Listen to the Full Audio Version Here
The Human Condition was once perfect and free of adversity. But after the fall of man in the Garden of Eden the human condition became characterized by flaws and failures. We became prone to sin. And with the emergence of sin, we also saw the birth of adversity.
Adversity, which is now a part of our human condition, challenges us on mental, physical, and spiritual levels. There are many sources for the adversity that we face in our lives. These adversities could be a result of our actions. It could be an attack from the enemy. But it could also be the call of the Holy Spirit leading us towards a wilderness that draws us nearer to Him.
Our response to adversity is important. Because it's our response to adversity that determines whether or not we draw closer to God and overcome, or drift further away from him and fall to adversity.
The good news is there is an example to follow. Throughout the Bible we see numerous examples of people just like us who have faced adversity. Their struggles with adversity shed light on how we can biblically respond (or not respond) to adversity and overcome the trials and tribulations that mark our human condition.
This is the 3rd week in a series I've entitled "Responding to Adversity" in which we will look at how these Biblical characters responded to adversity, and key takeaways from their struggle with adversity that we can apply to our day-to-day lives. This week's study on responding to adversity will be a deep dive look into Samson's response to betrayal (see link below for last week's devotional, Responding to Adversity - Satisfying Our Emptiness).
Perhaps one of the most popular stories of betrayal that is known of from the Bible is that of the betrayal of Jesus by one His close disciples, Judas Iscariot. This morning when I woke up and opened my Bible to a random passage for my morning devo (as is my usual practice), I was taken to another story of betrayal, probably less known. In reading through the story of Samson in Judges 14 and 15, I learned that Samson was betrayed by wife, his friend, and his people.
But the story doesn't stop there. After all of these betrayals Samson goes on to have arguably one of the biggest victories of his life. He goes on to overcome 1,000 of his enemies using only the jawbone of a donkey. And similar to the story of Samson, we see that Jesus also experiences His biggest victory, which is that of His victory over sin and death when He rose from the grave three days after His crucifixion.
A Story of Betrayal
Samson was no ordinary man and the uniqueness of his story begins before he was even born.
A Few Facts Leading Up to Samson's Birth -
- Israel (the chosen people of God) had once again fallen away and turned their backs on God. Because of this, the Lord delivered them into the hands of their enemies, the Philistines. - Judges 13:1
- The people of Israel had been under the rule of the Philistines for 40 years, when a man named Zorah and his wife Manoah conceived a son, who they named Samson. - Judges 13:1
- However, before Zorah and Manoah conceived, they were visited by an Angel of the Lord who told them that they would conceive (they were barren up until that point so them having a child was in itself a miracle), but also told them that Manoah must not drink any wine or eat any unclean thing while she is pregnant. - Judges 13:4
- The Angel also told them that their son will be a Nazarite to God and deliver the people of Israel from the hands of the Philistines. - Judges 13:5
- As a Nazarite, this meant Samson was not allowed to drink, eat any unclean thing, or cut his hair. - Judges 13:5,7
- The Angel that told Manoah and Zorah this news then vanished up to heaven in the flames of an offering Manoah had built for God. - Judges 13:19-21
Samson's Wedding - The 1st and 2nd Betrayal
We don't have much information on the years prior to Samson meeting his wife. We see that Judges 13 introduces the details leading up to Samson's conception and birth, and Judges 14 begins with Samson seeing his wife for the first time.
Needless to say, this event was important.
Samson met his wife in Timnah and was immediately infatuated with her. We see repeatedly that "she pleased Samson". It's also important to note that his wife was one of the Philistines. This is significant because God would use this to incite an occasion for the people of Israel to turn against the Philistines.
"Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.” But his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord—that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel." Judges 14:3-4 NKJV
Unaware of God's plan and purpose for this marriage, Samson takes this Philistine woman as his wife. During one of the marriage ceremonies, Samson plays a game of riddles with 30 of the men at the ceremony. He proposes that if they solve the riddle, he will owe them 30 garments of clothing, but if they are unable to solve the riddle within 7 days of the feast ending, they would owe Samson 30 garments of clothing.
Well, the 30 weddings guests agree to partake in this game of riddles. However, not as fairly as one would expect. On the 7th day, the last day of the feast, they went to Samson's wife and threatened to burn her and her father's house if she didn't help disclose the answer to the riddle.
Afraid for her life, Samson's wife urged and insisted that he tell her the riddle. Samson did tell her the answer and she went and told the wedding guests who threatened her.
Enraged at his guests and their cheating ways, Samson vengefully killed 30 men, stole their clothing, and gave that as recompense for the lost wager. Still consumed by anger, Samson left this event and went up to his father's house, at which point his wife was then given to his best man!
"Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house. And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man." Judges 14:19-20
Not only was Samson betrayed by his wife, he was also betrayed by his best man.
Samson Led to the Slaughter - The 3rd Betrayal
Unaware that his wife had been given to his best man at this point in time, Samson left his father's house and returned to his wife, only to be stopped by his father in law, who told Samson she had been given away.
Once again enraged, Samson decided to get back at the Philistines by catching 300 foxes and tying a torch between each pair of foxes and letting them loose in the fields of the Philistines to burn up their grain, vineyards, and olive groves.
Upon hearing this news, the Philistines burned Samson's ex-wife and her father, but Samson once again enraged, killed the men who did this and fled up to the cleft of the rock of Etam.
There at the rock of Etam, Samson was met by 3,000 people of Israel (his own people), who came to arrest Samson and deliver him up to the Philistines.
Samson agrees to be bound up and go with them willingly as long as they promise not to kill him, but rather only deliver him up to the Philistines.
At this point, Samson has been betrayed by his wife, his best man, and his people, who have now delivered him up to the Philistines to be killed.
Then in Judges 15:14-15 we see Samson's story take a turn for the better -
"When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it." - Judges 15:4-5 NKJV
God has delivered Samson from his enemies, and granted him the victory of a lifetime.
After his victory against 1,000 foes, Samson called the place of the battle Ramath Lehi, which means jawbone height, and an extreme thirst came upon him.
"And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi. Then he became very thirsty; so he cried out to the Lord and said, “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant; and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?” So God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore he called its name En Hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day. And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines." - Judges 15:17-20 NKJV
Samson cried out to God in his need for sustenance and God once again provided for Samson and made a well to appear so that Samson could drink and be revived.
How We Can Respond to Betrayal
Here are 3 ways we can respond to the adversity of betrayal -
1. We can respond to the adversity of betrayal with faith, rather than anger.
- We see that each time Samson was betrayed he reacted out of anger, which only led to another negative outcome. After hearing his wife betrayed him, he fled to his faither's house, at which point his wife was given away. After hearing about his wife being given away, he burned down the fields of the Philistines, which led to his ex-wife and father-in-law being burned. After hearing about this, Samson then went and killed the Philistines who burned them, which incited the anger of his own people against him.
- Samson's response to betrayal is not far from what most of us would do. We would all try to get even. But even in the midst of betrayal, we should have faith that God has a plan and purpose, and that He will not let us be overcome by our trials.
2. We can respond to the adversity of betrayal by calling out to God for sustenance.
- We see in Judges 15:19 that God responded to Samson's cry of thirst and provided a way for him to be revived. Just like God responded to Samson, He will also respond to us and make a way for our bodies, minds, and souls to be revived in the midst of adversity, even the adversity of betrayal.
3. We can respond to the adversity of betrayal with thanks.
- This might seem impossible. But consider this - the betrayals that happened to Samson delivered him from people in his life that really didn't want was best for him, and also placed him in a position where God's power and glory could be displayed through him.
- Just like the doors of betrayal hid blessings for Samson, God can also use this adversity to bring about his perfect outcomes in our own lives, and for this we should be grateful. We should be grateful that despite the circumstance, and despite every attempt to destroy us, if we stay close to God and seek Him, God is always there watching over us, protecting us, and guiding us.