Samson Part 3: Torched Tails
by Sophia Prinsloo with Barbara Wilmerton Haas
Text Version | Afrikaans
Junior lived with his parents and young siblings in a township near a busy road. He loved hearing cars and trucks whiz by, especially during the morning and late afternoon when people were going back and forth to work. They weren't rich by any stretch of the imagination, but they were happy and content because they had clothes to wear, enough food to eat and a roof over their heads.
Junior's dad worked as a bricklayer and enjoyed sharing stories about majestic houses and buildings he helped build. Junior loved listening to his dad's stories. Although he had great respect and admired what his father did, Junior had a totally different kind of passion. He loved cars and dreamed about designing and building them. He taught himself how to make toy cars from things as simple as wire. His wire car had rolling wheels and a steering wheel high enough for him to steer while running.
Junior's five friends were amazed at his wire car, so he decided to make one for each of them. In the afternoons, Junior and his friends would all meet on the pavement and race against one another for a homemade trophy, just like in Formula One racing. Racing was much more fun than doing chores at home, causing Junior to often get in hot water with his mom for neglecting his chores.
One day, Gift (one of his friends who was a little jealous of Junior) deliberately tripped him during a close race, making Junior fall so hard it left bruises all over his arms and legs. In retaliation, he furiously stomped on Gift's car, crushing it to smithereens. He promised himself to never race with his friends again, at least as long as Gift was on the team.
Coming home from school a week later, Junior was hit hard with some bad news. His and Gift's dads, who worked together as bricklayers, had met with an accident at work. Unfortunately, the scaffolding they were standing on had collapsed. Junior's dad was left with a broken leg and Gift's dad with a broken arm. Mercifully, their hard hats had protected their heads but not completely, because they had both suffered from the affects of a concussion as well. As a result, their dads wouldn't be able to work for quite a while and their families needed to scrape up some extra money to carry them through this ordeal.
Junior felt sorry, not only for his own dad, but also for Gift's dad and realized that he couldn't go on being bitter and unforgiving towards Gift. He decided to forgive him and, to show his change of heart, made him a brand new, wire car as a present. He asked God to forgive him for the bad feelings he held against Gift and wondered what he could to do to help.
The next day, Junior eagerly went to Gift's house, made peace with him and gave him the wire car. Gift was very pleased, and the two of them went back to racing their friends on the pavement. They were about to start a new race next to the busy road when a man driving by stopped next to them and asked, “Hello. I'm Mr. Brown. Where did you get those wire cars?”
Junior's friends pointed their fingers at him and answered with one voice, “Junior made them for us!”
“That's some great craftsmanship, son!” he exclaimed. “Tell you what, if I bring you some wire and paint, will you make a car for me too? I'll pay you for it.”
“Sure,” Junior answered, smiling from ear to ear.
The man continued and said, “Listen, I have a shop in town. I'll buy every grand-looking wire car you can make and sell them in my shop for you. How does that plan sound to you?”
“It's a deal!” Junior said, gladly shaking the man's hand, realizing this must be an answer to his prayers.
Junior was so inspired it was as if a fire had been ignited in his belly. After selling a couple of wire cars, he even began employing Gift and his other two friends to help him make these wire cars. In this way, Junior was not only overcoming his difficult circumstances but also fulfilling his God-given talent and using his passion for cars to help meet the needs of his family and friends.
Living back home with his mom and dad again after his wedding was quite awkward. It took Samson quite some time to shake the anger he felt in his heart for his wife since she betrayed him during their wedding festival. After a while, he started remembering the good things he liked about her and began to miss her. He decided to forgive her wholeheartedly. With the excitement of harvest time in the air and its ripened fields waving in the wind like liquid gold, he made up his mind to put his pride in his pocket and go, make peace with her. Picking up one of his most beautiful, kid goats as a present for her, he set off expectantly for Timnath.
The problem was, now that Samson had a Philistine wife, the Philistines were basically his family. He didn't really want to fight them to deliver Israel from them as God had purposed for his life. Samson only thought about himself and neglected the calling God had for him. He never dreamed that being disobedient to the Lord would cause him so much heartache. God never intended to withdraw Samson's calling from his life. Instead, He arranged his circumstances in such a way that they would stir up a fire within for God's purposes.
Samson arrived in Timnath. KNOCK, KNOCK! He knocked at the door of his Philistine father-in-law's house.
“Who's there?” came the coarse voice of his father-in-law from the inside.
“Samson, your son-in-law!” Samson exclaimed, full of excitement and expectation.
“SAMSON!” his father-in-law gasped from behind the closed door, almost fainting from shock. He said, “GO AWAY, PLEASE!”
“WHY? I want to see my wife,” Samson demanded.
“She is NOT your wife anymore!” The reply from behind the closed door came as a shock to Samson, but his father-in-law explained, “I thought you were SO angry with her that you never wanted to see her again, so I gave her to your best man from the wedding.”
“WHAT?!” Samson roared furiously.
Samson's father in-law was so scared of this mad, muscular man standing outside his door that he tried to appease him. He pleaded, “Her younger sister is much prettier than she is. I'll let you have her as a wife instead!”
Samson would have none of it. Beside himself with anger, he yelled so loudly that the whole Philistine town could hear him, “You can't blame me for whatever happens next!”
Samson was so mad that he could think of one thing only — REVENGE! With a plan in mind, he gathered 150 long-lasting, slow-burning torches. Then he set hundreds of fox traps, catching 300 bushy-tailed foxes in the traps. Grabbing a pair of foxes from the traps with his strong hands and arms, he tied their tails together, placed a burning torch between them and set them free to run through the fields. He sent out 150 pairs of torched-tailed foxes.
Have you ever tried to run somewhere while you were tied to a friend, like in a three-legged race? It didn't work that well, did it? Likewise, each pair of foxes tied together ran too slowly for the burning torch to be extinguished. On top of that, it prevented them from running into a foxhole to hide.
Samson's plan was a roaring success. The fearful foxes ran through the ripe grain fields and olive orchards of the Philistines, setting on fire the ripe, unharvested fields, the neatly stacked sheaves already harvested, and the olive trees that had a bountiful supply of ripe olives on them. A strong wind aired the flames into a red-hot, uncontrollable inferno, consuming everything in its path.
When the Philistines saw the smoke from afar, they came running and tried to extinguish the fire, but nobody could come near the searing hot, quick-moving, crackling flames. They were devastated because much of their grain and olive harvests were destroyed in the fire. Now they were not going to have enough food for the winter and they sorely wanted to know who was responsible.
“It was Samson!” came the reply from the people of Timnath. “It's because his father-in-law gave his wife to another man.”
Like a monster grabbing them with its claws, the thought of revenge took hold of the Philistine bullies in the cruelest of ways. They wanted to harm Samson where it would hurt him the most — his wife. In a mad frenzy, they gathered around the house of Samson's wife and father-in-law, burning it to the ground with them inside. How utterly horrible!
When Samson heard the terrible news of his wife's murder, he angrily threatened the Philistines, “If you want to do it this way, I'll not rest until I've avenged myself on you!” So he came down and killed many of them and then went to live in the cave in the rock of Etam.
The Philistines were so angry about their dead kinsmen that they wanted to avenge themselves on Samson and kill him. So they came with a whole army and camped in Judah. From there, they prepared to attack at a place called Lehi. The men of Judah were afraid of the Philistine army and didn't want to fight them, so they sent a peace party to them to ask why they wanted to attack them. The Philistines said that if they would give them Samson, they would not attack. “We want to catch and bind him, and do to him what he did to us,” they said.
The cowardly men of Judah replied, “Wait here while we get him and bring him to you.”
While the Philistines waited, not one, not two, but three thousand men of Judah went to find Samson at the rock of Etam. They told Samson, “The Philistines want to fight against us and kill us because of you! Don't you know that they're ruling over us and are stronger than we are? What have you done to us?”
Samson crossly replied, “I only paid them back for what they did to me!”
The men of Judah were so scared, they would rather betray Samson and save themselves than to defend him. So they answered, “Samson, we have nothing to do with the quarrel between you and them, and we don't want to fight them. We came down here to bind you and give you over to them. Will you let us do that?”
Samson had faith and was confident that he could single-handedly overpower the Philistines, so he replied, “Okay, but only on one condition will I let you take me! Promise me you won't attack and kill me yourselves, but that you'll hand me over to the Philistines alive.”
The men of Judah did not want to be known as murderers of their own people, so they made a solemn promise to Samson, saying, “We promise we won't kill you but only bind you and give you over to them.” So Samson allowed them into the cave where they bound him with two new, strong ropes. Then they pulled him up from the cave and took him to the Philistines.
When the men of Judah arrived at Lehi and the Philistines saw Samson bound, they broke out in a gleeful roar! But, in the presence of the enemy's joy, the Spirit of the Lord came over Samson, making him so strong that with one jerk of his arms, the ropes on his arms snapped like flax catching fire. It was as if the bonds melted off his hands. He was free!
He looked for the nearest thing he could find to use as a weapon. Lo and behold, it wasn't a knife, or a sword, or an axe, or a spear, or a rod. There happened to be the fresh jawbone of a dead donkey lying around. He grabbed it and, before the Philistines could run away too far, he slayed a thousand of the fleeing Philistine enemies. When there were no more Philistines in sight, he threw the jawbone away and called the place Ramath-Lehi, which means “the hill of the jawbone.”
Samson was exhausted and extremely thirsty after fighting and slaying a thousand men without a break. He thought he was going to die because, to his dismay, there was no water around. He called out to God and said, “Lord, today You have used me to bring such a great and wonderful victory to your people, delivering them from the Philistines. Must I now die of thirst and fall into their hands again?”
The Lord had pity on Samson, answered his prayer by making water gush out from a hole in the ground. Samson drank and drank until his spirit was revived. Afterwards, he named the place “The Spring of the Man Who Prayed.”
The Israelites stood in awe of Samson's strength, so they appointed him as their leader for the next twenty years. Unfortunately, during this time, the Philistines were still in charge of the land.
Never let an unforgiving spirit against someone keep you from fulfilling the purpose God has for you. Forgive those who have sinned against you and you'll be able to overcome the real enemy who wants to keep you as a slave to sin.
1. What bad things happened to Samson?
2. How many foxes did Samson catch?
3. What did Samson do with the torches?
4. What did Samson use to kill a thousand Philistines?
5. What was muscular Samson known for?
6. How did he use his strength to please God and help his people?
7. What did God do when Samson was thirsty?
A VERSE TO LEARN
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
ALTERNATIVE VERSES TO LEARN
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).
Do you think Samson did well to forgive his wife? Is there someone you need to forgive? Who forgave you from your sins? Who is your real enemy?
What are you good at? How can you use it to help people and glorify God?
What did Samson do when he was exhausted from the fight against his enemies? What can you do when you feel exhausted or weak, or when you're overwhelmed from bad things happening in your life?
[After discussion:] When you forgive someone, it not only helps them, but it helps you too. Jesus said, if you want to be forgiven by Him, you must also forgive those who hurt you.
Just like Samson loved and forgave his wife, and took her a gift, Jesus loves and forgives you, and gives you the gift of eternal life. God says that your real enemy is not people but the devil and sin.
As a Nazarite, Samson was not to touch anything dead because it would make him unclean. The Bible tells us he used the jawbone of a dead donkey, taking upon himself uncleanness; yet he overpowered the Philistines. In the same way, Jesus took your sin upon Himself and was victorious over the devil for your sake. Just like Samson, who was thirsty when he had victory over his enemies, Jesus was thirsty when He paid for our sin on the cross and had victory over the devil.
Whenever you feel exhausted by sin or circumstances, or need strength to do what God tells you, call out to Him and He will gladly strengthen you. Remember, Samson only began delivering Israel from their enemies, but Jesus came to deliver you completely from sin, the devil and eternal death.
Heavenly Father, help me forgive those who've done
me wrong and rather bless them. Forgive me from all
my sins and help me to know what your purpose for my
life is. Help me stir up the gift you have given me,
to honor You and help others. In Jesus' Name I pray.
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