Standing In the Struggle That No One Sees

Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the Old Testament book of Judges which describes a period of time in the history of the children of Israel between the death of Joshua and the time of Samuel the prophet of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters nineteen through twenty-one of this Old Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the narrative that is the Old Testament book of Judges coming to an end and concluding. As this Old Testament book of Judges concludes it is quite remarkable and astounding to think about and consider the fact that it was a book that described a tremendous cycle of disobedience before and in the sight of the LORD, the people of God being delivered into the hands of their enemies and adversaries, and them crying out to the LORD in the midst of their despair, discouragement and utter hopelessness. The Old Testament book of Judges is a book about patterns and cycles, and how the people of Israel—after the death of Joshua—found themselves in a tremendous place of patterns and cycles, as they would sin and transgress against the Lord, as the LORD would deliver them into the hands of their enemies and adversaries who would oppress, afflict, spoil and plunder them, and as they would cry out unto the LORD for deliverance. The LORD would indeed hear their cries, and the LORD would raise up a deliverer and judge who would unite men and brethren around them to engage those enemies and adversaries which sought to oppress and afflict the people of God. If there is one thing I can’t help but recognize and understand when reading the words that are found in the Old Testament book of Judges it’s that even though the LORD would raise up a judge to deliver them—with the exception of Samson—the deliverance the people of Israel sought after and desired would come as a direct result of their willingness to unite themselves together with the judge whom the LORD would raise up before and in the midst of them. The LORD would raise up a judge among them who would be willing to unite men around them, and a perfect example is found in the narrative of Gideon who although we initially and originally find him hiding in a wine press, was called a mighty man of valor. Eventually and ultimately Gideon would rally thirty-thousand men of Israel around him for the cause of engaging and defeating the Midianites which had oppressed the people of God. Ultimately, however, the thirty-thousand men which Gideon had rallied before and around him would be dwindled down to three hundred men, which were in fact the original three hundred. Long before Leonidas the king of Sparta united three hundred of Sparta’s finest warriors, there would be Gideon who would engage the entire host and force of the Midianites with a mere three hundred men. The narrative of Gideon describes one who managed to successfully rally thirty-thousand men before and around him, yet would find himself having too many men, and needing to diminish that number to one that would seem to pose and present an image of less strength and might.

Upon reading the Old Testament book of Judges I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that within this Old Testament book we find the people of God living and dwelling in the midst of the inheritance which the LORD their God had given them as a possession, and yet even within and in the midst of that inheritance they would find themselves being oppressed and afflicted by enemies and adversaries which should have never had any power or authority over them—certainly and especially not with them living and dwelling in the midst of the land that was theirs as an inheritance. What I find to be so incredibly tragic about the Old Testament book of Judges is that when the LORD brought the people of Israel into the land to give it to them as an inheritance, He didn’t bring them in to allow their enemies and adversaries to have any authority or power over them. The LORD did not and would not bring His people into the land to allow their enemies and adversaries—the nations and peoples within and around them—to have any dominion over them, for they were to exercise dominion both within the land itself, as well as round about the land. The truth of the matter is that through their disobedience, transgression and rebellion the people of Israel would open themselves up to the oppression and affliction of the enemy, and would find themselves being spoiled and plundered in the land that was to be unto them a source of provision and blessing. It’s utterly and completely amazing to think about and consider the fact that what was intended to be a source of provision and blessing for the children of Israel would be a place of contention, a place of spoiling, and a place of plundering, as they would be sold into the hands of their enemies and adversaries who would afflict and oppress them. How absolutely and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that when the Old Testament book of Joshua ends and concludes it does so with the LORD giving the people of Israel rest from their enemies and adversaries round about them, and allowing them to live and dwell in the land in safety and security. We dare not and mis not miss and lose sight of this absolutely incredible and tremendous reality, for to do so would be to miss the tragedy of the Old Testament book of Judges.

I would dare say that what we find during the days of Saul king of Israel—a reality that would actually not be accomplished until the days of David king of Israel—is the intention and desire of the LORD to restore the rest and peace which He had given unto the people of Israel during the days of Joshua. There is not a doubt in my mind that when the LORD raised up and anointed Saul as the first king of Israel—not only did He want him to rule, reign and govern the people of Israel, but He also raised him to exact vengeance upon the enemies and adversaries of the people of Israel. Two of the enemies which Saul would have to engage in battle and conflict would be the Amalekites, as well as the Philistines, as Saul would be instructed to contend with the Philistines, and utterly destroy the Amalekites. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that the LORD gave Saul a command to utterly destroy Amalek from the face of the earth, and to leave none of them behind, and yet when and as it came to the Philistines, Saul would have to contend with them in battle and conflict. This actually leads me to a point and place when I can’t help but think that there are those things which the LORD can and will call on us to utterly destroy within and from our lives, while there are other things the LORD will ask us to contend and strive with in battle. We must not miss and lose sight of the fact that the LORD never gave Saul the command to utterly destroy the Philistines from the earth, and never gave him the command to slaughter them all and leave none remaining. As you think about and consider the narrative of Saul king of Israel it’s worth noting that Saul was given one explicit command to utterly destroy the Amalekites and to leave none of them behind, but when it came to the Philistines we never find such a command given unto Saul to set his sword and the army of Israel in such array. This is actually quite unique and powerful when you think about and consider it, for I can’t help but think that there are times within our lives when the LORD can and will ask and command us to utterly destroy certain things which need to be completely removed from our lives, and there are other things we might have to contend with on a continual basis, and perhaps overcome and defeat on a gradual basis. When and as it comes to the Philistines on the southwestern border of the land of Israel I can’t help but think about the fact that the LORD would allow them to remain in order that they might learn how to drive them out gradually until they were once and for all completely and utterly subdued. The Amalekites were instructed to be completely and utterly destroyed, and yet the Philistines would remain within their own land as an enemy and adversary the people of God would gradually subdue and conquer.

The Philistines would emerge on to the scene during the days of Joshua, for we find at the beginning of the book of Judges that the LORD left them on the border of the nation and land of Israel that He might teach His people war, and in order that they might be gradually conquered and subdued. The Philistines would be raised up against the people of Israel during the days of Jephthah, and their oppression would reach a tremendous culmination and place of contention during the days of Manoah and his wife, for we read in the thirteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges concerning Samson that he would be born into the land of Israel that he might begin to deliver the people of Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. This reality and concept of “beginning to deliver the people of Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” is quite remarkable and astonishing when you take the time to think about it, for the work which Samson would do—the work of his being a scourge and thorn in the side of the Philistines—would be the beginning of a great and mighty work the living God would seek to do in the midst of the land of Israel. With everything that we know about Samson from the tribe of Dan we must recognize and understand that Samson was raised up by the LORD—not to completely and utterly deliver the people of God out of the hand of the Philistines, but to begin the process of deliverance within and among them in their midst. It’s important for us to recognize and understand this, for it signifies the reality that there might be things within our lives which the LORD can and will begin to deliver us from, which He will not deliver us from all at once. It would have been very easy for the LORD to give Samson—even Saul the first king of Israel—to utterly destroy the Philistines, and yet with Samson the work of beginning the process of deliverance would take place in the midst of the land of Israel. It would be Samson whom the LORD would raise up, and whom the Spirit of the LORD would come upon in order that the work of delivering the people of Israel out of the hand of the Philistines would begin. This is such an incredible and tremendous reality when we think about and consider it, for it is true within our lives as there are times within our lives when the LORD can and very well could deliver us completely and utterly from that which afflicts and oppresses us, and yet what He chooses to do instead is begin the process of deliverance at a certain time, and continuing that process over a period of time. We must recognize and understand that deliverance can at times be a process, and that there are times within our lives when deliverance does not happen all at once, and we might have to contend with that enemy and adversary which provokes, oppresses, afflicts, spoils and plunders us in order that we might one day and once and for all experience the deliverance the LORD has intended and purposed for us.

The more I read and the more I consider the words which are written and found within the book of Judges the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the reality that within the narrative of Samson we find the beginning of the process of deliverance within the lives of the people of God, and within the narrative of Saul (which of course doesn’t come until the book of First Samuel) we find the LORD commanding Saul to utterly destroy Amalek while at the same time having him contend and strive with the Philistines which had been a thorn in the side of the children of Israel for years. We know this to be true, for before we even read of the prophetic word that would reveal the birth of Samson we find that the Philistines had oppressed the people of Israel for forty years. It’s worth noting that the Philistines would still be around during the days of Eli the high priest, during the days of Samuel the prophet, during the days of Saul the first king of Israel, as well as during the days of David king of Israel. It’s amazing to think about and consider the fact that the Philistines were perhaps Israel’s longest standing adversary and enemy, and even today in this generation and in previous generations since the mid 1900’s we find their descendants continuing to be a thorn in the side of the nation and people of Israel. In the Old Testament book of Judges, as well as in the Old Testament books of First and Second Samuel we find the Philistines were perhaps the longest standing adversary and enemy in the narrative of the people of Israel. With that being said, it must be noted that during the days of Samson he was raised up to begin the process of delivering the people of Israel out of the hands of the children of the Philistines, while both David and Saul would have to contend with them during their own days. In fact, it would be David who would first encounter and experience the Philistines when he stared down Goliath in the valley of Elah as Goliath ridiculed, mocked and scorned the people of Israel, as well as the LORD their God. It’s necessary and important for us to think about and consider this reality, for when we think about and consider the narrative of the book of Judges we must understand that when it came to the days of Samson, the LORD would begin a process of delivering the people of Israel out of the hands of the this enemy and adversary who would oppress and afflict them for quite some time. Samson would be the last recorded judge in this Old Testament book of Judges, and it would be during the days of Samson the LORD would begin the process of delivering the children of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines, for the LORD would not deliver them during those days all at once. The LORD would begin the process with Samson, would continue the process during the days of Saul, and would complete the process during the days of David—the man after God’s own heart.

As I sit here today I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that within the book of Judges we find the LORD beginning the process of delivering the people of God from that enemy and that adversary which oppressed them—a process which would continue on through the days and reigns of Israel’s first two kings. What’s more, is that during the days of Saul, which was the first king of Israel we find him contending and striving with the Philistines in battle, and yet his being instructed and commanded of the LORD to utterly and completely destroy Amalek and to leave none alive and leave none remaining in the midst of the earth. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely incredible and tremendous reality, for there are times within our lives when the LORD can and will begin the process of delivering the people of God slowly from that enemy and that adversary which opposed and afflicted them, while instructing them to utterly destroy another enemy and adversary which had afflicted them before, and which the LORD seeks to completely remove from before and around the people of Israel. It would be during the days of Saul that the LORD would give the command to utterly destroy one enemy, while the LORD would allow the Philistines to remain in their own land and territory and continue to provoke the people of Israel. Please pay close attention to this absolutely astounding and remarkable reality, for it brings us face to face with the fact that there are those times within our lives when the LORD will instruct and command us to utterly and completely destroy certain enemies, certain adversaries and certain things within our lives, and there are other times when the LORD can and will allow us to contend with those enemies and adversaries which have afflicted, and which continue to afflict us. The LORD would raise up and anoint Samson of the tribe of Dan to begin the process of delivering the people of Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and even after Samson died—although he would destroy more Philistines in his death than he would during his life—the Philistines would still remain in their land and territory. Moreover, the Philistines would continue to provoke the children of Israel and would continue to oppress and afflict them while they dwelt in the midst of the land. In fact, there is a place in the book of First Samuel where you will find and read that there was a point of time when there would be no blacksmiths at all in Israel, for blacksmiths could form and fashion weapons such as swords and spears. What’s more, is that we find that only Saul king of Israel and his son Jonathan would have swords, while the rest of the man and army of Israel would have no swords because the Philistines would not permit it to be so. Pause for a moment and think about and consider the fact that when Scripture declares that no weapons formed against us shall prosper—there was a time in the history and narrative of the children of Israel when they could not form or fashion any weapons because an enemy and adversary would so violently and cruelly oppress them.

Samson would be the last and final judge that would be mentioned in the Old Testament book of Judges, and it would be through his life the LORD would begin a might work and a mighty process of beginning to deliver the people of Israel out of the hand of the Philistines that they might experience freedom and deliverance from this long standing enemy and adversary. It would be Samson that would begin the process of delivering the people of Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, for the LORD would not completely and utterly subdue them during his days and during his generation. The contending and striving that would need to take place with the Philistines would extend into the days of Eli the high priest, during the days of Samuel the prophet, and even during the days of Saul and David who were kings in Israel. Oh that we would recognize and understand the reality that there are times within our lives when the LORD will have us continue to contend with certain enemies and adversaries in order that we might experience victory, triumph and deliverance at the appointed time. In fact, it wouldn’t be until the days and generation of David when the Philistine champion Goliath of Garth would be slaughtered and slain by David with nothing more than a sling and a stone. It’s worth noting that the work of beginning to deliver the people of Israel out of the hand of the Philistines would begin with one who would slaughter a lion with his bare hands, and it would reach its culmination and conclusion with another one who would slaughter a lion with his bare hands. THE WORK OF CONQUERING THE PHILISTINES WOULD BEGIN WITH LION SLAYERS! THE PROCESS BETWEEN TWO LION SLAYERS! What’s more, is that when it came to this second lion slayer—David the future king of Israel—it would be the lion that would not only prepare him to slay Goliath of Gath, but would also prepare him to unleash a reign of terror against the Philistines during the days of Saul king of Israel, and even during the days of his own reign in the midst of the nation and kingdom of Judah. The work of beginning to deliver the people of God out of the hands of the Philistines would begin with a lion slayer who would strike down and subdue a lion with his bare hands when it roared against him, and the work would conclude and culminate with another lion slayer who would not only strike down the Philistine giant, but would also unleash a reign of terror upon and against the Philistines. We must not miss and must not lose sight of this absolutely astonishing and remarkable reality, for it takes an encounter with a lion to begin the process of deliverance, and it takes a second encounter with a lion to complete the process of deliverance.

IT TAKES A LION ENCOUNTER TO EXPERIENCE A GREAT DELIVERANCE! Oh I can’t help but wonder what lions you might be experiencing within your heart, your mind and your life right now. Through the lives of Samson and David we find men who would encounter a lion early on in their lives before they would ever even begin to engage themselves in conflict and battle with the enemy and adversary of the people of God. It would be both Samson and David who would be used mightily of the living God to unleash a reign of terror upon and against the Philistines, and each of their journeys and endeavors would begin in a private place when a lion would rise up and roar and rage against them. In the case of Samson a young lion would roar and rage against him, while during the days of David a lion would snatch one of his father’s sheep in his mouth. David would ultimately rescue the lamb from the mouth of the lion, and when the lion turned against and rose up against David, he caught it by its beard and utterly slew and slaughtered it. Oh how we must understand that what does in fact prepare us for this process of engaging the enemy and adversary within our lives begins in a personal and private place where we find ourselves engaging with lions that roar and rage against us. It must be noted that David experienced a lion that would roar and rage against him, and later on he would experience a giant that would also roar and rage against him—and not only him, but also the people of God, and even the LORD God Himself. I absolutely love that it takes lion slayers who slaughter lions in the personal and private realm in order for the enemy and adversary to be conquered and subdued in the earth. Both David and Samson would face and encounter lions in a personal and private place, and they would both rise to the challenge of slaying the lions which would rise up against them, and roar and rage before them. Oh we must recognize and understand that giant killers are first lion slayers, and that those who are able to rise up against the enemies and adversaries are first those who are able to engage lions in the personal and private realm. Both David and Saul would encounter a lion, and both of them would slaughter and slay the lion before them. This is a truly remarkable and astounding reality when you take the time to think about and consider it, for he work of delivering the people of God from the enemy and adversary known as the Philistines would begin and end with two men who weren’t afraid to slaughter lions in the private and personal realm, and would slaughter them with their bare hands. Of course we know that the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon Samson, and he tore apart the lion as he would a young kid. What I can’t help but wonder about David that one who would become the king of Israel is whether or not the Spirit of the LORD would come upon him there in the field as he would slaughter and slay the lion which not only snatched one of the sheep with its mouth, but would also rise up, roar and rage against David. In either case we find and discover the both of these men rose up against the lion that roared and raged against them, and completely and utterly destroyed them.

THE PROCESS OF DELIVERANCE AND THE PRACTICE OF CONTENDING! Through the narrative of Samson and Saul we see the comparison of beginning the process of deliverance within the lives of the people of God, and the command and instruction to utterly destroy that which the LORD has called us to completely and utterly wipe out within our lives and from the face of the earth. Through the narrative of Samson and David we see two men who both experienced lions which rose up and roared and raged against them. Samson would rise up against the lion which roared and raged him and would slaughter and slay it in the strength and power of the Spirit of the LORD, and David would rise up against the lion that would rise up and rage against him with his bare hands, as he would completely slaughter and slay him. The narrative of the final judge of Israel would set the stage for the continuation of the process of deliverance that would take place in the history of the people of Israel, as eventually we can and will reach the point where both Saul and David would contend with the Philistines, as David would be the one to finally and once and for all utterly destroy the Philistines from the midst of the earth. It would be David that would completely and utterly subdue the Philistines, and would restore the peace and rest which the LORD had given Joshua during the days in which he led the children of Israel in the conquest of the land of Canaan. For years the judges would lead the children of Israel in a place and path of returning to that place of peace and rest, and it wouldn’t be until the days of David that the peace and rest which was experienced during the days of Joshua would once and for all be restored among them in their midst. What makes this so incredible unique is as you continue reading the words which are found in the final chapters of the book of Judges, for it you begin reading with and from the seventeenth chapter of the book of Judges and continue through to the final chapter of this Old Testament book you will find a dramatic shift away from the judges which governed Israel and delivered them out of the hands of their enemies and adversaries to a period of time in between the judges and Samuel the prophet who would emerge in the nation of Israel. In fact—how the Old Testament book of Judges ends and concludes is quite unique and astonishing, for not only will you find a compromising Levite, but you will also find civil war ensuing in the midst of the land as all the tribes of Israel would unite themselves together against the smaller tribe of Benjamin. How the Old Testament book of Judges ends and concludes is truly remarkable when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it doesn’t end with narratives and accounts of judges, but rather with a compromising priest and a civil war that would break out and ensue in the midst of the land of Israel.

The more you consider the words which are written and recorded within the Old Testament book of Judges the more you will encounter and come face to face with the reality that it is a book that describes an incredibly tense period of time within the history and narrative of the children of Israel. The children of Israel would continue doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and they would find themselves being sold into the hands of their enemies and adversaries who would seek to oppress and afflict them. The book of Judges does in fact contain narratives and accounts of judges whom the Lord raised up to deliver the children of Israel out of the hands of those who would oppress and afflict them, however, we must recognize and understand that with the exception of Samson—the judges which were raised up during this time would rally all those courageous and brave men of war around them who were willing to confront the enemy that had afflicted them. I continue to be absolutely and utterly amazed at the tremendous reality that what we find in the book of Judges is that while and although the LORD had allowed them to be afflicted and oppressed by their enemies, the LORD would not unleash His signs, His judgments, His plagues, and His wonders in the midst of their territory, nor against their enemies and adversaries. In the land of Egypt the living God put on full display before both the Egyptians, as well as the children of Israel His great might and His outstretched arm as He unleashed a series of signs, wonders and judgments within the land of Egypt—plagues which would completely and utterly decimate and destroy the land. IT would be during the days and times the children of Israel would be in the land of Egypt that they would be afflicted and oppressed by Pharaoh and the taskmasters he had set up over them, and it would be there in the land of Egypt the children of Israel would cry out by reason of their groaning and by reason of their affliction. It would be in the land of Egypt where the people of Israel would find themselves experiencing the tremendous pressure of the weight of the burdens the taskmasters of Pharaoh raised up against them. For more than four-hundred years the children of Israel would suffer affliction at the hands of the Egyptian taskmasters, and eventually the LORD would not only raise up and send a deliverer who would deliver and bring them up out of that land, but the LORD would also unleash His power and might through signs, wonders and judgments that would completely hand utterly decimate and destroy the entire land of Egypt.

The Old Testament book of Judges, however, is a book that describes the people of God continually being oppressed and afflicted by enemies and adversaries in whose hands the LORD would sell them into, however, their affliction and oppression would have a different narrative to it than what was experienced in the land of Egypt, for the oppression and affliction would be due to their own rebellion, their own transgression, their own wickedness, and their own disobedience. We dare not, we cannot, we must not miss and lose sight of this, for it helps us understand that which is written and recorded within this Old Testament book. If there is one thing that completely and utterly fascinates me about the Old Testament book of Judges, it’s that even when the LORD would in fact raise up a deliverer among them in their midst—one who would stand against that enemy and that adversary who oppressed and afflicted them—there would still be a tremendous responsibility on the part of men within the land who would make the conscious and deliberate decision to rally themselves around this judge that they might engage the enemy. It would be true the LORD would raise up judges who would deliver the people of Israel out of the hands of those who oppressed and afflicted them, however, the judge would not do the work all by themselves, for they would be the tip of the spear that would be thrust into the very heart of those enemies and adversaries which had afflicted and oppressed the children of Israel. If the judges were the tip and point of the spear that would be thrust against the enemies and adversaries which oppressed and afflicted the people of Israel, then the shaft of the spear would be all those who would rally themselves around and unite themselves with the judge as they endeavored to drive out and push back the enemy from the land. What we find within the Old Testament book of Judges is not only the LORD delivering the children of Israel into the hands of their enemies and adversaries, but there were times when their enemies and adversaries would actually enter into their land and their territory, and would oppress and afflict them in the midst of the land. Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this tremendous reality, for through their rebellion and disobedience the children of Israel would find themselves in the land the LORD had promised unto them and unto their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, however, the enemy would be allowed to afflict and oppress them, and even afflict and oppress them within that land. That land which would experience rest and peace round about during the days of Joshua would now be opened, exposed and vulnerable to the enemies and adversaries round about the people of Israel through their own disobedience and rebellion. That land which would at one point in time experience rest within and rest without would be in a place where that rest and peace would be forfeited and comprised for a period of time as the children of Israel would do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. It wouldn’t be until the judge was raised up and united others around them to engage the enemy and adversary that that peace and rest would be restored in the midst of the land.

In almost every account and narrative of the children of Israel in the book of Judges describes how the LORD would raise up a judge, and how that judge would unite and rally one or more of the tribes of Israel against the enemy or enemies which had risen up against them to oppress and afflict them in the midst of the land. What we read and what we find in the opening chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges is actually quite unique and quite astounding, for in the opening verses of the chapter you will find the children of Israel asking the LORD who among them should go up first against the Canaanites which remained in the land. The LORD would respond unto them by declaring that the tribe of Judah would be the first to go up against the enemies and adversaries which remained within the land. It would be the tribe of Judah that would also entreat the tribe of Simeon to align themselves with them, to enter into their lot, and to fight with them against them within the land. If there is one thing I can’t help but find to be absolutely and incredibly intriguing about the words which are present within this passage of Scripture, it’s how the judges whom the LORD would raise up in the midst of the land and people of Israel would not only judge Israel, and would not only engage that enemy or those enemies which oppressed and afflicted the people of God, but also how they would unite and bring together one or more of the tribes of Israel. In fact, the song of Deborah in the fifth chapter of this Old Testament book seems to indicate a tremendous and powerful reality concerning those tribes which came unto her and which united themselves together with her in battle against those enemies and those adversaries which had risen up against the people of Israel to afflict and oppress them. The book of Judges is as much a book about men uniting themselves with and rallying themselves around that judge which the LORD would raise up among them in their midst, but at times it would also be about rallying the tribes which were in Israel in battle against their enemies and adversaries which would afflict and oppress them. When the children of Israel entered into the land of Israel during the days of Joshua they would fight together as one man against the enemies and adversaries which were present in the midst of the land, yet when you come to the Old Testament book of Judges you will find the tribes seemingly fighting against and engaging their enemies and adversaries in conflict and battle as individual tribes rather than as a single, united people of God. When the LORD raised up the judges among them in the midst of the land—the judges would send out a clarion call and cry within and throughout the land for those who were essentially on the LORD’s side. The judges would send out a call and would sound a trumpet and alarm in the midst of the land calling for the uniting of the tribes of Israel in battle against those who would afflict and oppress them. Oh we dare not, we cannot and must not miss this incredibly important reality, for to do so would be to miss the great truth which surrounds this Old Testament book.

As you read the book of the Judges who would find that most of the judges would unite and rally one or more of the tribes of Israel in battle and array against the enemies and adversaries which had afflicted and oppressed them, however, when you come to the narrative of Samson you will find one who would not unite or rally one or more of the tribes around him, but one who would unleash a reign of terror upon and against the Philistines. When Samson was raised up in the midst of the land of Israel he would essentially be a one man wrecking ball who would be a scourge and snare in the midst of the territory of the Philistines. It would be Samson whom the LORD would raise up to begin to deliver the people of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines, and it wouldn’t be until the days of David when the children of Israel would once and for all be delivered from the oppression and affliction of the Philistines against them and within the land. The oppression and affliction of the Philistines would begin during the days of Jephthah, would begin to reach its height during the days of Samson, and would continue through the days of Eli the high priest, Samuel the prophet, and even David and Saul who were the first two kings of Israel. How incredibly interesting it is to think about the fact that when the book of Judges ended and concluded, it would not end with the children of Israel being completely delivered from the oppression and affliction of the Philistines, for there would still be that one enemy and adversary that would continue to oppress and afflict them. When the book of Judges ends and concludes—and I would even dare say during the days of Ruth and Naomi—the Philistines would continue to oppress and afflict the people of Israel within and in the midst of the land. Despite all the great and wonderful things Samson did in the midst of the land—and even in the midst of the land and territory of the Philistines—he would only begin the process of delivering the people of Israel from the oppression and affliction of the Philistines. The Philistines’ affliction and oppression of the children of Israel would continue through and during the time of a high priest and prophet, and would even continue during and within the reign of the first two kings of the nation and kingdom of Israel. Samson would be the final judge whom the LORD would raise up in the midst of the land of Israel, and Samson would be that one whom the LORD would raise up to begin the process of deliverance among the children of Israel from the oppression and affliction of the children of Israel.

I continue to be utterly and completely fascinated with and by the narrative of Samson, for we find the Spirit of God would move him at certain times within his life, and it wouldn’t be until he would head down into the land of the Philistines to get him a wife from Timnath that the Spirit of the LORD would come upon him. You will read in the fourteenth chapter that as Samson was journeying down to Timnath to get himself a wife from among the Philistines, a young lion would roar against him in the way. Scripture reveals how the Spirit of the LORD came upon Samson, and Samson would rend the lion apart and in pieces as he would a young kid. I still find this to be absolutely and incredibly significant when you take the time to think about it, for before Samson would even engage the Philistines in battle and conflict, he would first find himself coming face to face with a young lion which would roar and rage before and against him. Please don’t miss and lose sight of the significance of this, for Samson would be the first of three lion killers that would emerge within the land of Israel. It would be while Samson was heading down to Timnath to take for himself a wife from among the Philistines that a young lion would roar against him, and the Spirit of the LORD would mightily come upon him as he would rend the lion to pieces as he would a young kid. Just two books later we will find and read of David the son of Jesse who would go unto the battle which was in the valley of Elah as the children of Israel would square off against the Philistines. What we find in the seventeenth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel is not the children of Israel engaging in battle and conflict with the Philistines, for the Philistine champion Goliath of Garth would come forth from the midst of the Philistines and would mock, taunt, and ridicule—not only the children of Israel, but also the LORD their God. When David entered into the camp and heard the taunts and mockery of this uncircumcised Philistine, he would eventually be brought unto Saul the king of Israel and declare that he would rise up against this Philistine in order that he might slay and put him to death. What’s more, is that when Saul attempted to discourage David from squaring off against this Philistine for he was but a youth, and Goliath had been fighting since he was a youth, David declared that a lion and a bear had come up against the flock of his father which he was responsible for, and when the lion snatched one of the sheep in his mouth—not only would he rescue the lamb from the mouth of the lion, but when the lion turned against him, David would grab the lion by the bear and would slaughter him. David would be the second lion killer that would rise up in the midst of the earth, and he would be the second lion killer who would go on to engage the Philistines in conflict and battle. There was another lion killer who would emerge in Scripture, and this man’s name would be Benaiah. Consider if you will the words and narrative of Benaiah, and how Benaiah would join the ranks of lion killers whom the LORD would raise up in the midst of the earth:

“And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow: and he slew an Egyptians, a goodly man: and the Egyptians had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and slew him with his own spear. These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among three mighty men. He was more honorable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three. And David set him over his guard” (2 Samuel 23:20-23).

“Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts; he slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit on a snowy day. And he slew an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cut its high; and in the Egyptian’s hand was a spear like a weaver’s beam; and he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptians hand, and slew him with his own spear. These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among the three mighties. Behold, he was honorable among the thirty, but attained not to the first three: and David set him over his guard” (1 Chronicles 11:22-25).

It’s worth mentioning and including Benaiah, for Benaiah would be one of three men in Scripture who would themselves rise up against a lion, and he would do so in a pit on a snowy day. The question that I can’t help but ask is what would cause Benaiah to go down into a pit on a snowy day. Scripture gives no backdrop for Benaiah’s encounter with this lion as we find in the book of Judges, and in the book of First Samuel. In the book of Judges we find that a young lion roared against Samson, and how the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him as he rent and tore apart the lion as he would a young kid. In the book of First Samuel we find the lion which David slew and killed snatched one of his father’s sheep in his mouth and would have devoured the lamb had David not rescued the lamb from his mouth. That lion would seek to turn and rage against David, and David would grab him by his beard and slaughter him. When we come to Benaiah, however, we find no backstory, nor any underlying encounter that would warrant his killing this lion. I can’t help but wonder if Benaiah did not hear the account of how David had himself slain a lion as a youth when it came against the flock and snatched one of them in his mouth. I can’t help but wonder if Benaiah had spent time with a lion killer, and himself sought to be a lion killer that would rise up against and kill one himself. This similar reality is found in Abishai the brother of Joab who would hang around David who had slaughtered and killed the Philistine giant Goliath from Gath, and would later on slaughter and kill a giant himself. I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think about and consider the absolutely incredible and tremendous reality that within Scripture there are three distinct lion killers who dared rise up against a lion and utterly destroy and slaughter them before them. The first of these lion killers would be Samson whom the Spirit of the LORD would come upon mightily, as he would rend and tear apart this lion as one would a young kid. The second of these lion killers would be David who as a youth would catch a lion by the bear and would slaughter and slay it after he had already rescued a lion from the mouth of that same lion. Finally we find Benaiah who had himself slaughtered his own lion, and did so in a pit on a snowy day. I dare you to read the narratives of each of these three men and consider what tremendous courage, what tremendous bravery, what tremendous strength they would have needed to not only engage a lion, but also to overpower and strike it down. Of course we know that the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon Samson as he would kill the lion that roared against him, and I would dare say it was that same Spirit which moved both David and Benaiah to themselves engage a lion during their days and within their generation. I would dare say that in each of these cases the Spirit of the LORD was heavily and mightily involved in the lives of those who would slaughter and kill the lion which would be before them.

I fully recognize and realize that there is a tremendous amount of language that is found in the final chapters and portion of the Old Testament book of Judges, however, I cannot escape this reality of Samson who would himself strike down and kill a lion that roared and raged against him, as well as David who would rise up against a lion that would turn and rage against him. In both the case and narrative of David, as well as the narrative of Samson we find two men who would be used mightily of the LORD to engage that enemy and that adversary that would oppress and afflict the people of God. Before Samson would begin to unleash havoc and terror in the territory of the Philistines, and before David would face Goliath, and then continue his own campaign against the Philistines—both would have to stare down and face a lion that would roar and rage against them. I can’t help but get the strong sense that for both of these men the lions which they encounter in the personal and private realm was preparation for the enemies and adversaries they would encounter and engage themselves with in their generation. It would be Samson who would unleash a reign of terror against the Philistines as the Spirit of the LORD would come mightily upon him, thus enabling him to unleash a reign of terror against and upon them. It would be David who would not only slaughter and kill Goliath with a sling and a stone, and cut off his head with his own sword, but it would also be David who would face the Philistines from that time on until the final days of his reign as king over Israel when he would once and for all conquer and subdue the Philistines, thus securing peace and rest on that border of Israel. The narrative of these lion killers is actually quite remarkable and astounding when you take the time to think about and consider it, for it would be both David and Samson who would slaughter lions, and who would find themselves facing down lions before they would begin to unleash terror against and upon the Philistines. I absolutely love how Samson would begin the process of delivering the children of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines, yet before he would begin to engage the Philistines within their territory, he would find himself staring down and facing a lion that would roar and rage against him. A similar reality is found within the life of David, for before David would ever face Goliath in the valley of Elah, and before David would ever engage the Philistines in battle from that time on, he himself would find himself encountering his own lion that would not only snatch one of his father’s sheep, but would also turn against him upon his rescuing the lamb from his mouth. Oh I can’t help but wonder what went through the heart and mind of David when he saw the lion snatch the lamb in his mouth, and as the lamb was completely and utterly helpless in the mouth of the lion to deliver itself. Unwilling to allow the lamb to become prey for the lion, David delivered it out of its mouth, and would slay the lion after it rose up against him. I find myself wondering what tremendous strength David would need to exercise and exhibit to rise up against this lion—and not only rise up against it, but also strike it down and kill it. What’s more, is that there would also be Benaiah the son of Jehoiada who himself would encounter and engage a lion, and will kill that lion in a pit on a snowy day.

LION KILLERS NEVER OPERATE IN THE PUBLIC! LION KILLERS NEVER OPERATE BEFORE THE WATCHING EYES OF OTHERS! What we must recognize concerning each of these lion killers in the midst of Scripture was that their encounter with a lion would be in the personal and private realm—that place which was unseen and unknown by others before and around them. In the case of Samson we find that he slaughtered and killed the lion as it roared and raged against him, yet he would not tell his parents that he had slaughtered the lion. In the case of David we find that he would strike down and kill that lion which would turn against him after he delivered the lamb from its mouth, and I would dare say that David would tell no man of that encounter until he stood before Saul as he prepared to enter into a showdown with the Philistine giant Goliath of Gath. In the case of Benaiah, we must recognize and understand that at some point it was noised concerning what he had done, and we aren’t given any indication how it became known unto others—particularly and especially the author of Second Samuel, as well as the author of First Chronicles. What we can tell for certain is that eventually there would come a point when Benaiah would speak of how he had gone down into the pit on a snowy day and had struck down and killed this lion with his hands just as David and just as Samson had done. Oh we must recognize and understand that lions rarely ever appear in the eyes of others, and lions rarely ever appear before the watching eyes of those before and around us, for they will always appear in the personal and private realm. With each of these three men we find and discover that the lions which roared and raged against them appeared in the personal and private realm, and how they weren’t afraid to engage those lions and completely and utterly strike them down and kill them. What’s more, is that each of these men who had slaughtered and slain these lions would do so with their bare hands and would not have any weapon in their hands when they would encounter them. This is significant, for not only would lions appear in the personal and private realm when no one was watching, but they would also appear when they had no weapon in their hands with which to engage them. Oh I would dare say that the only weapon these three men had when staring down and facing the lions they faced was the Spirit of the LORD which would come upon and move them mightily, thus giving them the courage and the strength to be able to engage these lions which were before them.

LION KILLERS AND THE STRENGTH OF THE SPIRIT! As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I am captivated by the wonderful and tremendous reality that in each of these cases with the men who dared rise up against the lions which roared and raged against them—not only did they do so when no one was watching and when no one was around, but so also did they without any weapon in their hands. We read concerning Samson that he rent the young lion to pieces as one would a kid, and in the case of David we find that he caught the lion which turned against him by his beard and slaughtered it after rescuing the lamb from its mouth. In the case of Benaiah we must logically concluded that he had no weapon in his hand when he slaughtered the lion in the pit on a snowy day, for when you read of his encounter with the Egyptian, you will find that he had no weapon in his hand—only his staff. Benaiah would wrest the spear out of the hand of the Egyptian, and would use his own spear to strike down and kill him. If and as we speak about lion killers we must recognize and understand that the only weapon they need to rise up against that enemy which would roar and rage against them was the Spirit of the LORD which would come mightily upon them, and would give them the strength to engage the lion to completely and utterly kill it. Oh how I absolutely love the narratives of these lion killers, for two of them would ultimately be used to unleash a wave and reign of terror against that enemy and adversary which would oppress the children and people of Israel. In the case of Benaiah we find that he was among the thirty elite mighty men of David and would be numbered among the three, and would eventually be set over David’s guard. What’s more, is that Benaiah would also be that one who would be chosen to be the captain over the army during the days of Solomon king of Israel and David’s son. Oh that we would truly recognize and understand the awesome significance of the personal and private encounter of lion killers, and how encounters with lions never happen in the eyes of the public, and are always done in the unseen and personal realm where it’s just us, the lion and the Spirit of the LORD. THE LION, THE SERVANT & THE SPIRIT OF GOD! THE UNSEEN REALM OF THE LION, THE SERVANT & THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD! I implore you to think about and consider the narratives of each of these three men and recognize and understand that time, or perhaps those times when you encounter a lion of your own in the personal and private realm that is unseen by others, and as you encounter and engage that lion in the only strength and with the only weapon you need—namely, the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD as He moves and comes upon you mightily, thus enabling you to engage this ferocious and fierce enemy that would dare roar and rage against you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s