Title: Judges 15. Samson part 7 - The battle of Lehi.
JDG 15:11 Then 3,000 men of Judah [respect for the reputation that Samson already has] went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?" And he said to them, "As they did to me, so I have done to them."
Judah should be fighting Philistia as those who are separated unto God - as Samson. How sadly they have declined since their beginning under Caleb.
The irony is that they could have sent this army against Philistia. Why not ask this man of incredible strength, raised up by God, to be the leader of this army?
The most effective decline in a person's life is a slow one, since it is barely noticeable. It is usually after someone has become very weak spiritually that a circumstance reveals its depth, and upon opening their eyes to its reality, they ask, "What has happened to me?"
Centuries of idol worship has done this to Israel. This is the first cycle in Judges that they don't cry out to the Lord to be delivered. They have grown used to their weakness and have accepted it.
Do not let the KOD make you steadily weaker through small and more frequent deceptions. No matter what, the Lord must always be our #1 priority.
It happened to the Corinthians and the Galatians in the NT.
Sudden prosperity can also be a trigger to a slow decline as the believer becomes absorbed with the material blessing and forgets the Giver.
If a believer is suddenly given much material blessing or is quickly promoted, whether on a job or to a new home, or is blessed with children or marriage, he must immediately be alert to the roaring lion seeking someone to devour. It is easy to fill the eyes of our heart with new things, when our eye should be singular, and when it is fixed upon Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith, then our whole body will be full of light.
Instead of recognizing in Samson a deliverer whom the Lord had raised up for them, and crowding round him that they might smite their oppressors with his help and drive them out of the land, the men of Judah were so degraded, that they cast this reproach at Samson - "Look what you have done to us."
What has he done to them? By his actions he has brought the Philistines into conflict with Judah. Judah should have been fighting them and not cowering under them. Their weakness is also great blindness.
JDG 15:12 And they said to him, "We have come down to bind you so that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines." And Samson said to them, "Swear to me that you will not kill me."
It would seem that two things are involved in the request not to kill him. He did not want to shed Jewish blood since he would have defended himself, and he wants to be led right into the midst of the Philistines so he can end the conflict.
JDG 15:13 So they said to him, "No, but we will bind you fast and give you into their hands; yet surely we will not kill you." Then they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.
New ropes - at their strongest. Samson could easily break them if the Spirit came upon him, but the Spirit will wait until the enemy is within his reach.
Knowing of his strength, they would have bound him very well. But they could have bound him with a hundred ropes and it wouldn't have mattered because the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.
JDG 15:14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they met him. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily so that the ropes that were on his arms were as flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds dropped from his hands.
The Philistines had good reason to shout. He was bound and they didn't have to do it. Who knows how many of them he would have killed. Plus, Samson's own people were handing him over, which openly shows just how much power they have over Israel.
When the cords fell from his hands, the rejoicing of the Philistines must have turned to shear panic and they fled.
JDG 15:15 And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, so he reached out and took it and killed a thousand men with it.
Fresh jawbone: heavy and tough as opposed to dried out and brittle. Touching it is another violation of the Nazirite vow.
Some rabbis actually claim that this is the jawbone of Balaam's donkey, which would make it centuries old.
JDG 15:16 Then Samson said,
"With the jawbone of a donkey,
Heaps upon heaps,
With the jawbone of a donkey
I have killed a thousand men."
Samson's song is a play on words in Hebrew. Both donkey and heap are based on the word chamor.
With the jawbone of a chamor
Chamor upon chamor (donkeys upon donkeys)
With the jawbone of a chamor
I have slain a thousand men.
He had killed them and made piles out of them, and in his song he is insinuating by his word play that he made donkeys out of them. Heaps and heaps suggests that this did not take place in only one battle, but in several.
It is unmistakable to the Philistines and to the tribe of Judah that Yavah was the true warrior in Samson. Would that this obvious truth was mixed with faith in the witnesses.
JDG 15:17 And it came about when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand; and he named that place Ramath-lehi.
Ramath-lehi = "the hill of the jawbone." Referring to either the piles of men or that geographically there was a hill.
JDG 15:18 Then he became very thirsty, and he called to the Lord and said, "Thou hast given this great deliverance by the hand of Thy servant, and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?"
By calling himself God's servant, Samson shows that he did understand his calling. His problem was a lack of faithfulness to that calling.
Before the battles were over, Samson grew extremely dehydrated. It would seem that this was a test from God, for if God the Holy Spirit can give him superhuman strength then the Spirit can also enable him to continue in that strength without water. Samson passes the test. He shows that he understands the source of his strength, but the problem is that he will not continue to see that truth. His lack of faithfulness is his downfall. God answers his call and much like He did for Moses and Israel, God brings water from a rock.
JDG 15:19 But God split the hollow place that is in Lehi so that water came out of it. When he drank, his strength returned and he revived. Therefore, he named it En-hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day.
"hollow place" - maktesh = a round, deep basin. Water may have been trapped in the layers of limestone and God brought it forth.
JDG 15:20 So he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.
His judgeship was during the Philistine oppression from 1080 - 1060 B.C.
There are three things that jump out in the narrative of the battle of Lehi. First is that the Holy Spirit can overcome any hindrance. Samson was bound with two new ropes and they became like flax. Secondly, we see that a calling from God cannot be pursued part time. Samson understood that he was God's servant and that God was the source of his strength as well as the satisfier of his thirst. But that faith didn't last. It was temporary and fleeting. The calling of God on each of our lives must be pursued with the utmost effort. Third, God will always provide our needs. Samson needed water and God knows where the water is. Whatever your needs are, God knows where they are and how to get them to you. Follow Him and not your own understanding.