Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 13

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Read Judges 16

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Read verses 1-5. So far – that we know of (see lesson 12, link above) – Samson has gone against the wishes of his parents, married a pagan wife, broken his Nazirite vow, exhibited “hot anger” and personal vengeance, abandoned his wife, fornicated with a prostitute, fornicated with Delilah, and is about to lie multiple times (10, 13, 15). Why did God elevate someone so sinful to the position of judge over His people? Why did God use someone like that in His righteous purpose of delivering His people from the enemy, and to point ahead to Christ? Why would God commend someone like that by naming him in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11?

Why does God use you or me? Why does He continue to show us mercy when we continue to sin? Does the fact that God uses someone to accomplish His purposes mean He condones or overlooks that person’s sin? Can you think of any other instances in Scripture in which God used an unrepentant sinner or a pagan nation to accomplish His purposes? Examples of this from history? In your own life or the life of someone you know?

Compare the picture Judges paints of Samson and his sin to the picture Scripture paints of David and his sin. What similarities do you see? What differences?

What was God’s purpose (5) in Samson pulling up the gate and posts and carrying them to the top of the hill (3)?

3. Read 4-22. If Samson had not chosen to sin by shacking up with Delilah, would he have found himself in the position of feeling he had to lie to her, being betrayed by her, and having his life endangered by the Philistines? It has been said (and sung) that “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, sin will keep you longer than you want to stay, and sin will cost you more than you want to pay.” Explain this “snowball effect” of sin. How was this true in Samson’s life? Has this ever been true in your life? Have you repented?

How does this passage demonstrate this biblical truth: Trusting in the pleasures of this world and giving your heart away to this world (17-18) brings death, but trusting in the Lord and giving your heart away to the Lord brings life. Which Scriptures argue for this idea?

How could 2 Timothy 2:21-22 have been helpful instruction to Samson? How can this passage apply to your own life?

What does verse 20 mean when it says “the Lord had left him”? Why did the Lord leave him? Is this, as well as what the Philistines did to Samson (21, 24, 25), the logical, natural, and biblical consequence for his sin?

4. Read 23-31. Scripture clearly teaches that we are not to bring reproach upon the name of God in the eyes of pagans by sinning. Explain how Samson’s sin ruined his witness to the Philistines of the one true God and gave them opportunity to mock both Samson and God. Take a moment to imagine what Samson’s life and witness might have been like if he had spent his life pursuing holiness, loving God, and desiring to please Him.

Have you ever ruined your gospel witness to someone by sinning? Have you repented? What could you have done differently in that situation to glorify God with your words or actions in the eyes of the other person(s)?

What was Samson’s stated motive for wanting to kill the Philistines? (28) Was this a selfish or godly motive? What should his motive have been? Have we ever seen Samson pray or call out to God before verse 28 (see lesson 12, link above), or did Samson tend to act on his own volition in the flesh? How does 28-30 demonstrate that Samson’s humbling himself and acknowledging God led to his greatest victory: dying to self, and destroying the enemy?

5. Imagine you’re one of Samson’s brothers (31), and you’ve been given the task of giving his eulogy at the funeral. What would you say about Samson and his life? How could you use his life to point unbelieving funeral attendees to Christ?

6. Compare and contrast Gideon’s (lesson 6, link above) weakness and fear to Samson’s strength and arrogance. Which man’s condition led him to depend more greatly on the Lord? What were the results of Gideon’s dependence on the Lord versus Samson’s self-reliance? How do these two men help demonstrate the spiritual paradox of strength in weakness?

7. How did Samson’s miraculous physical strength point upward to God’s infinite and omnipotent strength?

8. Is the story of Samson a story about how great Samson was, how great a sinner Samson was, or how a great God showed great mercy to a great sinner? Think about this in terms of your own life story.


Homework

  • Certainly, all have sinned, sin is lawlessness, failing in even one point of the law makes us guilty of it all, and we have no righteousness of our own to boast in. Understanding all of that, is it right, biblical, and fair to view someone who loves Christ and lives her life to please Him, yet occasionally falls into sin, demonstrates godly grief over it, repents, and flees from it, as being in the same category, spiritually, as someone who lives to please himself and doesn’t really care whether or not he sins? Why or why not? Support your answer from Scripture.

    Which category do you think Samson was in? Which category are you in? If you think it might be the second category, I would urge you to examine yourself and consider whether or not you’ve truly been born again. Scripture is clear that those who unrepentantly persist in sin are not saved. You may wish to review the gospel and work through my study Am I Really Saved? A First John Check-Up.
  • In question 3 above, I said Samson “felt he had to” lie to Delilah. For Christians, would God ever put us in a position in which we have to lie? Back up your answer from Scripture, not circumstances. How could Samson have answered Delilah without lying? Have you ever been in a situation in which you “felt you had to” lie? How could you have answered instead? Were you in that situation due to the “snowball effect” of sin? Listen to this episode of the Truth Be Known podcast: Is Lying Always Sinful?

Suggested Memory Verse

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 12

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Read Judges 14-15

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Read 14:1-4. Compare this passage to Deuteronomy 7:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Why did God command Israel not to intermarry with these pagan nations, and why does God command Christians not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers? Were the Philistines among the nations God commanded Israel not to intermarry with? Is it fair to say Samson was obeying the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law? Why or why not?

Compare Samson’s statement at the end of verse 3 and verse 7 to the theme verse of Judges (21:25).

In verse 4, does “he” refer to Samson or the Lord? Examine the cross references for verse 4. Did God think Samson’s marriage to a Philistine was a good and godly union, or was He using Samson’s foolishness for His own purposes?

3. Read 14:5-20. What does it mean that “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon” Samson? (14:6,19, 15:14) What does the fact that this happened several times in this brief passage (along with many other discrete instances of the Holy Spirit suddenly coming upon a person in the Old Testament), indicate about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament compared to the Holy Spirit permanently indwelling all Believers in the New Testament?

Why was it important to Samson to keep secret from his parents where the honey (9) came from? (Hint: Think back to the requirements of the Nazirite vow from lesson 10 – link above.)

4. On the map below, locate Zorah and Eshtaol (Judges 13:2, 25), where Samson and his family were from, in relation to Timnah and Ashkelon where the action in today’s passage takes place (disregard the arrows). Describe how Samson’s actions in chapter 14 functioned as sort of a stealth, small-scale invasion of Philistia and sheds light on our earlier examination of 14:4. How does the “one man invasion” strategy we see God using here with Samson compare to the “small army” strategy He used with Gideon (see lesson 7 – link above). Consider the actions of the 3000 men in 15:13-15 as you answer.

5. Read 15:1-20. Describe the cowardice of the men of Israel in 13-15. Think about all of the places in Scripture where God tells His people to stand firm, fear not, cry out to Him for help, and trust Him. What should these 3000 men have done instead? Compare their fear of the enemy to Gideon’s fear of the enemy (lessons 6&7 – links above), and their response to the enemy to his response to the enemy.

Are there any ways in which 11-13 pre-figures Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, our perfect Judge, and the high priests handing Jesus over to the Roman officials?

How was Samson’s defeat of the enemy (14-16) different from Jesus’ defeat of the enemy at His first coming? How could “You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant,” (18) be said of Jesus centuries later?

6. Consider Samson’s motives for each of his attacks on the Philistines in today’s passage, his “hot anger” in 14:19, and his apparent posture of personal vengeance in 15:7. Now compare these to his statement in 15:18: “You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant,” and recall what the angel told Manoah and his wife (see lesson 11 – link above) about Samson’s mission and what they probably told Samson about all of that. Is it reasonable to infer that Samson viewed his attacks on the Philistines in today’s passage as consciously carrying out his mission of “he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines,” (13:5) or was he just a hot head getting personal revenge?

If someone came to you and said that Samson’s aforementioned motives, anger, and apparent posture of personal vengeance conflict with James 1:20: “the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God,” (because God’s righteous purpose of pushing back the Philistines was accomplished here) and Romans 12:19: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,'” how would you answer that person? (Hint: Be sure you’re reading all of these verses and passages in context.)


Homework

  • Recall from lesson 10 (link above) Samson’s parents’ wisdom and godliness, and the wise and godly counsel they gave him in today’s passage. Consider their good counsel in light of these passages. Why is godly counsel important? How can you tell the difference between counsel that is wise and godly and counsel that is unwise, fleshly, or merely pragmatic? Who would you go to for wise, godly counsel if you needed it? What can you do to prepare yourself to give wise, godly counsel to someone who comes to you asking for it?

Suggested Memory Verse

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 11

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Read Judges 12:8-13:25

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Read 12:8-15. Notice again (as we saw in lesson 4, link above) the copious details God gives us about some judges, like we’re about to see with Samson, and the sparse details He gives us about other judges, like Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon. Why do you think there’s such a discrepancy? Is this an indicator that some judges were more important or more faithful than others? Why not? Think about the things you do to serve the Lord. Do you do them for recognition and accolades, or simply because you love Him?

3. Read 13:1-7. How does verse 1 set the scene for the story of Samson? What was Manoah’s wife’s name? Why doesn’t the Bible tell us?

Who are some other women in the Bible you can think of who were barren, or functionally barren, and then conceived miraculously? How do all of these women’s miraculous conceptions serve as a type and shadow of Mary’s miraculous conception of Jesus? Particularly compare “Mrs. Manoah’s” conception story to Mary’s. What similarities do you see? What differences?

Did any of the other women who conceived miraculously, including Mary, receive the same instructions Mrs. Manoah did in verses 4-5? What is a Nazirite? What were the requirements of a Nazirite vow? (Hint: check your cross references on verse 5, then click here). Why do you suppose God set Samson apart as a Nazirite, but none of the other judges?

What does God mean in verse 5, that Samson shall “begin” to save his people? Think about the judges we’ve already studied, and keep this in mind as we continue to study Judges. Are any other judges described as beginning to save their people? Compare this statement about Samson to the angel’s statement about Jesus in Matthew 1:21. How does Samson’s mission point ahead to Jesus’ mission?

What was the first thing Mrs. Manoah did after the angel ascended? Why?

4. Read 13:8-14. Mrs. Manoah had an unbelievable story to tell. Did Manoah believe his wife? (8, 11) Did Manoah believe God? (8, 12) Compare Manoah’s response to the news that his barren wife would have a son to Zechariah’s response to the news that his barren wife would have a son. Why did Zechariah bear an even greater responsibility than Manoah to believe the Lord about this?

5. Read 13:15-20. Is it possible this appearance of the “angel of the Lord” (16) was a Christophany? Give specific evidence from this chapter and its cross references to support your answer.

Why wouldn’t the angel tell Manoah his name? (18 – Check your cross references. You may also need to do a little more digging on the significance of names and greetings in Old Testament culture.) Is there a connection between “wonderful” in verse 18 and “wonders” in 19?

What is the significance of Manoah and his wife falling “on their faces to the ground”? (20)

6. Read 13:21-25. Why did Manoah think he and his wife would die? (22) Explain how Mrs. Manoah’s explanation (23) was a good example of a wife giving wise, godly counsel to her husband. Explain Manoah’s wisdom in listening to her here and throughout today’s passage. How did Mrs. Manoah exemplify being a helper fit for her husband? How was she, as Proverbs mentions, a good thing, the crown of her husband, prudent, and more precious than jewels?

7. Carefully examine each action of Manoah and of Mrs. Manoah, as well as their words in 13:6-24. What evidence do you see that Mrs. Manoah was a godly wife, and that she submitted to her husband? What evidence do you see that Manoah was a godly husband who loved his wife? How can you tell they desired to be parents who honored and obeyed God in their parenting?

8. What does today’s passage teach us about the nature and character of God?


Homework

  • Back in Judges 10, we saw that the judge Jair had 30 sons who rode on 30 donkeys, and in today’s passage, 12:14 tells us Abdon had 70 sons and grandsons who rode on 70 donkeys. This might strike us as a weird little factoid to include about these judges, but is there any significance to it? What’s up with these donkeys? Grab a good commentary, study Bible, or internet search engine, and see what you can find out. Share your findings in the comments if you like.
  • What lessons did you learn from Manoah and his wife about having a godly marriage? How can you apply what you’ve learned to your own marriage?

Suggested Memory Verse

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Catch Up Week

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,

I’m out of pocket this week, so you get a catch up week!

Catch up on any lessons you might be behind on, go back and do any of the homework you may not have had time for, review your memory verses, or if you’re already caught up, you could even read ahead in Judges a little. It’s your week to use as you see fit. Happy studying!

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 10

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,

Read Judges 10-12:7

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Read 10:1-5. Notice again (as we saw in lesson 4, link above) the copious details God gives us about some judges, like Gideon, and the sparse details He gives us about other judges, like Tola and Jair. Why do you think there’s such a discrepancy? Is this an indicator that some judges were more important or more faithful than others? Why not? How might this help us understand, especially in light of today’s evangelical celebrity culture, that neither fame nor obscurity are a measure of a Christian’s faithfulness to the Lord or effectiveness in the work of Kingdom?

3. Read 10:6-16. Why does God consider idolatry such an egregious sin for His people? How is idolatry the opposite of glorifying God? How is idolatry harmful for those who practice it?

Compare 10:10 with 10:15-16. Did Israel put away their idols and worship God when they first cried out to Him? Compare this to the “godly grief” and “worldly grief” over sin in 2 Corinthians 7:8-11. Have you ever exhibited worldly grief over your sin instead of godly grief? What was the result?

What was the point God was making to Israel in 10:11-14? In today’s world, even many professing Christians would say that God was being harsh and unloving in what He said because of His tone and His words. Is this true? Explain why what God said to Israel in these verses was, in fact, loving. What did it lead Israel to do in 10:15-16?

4. Read 10:17-11:28. Explain in your own words what is going on here. (Use your cross-references for help.) Why did the king of the Ammonites say he was making war on Israel? (11:13) Did he have his facts straight? (11:14-23) How long ago had all of this taken place? (11:26)

Compare 11:24 with 10:11-14. Try to see this potential war and the battle for land through the eyes of both the Ammonites and the Israelites, who viewed their gods / their God as the commander in chief of their military – the one who led them into battle, gave them victory over the enemy, and gave the conquered land into their hands. What is the message of today’s passage about God’s supremacy over all other gods? His power compared to their power? How should this realization have caused Israel to remain faithful to God? How might this realization have converted some of the Ammonites and other pagans to faith in the one true God?

5. Read 11:29-40. Describe in your own words what is happening in this passage. The heading for this passage is “Jephthah’s Tragic Vow”. Why was his vow tragic? Does it seem from the text that it occurred to him that a family member might be first to come out?

Did God approve of human sacrifice? Did God approve of people breaking their vows to Him? How could Jephthah have handled this entire situation in a godly way instead of in the way he handled it?

The text of this passage supports the theory held by some theologians that Jephthah did not actually slay his daughter, but instead offered her as a “living sacrifice,” never to marry and have children, but to serve the Lord full time in the temple for the remainder of her life. Read these articles: Did Jephthah sacrifice his daughter to the Lord? and Jephthah’s Daughter and see what you think. Is the evidence stronger for Jephthah slaying his daughter or for dedicating her to serve in the temple?

If Jephthah slew his daughter, compare his sacrifice with Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac. Were there any similarities between these two events? How were they different? Why do we consider Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac to be heroic, but Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter to be sinful and tragic? How does Abraham’s sacrifice point to Christ’s sacrifice for us, but Jephthah’s sacrifice was more akin to sacrificing children to false gods?

If Jephthah dedicated his daughter as a “living sacrifice” to serve full time in the temple, compare her service and her sacrifice to God’s call to Christians to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.

6. Read 12:1-7. Shades of lesson 8 (link above)! Why is Ephraim always getting perturbed at not being called up to join in the battle du jour?

7. Think about some of the “shining knight” types of heroes and “happily ever after” victories outside the book of Judges, for example: Moses leading Israel out of slavery after the ten plagues, David defeating Goliath, Solomon building the temple, Elijah and the defeat of the prophets of Baal. Compare these to some of the “dark heroes” and “tarnished victories” we’ve seen (and will continue to see) in Judges so far. Deborah – a woman. Jael – the glory for the victory goes to a woman. Jephthah – the son of a prostitute (in a culture in which family pedigree was crucial). Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter and battle with his fellow Israelites after defeating the Ammonites. How does this add to the feeling of the heaviness, darkness, and pervasiveness of sin that permeates the book of Judges?


Homework

We’ve noted before that God always preserves a remnant of those who are faithful to Him. A least a few Israelites must have been faithful to the Lord during the time described in 10:6-16. How do you survive these times of crushing oppression – knowing you’re not guilty of the sin that brought it on – if you’re an Israelite who’s faithful to the Lord? Put yourself in that godly Israelite woman’s sandals, yet with access to today’s Scriptures. Which passages do you turn to for comfort and strength? Which of God’s attributes do you meditate on? How do you pray?


Suggested Memory Verse