gave her to his best man (Judges 14: 20, 15:2) When Samson later came back to find his wife, he found out about this, and that’s when he said those words in verse 3, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” He went on to destroyed their fields, shocks, standing grain, vineyards, and olive groves. His anger was really burning, and he wanted revenge to do real harm.

What happened then? The Philistines burned his wife and her father to death! (v.6) So Samson said, “Since you’ve acted like this, I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” (v.7) And he killed many of them. So they pursued him and was about to attack Judah to get him (v.9) What a vicious cycle!! We can understand why Samson would feel angry in his situations, but we also see the tragic consequences of his behaviors in anger. Probably none of those later tragedies would have happened if he didn’t leave his wife at their wedding banquet and went away in anger, without explaining anything to her or her father.

How often do we feel and do similar things? “You make me so angry, so I will fight and attack back to get you. I will make you hurt too, and even worse because you deserve it!” “You make me so angry and hurt, so I have the right to be silent and not talk to you, for as long as I want! I am going to punish you with this silence and distance between us!” Thoughts likes these are not uncommon to us, and we feel so innocent and justified. The EXB translation of Judges 15:3 says, “But Samson said to them, ‘This time ·no one will blame me [I am justified/blameless/innocent] for hurting you Philistines!'” What a vivid picture of our hearts in anger sometimes. No wonder God warns us that, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” (Proverbs 29:11) If we pick up a mirror and look into it in those moments, we see a fool giving full vent to their rage.

Psalm 37:8-9 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” It encourages us to remain obedient to the Lord’s commands in our anger, and look to Him and His grace, instead of looking to what we are not getting and letting our emotions control us so that we become a slave to them. God is faithful. The truly wicked will be destroyed by Him. Our job on earth is to shine for Him and bring many to Him. Let us not let strong emotions control us or let our hearts deceive us. May God help us to trust Him even when we are wronged and hurt, and help us to learn from Jesus and to love people even when we are not loved back, like how we were loved so much by God that He sent His only Son to die for us in order to save us, when we didn’t acknowledge him and despised his holy name (Romans 5:8).

Wisdom and Humility Facing an Enemy

Judges 11:12b

“‘What do you have against me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?'”

When the enemy (Ammonite king) came to attack the Israelites, Jephthah the leader of Gilead didn’t respond in anger and attack back. Instead, he moved towards the enemy, seeking out communication by asking the Ammonite king this question, to understand him first. This takes great humility and is true wisdom when we face an attack from someone.

The Lord teaches us through Proverbs 16:32, that “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Being patient with self-control is not weak or stupid, nor is it being a doormat. It’s a beautiful fruit of the Holy Spirit working in us, to put faith and trust in God, and to show kindness and love when we are challenged.

May God grant us wisdom and humility with patience and self-control when we face difficult and challenging situations that tempt us to sin. May He help us to put faith and trust in Him, knowing that He is sovereign in all our circumstances, and He loves us and protects us.

Disarming an Angry Person

Judges 8:1-3

Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, ‘Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?’ And they challenged him vigorously. But he answered them, ‘What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?’ At this, their resentment against him subsided.

How often have we engaged with an angry person, but only left the interaction feeling angry and deeply hurt because the conversation had escalated quickly where we started “shooting arrows” at each other with our tongues?

When the Ephraimites complained (angrily) that they had been called out only belatedly into the battle, Gideon’s humble answer turned away their anger, instead of “shooting” back at them by saying things like, “have called you out when we have done all the hard work, and you only needed to capture the leaders whom we had chased into your hands. And you have had great victory and benefits from this. What do you have to complain about?” (We can image how that conversation would go.)

The Lord teaches us in his wisdom, “A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow.” (Proverbs 15:1, ERV) This is a great lesson to learn as we humble ourselves before the Lord, and see things from his perspective, acknowledging that it’s God’s doing and will in our lives that preserve us in his grace, giving us anything that we have, and giving the glory to him, “God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?” May the Lord help us to keep looking to Jesus as we are challenged by others’ anger, and humble us to help turn their eyes to God as well, that anger would be disarmed, and love restored.

 

Beauty of the LORD

Psalm 90:17

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;

establish the work of our hands for us-

yes, establish the work of our hands.”

What a beautiful vision to have the beauty of the Lord rest upon us! Our greatest joy as children of God is expressed well in Psalm 27:4, “I ask only one thing from the LORD. This is what I want most: Let me live in the LORD’s house all my life, enjoying the LORD’s beauty and spending time in his palace.” (ERV)

As we dwell in his house, see his glory, and discover his will (EXB), the Lord himself establish the work of our hands for us – the work that he prepared in advance for us to do through these hands that are created by him and belong to him (Ephesians 2:10). What a comfort and blessing that we don’t live or work alone, or without purpose, but we live and work in and with our Creator and Savior, in this temple which his favor dwells, for his glory!

The Compassionate Lord

Mark 8:1-3, 8

“…Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus…said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already bene with me three days and have nothing to eat…they will collapse…because some of them have come a long distance’…The people ate and were satisfied.”

This passage teaches how compassionate Jesus is toward those who follow and seek him. It’s the same for our spiritual journey. Sometimes we get faint-hearted after trying to stand in trials and our hearts might feel empty or extremely anxious or fearful facing the ‘giant’, like the people who would collapse in this story if they did not receive grace from God, and Jesus would not let us go on that way. He has compassion on us. It teaches us to endure in hardships, trusting that Christ will come to help and deliver us, in a real and practical way, just like how he fed the four thousand with food. Jesus is our Manna in the wilderness. He will come and feed us, and we will eat and drink from his fountain of life and be satisfied. He is faithful to his promise.