Twenty years have passed since we last saw Samson in action, and it appears that his strength has not abated – nor has the Philistines’ hatred of him. But something else has a hold on him, and it brings his ruin when he falls in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. Her motivations are clear from the outset: a substantial financial reward awaits her if she’s able to subdue Samson. Less clear is what’s driving Samson, who will not realize – until it’s too late – that the LORD had left him.
In chapter 17 the camera moves once again, pulling away from the Judges themselves and focusing on scenes of Israelite life during this period. In fact, the only thread connecting chapters 16 and 17 is the amount of silver that changes hands in each story.
The first undated account tells how Micah, an Ephraimite, returns pilfered silver to his mother, who is so elated that she “solemnly consecrates [her] silver to the LORD for [her] son to make an image...” You have probably already discerned the multiple violations of the covenant, and there will be more before our time is up. The second account, in chapter 18, tells how the tribe of Dan secured land in northern Canaan, and also did some stealing of their own.
This is another story where dialogue drives the plot, revealing the character of both speaker and nation. When Micah hires a sojourning Levite as his personal priest, he celebrates his good fortune: “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.” And when an armed militia from the tribe of Dan comes and steals Micah’s priest and idols, they warn him, “Don’t argue with us, or some of the men may get angry and attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives.”
In those days Israel had no king. The phrase for which Judges is best known does not appear until chapter 18, and is the hinge on which this story swings. You can consider the author’s purpose for making this observation at all, and for inserting it where he does, as you watch the story unfold.
Our verse for this week is John 3:35: The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.
Judges chapters 16 through 18. Now let’s read it!
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.