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Catch a Fox; Seek Revenge part 3 of 6

Updated: Jan 20

Yesterday we left off with Samson being betrayed by his bride; he became enraged and killed 30 men. The woman of his dreams became the wife of his best man, at his wedding! And then we stop and reflect on verse 4, “His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.” ESV

This was God’s plan? And it only gets worse for Samson.

Samson came from the tribe of Dan, and lived along the Mediterranean coast, just north of the land occupied by the Philistines. It would have been early Spring as the wheat harvest begins as soon as Spring arrives in that part of the world and that is where we pick up in chapter 15 Judges.

Several days had passed since Samson’ betrayal, rage, murder spree and ultimately his woman being given to another man in marriage at what was supposed to be Samson’s wedding. But time has cooled his temper and he decided to take this woman a dozen red roses and apologize. Actually, he took her a young goat, but the sentiment is the same.

When he got to her home, the dad would not let Samson see her. Does he learn a lesson from his recent experience? One could say that, but it was not a lesson for the good.

Samson became violent. What he did next is hard to fathom. The SPCA would be all over this case. The court of public opinion would have him sentenced and thrown in the dungeon, or worse.

Samson caught 300 foxes. Have you ever stopped and thought about what it would take to capture 300 foxes? I have seen one fox on my property in the almost 3 years I have lived there. But 300? What would it take?! Certainly time. He would also need a place to keep the foxes caged, fed and healthy. He had a plan, and it was a bad one.

The story says that Samson tied two foxes together, tail to tail, which a dry torch between each pair of tails. He now has 150 pairs of foxes, each carrying a torch. What he did next is hard to imagine, but he set fire to the torches and turned them loose.

“…he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to the stacked grain and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards.” Judges 15:5 ESV

I have no idea how big that conflagration must have been, but this is war and things are going from bad to worse.

“Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?” And they said, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” And the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire.” Judges 15:6 ESV

Can you see the progression of lust. That’s how this whole story started. H told his father and mother that a young Philistine woman had caught my eye and he wanted to marry her, telling his parents “Get her for me.” Judges 14:2

Samson lusted for a woman outside of his own people and it ended in misery for many people.

He was tricked by his lover into giving up the answer to the riddle; he became enraged and killed 30 men. His woman became the wife of his best man, at his wedding. He tries to make amends but is denied. He then catches 300 foxes and burns the fields of the Philistines. We are talking about all their standing wheat which was ripe for harvest, their vineyards and their olive groves. Samson did a lot of damage and destroyed much of the food stock. The Philistines in turn burn to death Samson’s wife and his father-in-law. Gruesome! But it’s not over. says when you experience anger, it’s almost impossible not to feel like a victim, for virtually all anger can be understood as a reaction to what feels threatening or unfair to you.

The author went on to say, “…Despite the fact that anger rarely solves anything and frequently makes matters worse between you and the person or situation that incited it, in the moment it still affords you considerable gratification. However unconsciously, self-servingly resorting to anger offers you the “reward” of both comfort and consolation.”

Humans are such odd creatures and once fueled with hatred, anger and feelings of injustice, there is almost nothing humans won’t do. Samson was no exception.

“Samson said to them, “Since you would do a thing like this, I will surely take revenge on you, and after that I will cease.” So he attacked them hip and thigh with a great slaughter…” Judges 15:7-8 NKJV

What does it mean to attack hip and thigh? I read several commentaries this morning and I felt Benson Commentary gave it the simplest explanation. It seems to be an expression that denotes a desperate attack and total overthrow.

It might be safe to say, Samson was out of his mind with anger and thoughts of revenge.

What can we learn from this story? Oh, it’s not over, not by a stretch and I ask myself, “really? This was God’s plan?” But what can we learn?

As a young mother, I learned to count to ten. Not out loud as though giving my child one last chance to comply, but inwardly, giving myself a chance to take a breath and think about what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. It didn’t always work, but I tried.

It is not possible to take one lesson from this story, but I would say for today, let’s take this: don’t let anger take hold.

“A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back. An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression. A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.” Proverbs 29:11, 22, 23 NKJV

by Jeanette Stark – Wednesday, January 18, 2023

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