Week 23: Judges 14-16

Samson & The Lord Makes Samson Strong

ST MATTHEW IN THE WORD DURING LENT

Lent is a time of preparation and reflection as we head toward the remembrance of Jesus’ death on the cross for us on Good Friday and His resurrection from the Grave on Easter. Throughout the six weeks leading up to Easter you can make your time in St Matthew in the Word reflective of the season.

One way you can do that is with candles. Take 6 candles of any size and shape and arrange them in the shape of a cross (if you have one of the cross candleholders from St Matthew a few years back, you can use it, but it’s not necessary). Then, each week during Lent light one less candle (all six the first week, then five the next, etc.) symbolizing the darkness that covered the world when Jesus, the Light of the world, died on Good Friday. Then on Easter, light them all! Jesus is risen!

Lent Music

Triple Play

Use the Triple Play as you read with your family, your small group, or even in your personal devotion times!

Highs and Lows: Start by sharing at least one high and one low from the day. Don’t skip this step!

Daily Dig: As you read the text of the week, customize your experience with resources found here to help you grow!

Pray: Take time to pray about the highs and lows and what you’ve read. Give thanks for the highs, ask for help in the lows, and pray for God’s Word to be alive in you each week!

Daily Dig Resources

Everyone learns differently, so we have lots of ways that you can make your time in the Word your own.

Digital Resources

These videos and resources will help you dig in and understand the passage.

 

Other Helpful Resources

Do Something

Ideas for activities and things to do to apply the text.

 

Journaling and Discussion Guides

Kiddo Activity

Samson’s Strength was from God Do any of you like to play superheroes at home? The Wieneke children (and mom) used to enjoy putting on costumes and pretending we had superhuman strength (Wieneke mom still does). In this week’s story, Samson wasn’t just pretending. If you watch the video this week starring our mighty warrior, you will hear about Samson’s amazing feats of strength. Tearing a lion into pieces? Powerful! Catching 300 foxes and tying their tails together? Unbelievable! Striking down 1,000 men with a bone? Remarkable!  Samson, like many of us, struggled with sin and remembering WHO gives us our gifts, talents and blessings. It took some very painful experiences and him losing his strength for Samson to cry out to God, “O Lord, please remember me. Give me strength one more time.”  Have fun creating your own Samson at home and remember your strength comes from God too (even if you can’t fight a lion).
  • Cut out Samson’s head and two muscle arms
  • I have an example below of how I positioned his arms to show off his powerful pose. I used scotch tape on the back to tape the paper arms to the popsicle stick.
  • For his long hair, I cut the yarn in different lengths and then tied a knot in the middle. Used a drop of hot glue to stick the knot to his head but feel free to come up with your creative ways too!

Devotions

Written by people you worship with at St Matthew.

 

Strength is Found in the Lord

By Reverend John Diener

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

You’ve all heard of superheroes who have a particular weakness (nemesis) that causes them to lose their ability to be victorious over their foes. Superman has his kryptonite. Green Lantern has the color yellow. Thor can’t be without his hammer for one minute. In Judges 14-16, we find a Judge, Samson, a man known for his superhero strength, diminished by the cutting of his hair.  Or was it something more? (Spoiler alert: it was!)

Yes, Samson was a Nazarite from conception. God called the people of Israel to be holy (set apart) but He also called Samson, whose name means “shining like the sun” to be set apart from the world. A person under the Nazarite vow would be known for clean, healthy living. They drank no alcoholic beverages and lived on a sparse diet. No razor would touch his head. He was noted for his acts of great strength – from killing a lion with his bare hands to defeating an army of 1,000 Philistines with a jawbone to bringing down an entire temple dedicated to Dagon, the Philistine god.

I grew up watching the 1949 Cecil B. DeMille portrayal of Samson as a man with the physique of a bodybuilder. Isn’t that what you perceive when you hear of his great feats of superhuman strength? And yet, the mystery to be solved throughout our study text is, “What is the secret of Samson’s great strength?” If he looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lou Ferrigno, there wouldn’t be a secret, right?

The secret to Samson’s strength was profoundly this: his dependence upon the Lord and His Spirit. His strength was solely from God’s Spirit that He manifested in a physical fashion. But the world honors and exalts the self-made person, the independent creature, the one who made it to the top with great strength and resolve. But God honors complete dependence upon Him and His strength.

God has a lesson for us all to learn. Twelve chapters of the Book of Judges are devoted to thirteen Judges but four chapters are devoted to just one Judge, Samson. At the 2001 National Youth Gathering in New Orleans, I was confronted with a life-changing truth. A crippled young woman named Gianna Jessen (a pro-life speaker who survived a chemical abortion) slowly and awkwardly made her way from the edge of the stage to the center. She struggled mightily with every step. And then she spoke:  “Do you think I’m handicapped? As I made my way to the microphone, I needed to ask God for help and strength to take the next step. I do that every day all day. How many of you have taken thousands of steps without ever seeking out God, praying or depending upon His strength and care? If that’s you, then you are truly handicapped.”  

That was me. I was handicapped by my own self-reliance. I considered myself strong, a self-starter, healthy, and independent. I was okay! I needed nothing. However, John the Baptist, whom Jesus confessed to be great, said: “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

How’s your dependence upon God? Even though the Philistines and Delilah could not discover the secret to Samson’s strength, with pinpoint precision they discovered his weakness. Sin. Separation from God. Satan will always search out our weakness (our kryptonite = all sin) and there he will attack. It’s the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our sin and leads us to repent.  Samson’s greatest strength was found in his death. In Christ’s life, death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin, our greatest strength as redeemed sinners is found in life with God.

Are you giving up something for Lent?  Consider giving up your self-reliance. We all know the familiar passage, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”   There’s no mystery of the strength for the Christian: apart from Christ, we can and will do nothing (John 15:5) and in Christ, when we are weak, then we are strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

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