Day 18

Samson’s Revenge

from the Judges reading plan


Judges 15:1-20, Psalm 106:40-48, Isaiah 40:27-31

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Judges 15:1-20, Psalm 106:40-48, Isaiah 40:27-31

Goodness, things just keep getting worse.

Reading Samson’s life story feels like watching a particularly dark television series. Death and destruction follow him everywhere he goes. In Judges 15, Samson sets fire to the tails of 300 foxes and sets the Philistines’ farmland and vineyards ablaze. His wife and father-in-law are burned to death in a gruesome retaliation. Men are ripped limb from limb. And when it’s all said and done, Samson, infused with the Spirit of the Lord, single-handedly kills 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:16).

What in the world is going on here?

It’s important to remember that in the midst of this bloody, heartbreaking story, God is still present, and that He has endowed Samson with great strength and fervor in order to free the Israelites from the Philistines. It’s also important to remember that redemption is never clean and simple. It is a bloody business. Samson is caught in a web of back-and-forth retaliation, and he knows in his heart that in the end, it is his job to rid the Israelites of their oppressors.

When the Israelites find Samson hiding out in a cave, they do not join him to fight the way the Israelites have done in the past. No, they bind him and hand him over to the enemy. They cower. They see his strength, but they do not see him as a savior. Instead of recognizing Samson as a deliverer, they hand him over to the Philistines, bound and ready for death. But Samson inflicts justice on the Philistines through this small, weak weapon: the jawbone of a donkey. It is an unexpected, bloody redemption.

Does this story sound familiar at all?

Many years after the time of the judges, God sent the Israelites a Savior who is one with God and full of the Spirit (John 1:1–18; Luke 3:21–22). Rather than recognize His strength, the Israelites handed Jesus over to their oppressors and Pontius Pilate to be crucified.

But this time—this final time—the blood that was shed was not of the enemy. God turned the story on its head. Rather than kill off the Romans, Jesus went to the cross willingly to shed His own blood for us. It is an unexpected, bloody redemption.

Thanks be to God for saving us from ourselves, our sin, and the schemes of the enemy. May we give thanks to His holy name, and rejoice in praising Him (Psalm 106:47).

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Claire Gibson is a writer whose work has been featured in publications including The Washington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine among many others. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Patrick, their son, Sam, and their dog, Winnie. Her debut novel, Beyond the Point, will be published next year.

Post Comments (58)

58 thoughts on "Samson’s Revenge"

  1. Alex Weikel says:

    I never thought that God was okay with revenge….but idk now

    1. Lizzieb85 says:

      Romans 12:19
      Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

      Deuteronomy 32:35
      It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”

      1. Michelle Martinez says:

        Love these two verses….they are verses I keep close to me in the times the thoughts of seeking my own revenge appear for the hurt I have endured.

    2. Maggie Tietz says:

      God is just. Yet he tells us over & over to pray for our enemies and not seek revenge (See Romans 12:14-21). I think the takeaway here is trusting that those who do harm against us will receive justice. Unless they receive the gift of undeserving grace & forgiveness from Jesus (justice served through His death on a Cross), God will be their ultimate judge.

    3. Anna Damiano says:

      “‘Vengeance is mine,’ says the Lord.” Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:17

      God is the only one who can judge what anyone deserves. He has used people to avenge Himself against other people on His express command. If you read Romans 12:17-19, though, you’ll see that that is not the attitude we’re supposed to have.

      Sometimes God uses the evil intentions and evil actions of people to accomplish his will. For instance, He hardened Pharaoh’s heart when it was time for the Israelites to leave Egypt to accomplish a great victory for Israel. If Pharaoh had just let them leave, there would have been no justice against all of the Egyptians who had been oppressing them, and the Israelites would not have had everything they needed to make the journey to the land God had promised them. They also would never have had the Passover, and the important picture of God’s redemption.

      So even though the Philistines and Sampson both have selfish intentions and evil methods, God allows them i destroy each other for the sake of Israel’s freedom and justice against the Philistines (and Sampson in the end).

      Hope that helps!

      1. Michelle Martinez says:

        Thank you this sheds a light to the thoughts of me thinking that it was God’s Justice On me for the mental abuse. I couldn’t understand why he would allow it to happen and for as long as it was.

      2. Josephine says:

        Thank you Anna, as I was reading your comment my sprit was agreeing in relief! I was searching for an explanation that resonated with me as truth and helped to shed light on this passage as still part of God’s narrative– it is a hard passage to read and on the surface makes little sense, but there is always deeper meaning and God’s character remains the same, he does not change like shifting shadows. Thanks for your thoughts!

    4. Haylee says:

      We have two choices; let God seek vengeance on my behalf or ask God to “drop the charges”.
      Romans 12:19
      Luke 18:7-8
      Deuteronomy 32:35 & 43
      -but-
      1 Peter 2:9
      Numbers 12:13
      Acts 7:59-60

      1. Ruth Lund says:

        Love this reply Hayley. ’Drop the charges’ hits the nail on the head somehow.

      2. Ruth Lund says:

        Sorry, Haylee!

      3. a says:

        I love this response too! “drop the charges!”
        God not only dropped the charges, he paid the price for me!

    5. Michelle Bonaime says:

      I know. This is kind of confusing, but I think the Bible twists the word revenge to fit their needs. Revenge becomes “justice”. We also see this is TV shows; a family member is killed, and someone says, “I need justice” and then goes to kill the murderer. But I think Gods justice is more based in equality; “an eye for an eye” so that everyone remains equal; with the “moral” of the story being treat others how you want to be treated.

  2. Churchmouse says:

    “I have done to them what they did to me.” Samson’s revenge resulted in the destruction of the Philistine harvest, the horrible deaths of his wife and father in law, a Philistine raid of Lehi instilling great fear in the tribe of Judah, not to mention the burning of 300 foxes. Revenge by one affects so many more. Are we not tempted also to take matters into our own hands? Do we not want to do unto them as they have done unto us? Is there not a part of us that rationalizes our idea of exacting our own justice? I sit here with my hand raised, acknowledging that in my current situation that is how I have felt and thought. Praise God I haven’t gone looking for three hundred foxes. But I have had to repent and seek the full counsel of God : “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” I must, in obedience, leave the matter to Him. He sees my circumstance with the clearest eyes and His purpose will be accomplished. I am to trust and obey. Do the next right thing. Samson was God’s chosen judge of Israel during the days of the Philistines and God used him in that day to accomplish His purpose . I struggle with Samson being so vengeful. I know God is telling me in my situation to be still and know that He is God. There is peace in that I know I don’t need a jawbone of a donkey to have victory. I have the Lord my God who gives me a peace that passes all understanding. This peace is victory. I thank Him for it.

    1. charlie woodruff says:

      Amen!

    2. Mari V says:

      Continuing to pray for you Churchmouse.

      1. Tori Fuller says:

        Amen. I thank God for those being still moments as well . I know if I sought our revenge as my inner sinful self would want to, it would not be holy nor of God. So praise God that we can go to him and repent. Continuing to pray for you Churhmouse

      2. DebRN says:

        Me too. Godly thinking, Churchmouse. You can depend on it!

    3. Bessie says:

      I have been licking my wounds after a friend hurt me. I haven’t been wishing revenge as much as withdrawing and having a pity party. Your words have inspired me to get up and get going again. I need to get over my bad self and focus on what God has for me to do today. Thank you for encouraging me to seek God’s peace and the victory in that.

    4. Michelle Martinez says:

      Such encouraging words….thank you!

  3. Janna Jackson says:

    Samson knew that he was special and that his responsibility was to deliver the Israelites, yet he was half in. He kept trying to seek his own desires, e.g. finding wives from the Philistines (which he knew were off limits) while trying to deliver his people. He was only half committed and that never works. I am sure there are areas in my life that I have only partly surrendered to the Lord. I won’t have victory in those areas until I am all in.

    1. charlie woodruff says:

      Half in! That perfectly describes Samson…..and me. God didn’t send me to free the Israelites but he has placed me in this place and time to free those around me. I think Samson had a huge issue with anger and feeling like he was being taken advantage of and not appreciated for who God had called him to be- problem is Samson deviated from God’s instructions (he sinned over and over again)

    2. charlie woodruff says:

      I wonder if Samson interpreted his sin and anger as righteousness? He had a chip on his shoulder figuratively and it was of his own making. How true this rings with me today. The fact that God took this absolutely horrible, destructive, and broken man and despite Samson’s despicable character flaws, God brought beauty from the ashes. I pray that I will recognize my own character flaws and sin that lead to destruction. I pray for forgiveness and ask for mercy and grace to be who I was created to be. I pray that I don’t leave a path of destruction trying to accomplish God’s will in my own strength.

      1. Kay says:

        Charlie, thank you for sharing. I feel your words are so on point for me right now. I am in a transition period of my life and I truly need to step back and reflect on who God made me to be…address my character flaws(there are many) and sin that leads to a path of destruction, for me or others…I pray that I will clearly see God’s path and will for my life.

      2. Barbi Gardiner says:

        Thank you for sharing something so personal Charlie. I am drawn to your plight and can also recognize that struggle within myself. I have been praying of late that God lead me to be the person he wants me to be…

    3. Brigetta R says:

      I like how you described that he was half in! I feel his pride was his greatest downfall, because it fed everything else…my husband and I are doing this study together, and I’ll make a note to mention this. Thank you!

    4. Natasha Reyes says:

      Ooof, Janna and Charlie, you both got me here! Half in! I think that could be me. I now ask myself, could I just be splashing around in the shallow end instead of jumping right into God’s calling for me? And Samson’s righteous anger- I get that way sometimes. I see injustice and this rage just rises inside me. I need to remember that even if I think it’s justified, anger leads to sin. Thank you for the amazing insights, ladies.

  4. Kristen says:

    I just did the Seamless Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministry. Angie Smith’s book shows how the Bible is one Seamless story. Every book points to Jesus. It’s a great study to do, and you can buy the book at the store or online. Let’s not forget what Claire said! Redemption is bloody business. A sacrifice had to be made to stone for the sins of the people. Jesus became the Ultimate Sacrifice by spilling His Blood! Like the song says, “We’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.” Let’s not forget the bodily pain, but even worse, the mental anguish He suffered. He bore EVERY SIN! I imagine Him seeing and feeling each sin from gossip to murder and more! He willing gave us all, we need to be grateful and praise Him each day! Help me to live with a grateful heart and a life pleasing and representing You Dear God! https://youtu.be/c4Jfz7HsQ_A

  5. Kelly Chataine says:

    My friend and fellow teacher passed yesterday but I do not mourn as those that do not have hope. Praise God she is whole again and without pain!
    I pray for, and ask you to pray for her, husband and three daughters. Two of their daughters are in high school and the other turned 2 in May.
    Love you my sisters!

    1. Erica Chiarelli says:

      Praying for her family!! <3

    2. Sarah OliverWarburton says:

      Praying for them Kelly.

    3. Rg says:

      Praying …

    4. Churchmouse says:

      Praying for the family and grateful that you are there to be a source of comfort to them

      1. Tori Fuller says:

        Praying for the family and even for your strength Kelly. May God be comfort to you all during this time.

    5. Natasha Reyes says:

      Praying!

  6. Chelsie Abra says:

    Anyone else not getting the check marks beside the passages that they’ve read over the past few days? Seems like a glitch in the readings.

    1. Liz Tardo says:

      Yes! Happened to me as well

      1. Marcey Thomas says:

        Same here

    2. Andrea Gainous says:

      It happened to me too

    3. She Reads Truth says:

      We appreciate this feedback and will be sure to pass it along to our developers to take a look at. -Margot, The SRT Team

    4. Christine Schultheis says:

      Me as well

    5. Melissa Adair says:

      Yes! It is happening to me too!

    6. Jackie Hays says:

      Yes! I signed out of the app and back in, and that seems to have done the trick.

    7. Jessica Diaz says:

      Yes happening to me too

  7. Lesley says:

    Thanks for some great insights here! I love how you point out the parallels and contrast between Samson and Jesus. I had never noticed that before!

    1. Erica Chiarelli says:

      Same! It’s so good! While Samson is an imperfect comparison, God still used him to redeem His people. Thank God Jesus lived a sinless life so He could be our spotless Lamb, to take away the sins of the world.
      We always are so quick to judge the people of the Bible, forgetting they didn’t have Christ & His redemption yet. We were a mess before & even sometimes after God!

  8. Dorothy says:

    Claire, the author, brings up several very good points I feel. First, “It’s important to remember that in the midst of this bloody, heartbreaking story, God is still present”, this is something I need to remember. I need to remember “God is still present” no matter what. The second point is “He (God) has endowed Samson with great strength and fervor in order to free the Israelites from the Philistines”, I often forget that those in the Bible were human and capable of straying but God did have a reason for certain things to happen and for certain people to noted in the Bible. God has endowed us all with some talent, mine I believe is to help others with great compassion, concern, love and faith hence my being a nurse of 39 years and mother of 33 years. The next point she made really hit home, “It’s also important to remember that redemption is never clean and simple. It is a bloody business.” I have often asked for redemption from Christ but until reading this I never thought about or realized how true Claire’s statement is, it’s “never clean and simple.” Her final point of how God’s final redemption is sending Christ to die on the cross for our sins. This is one redemption I know I will never be able to live up to but I do plan on continuing to ask for forgiveness when I fall, stumble, or misstep. I know also I will never give up.

    1. Kelly Chataine says:

      Thank you for being a nurse. When my husband fell last October, I was blessed by four very different nurses while he was in Surgical Trauma ICU for almost six weeks. These four women were so different concerning their looks and personality but not their mission. My husband was well cared for, and they cared for me at the same time! I still thank God for Kendalyn, Jessica, Gretchen, and Lori. My husbands six weeks in a rehab hospital was also filled with energetic, caring, nurses, nurse techs, therapists, and janitors! When I was struggling one of these people would make a difference, and they probably didn’t know they were making a difference except I told them!
      Thank you, Dorothy, for your service because it makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE!

      1. Dorothy says:

        Kelly it is always nice to hear praise. It is also always nice to hear about others in my profession that not only do a great job care for the patient but also the family because I feel a nurse is there to care for the patient and family no matter what. I hope all is going well with your husband. God bless you both.

    2. Lindsey Bailey says:

      Dorothy, your insights are so helpful. Thank you for sharing. This is a difficult book to wrap my head around.

    3. Natasha Reyes says:

      Thank you Dorothy, I have struggled to gain insights from the devotionals as well. Your comments have given me a lightbulb moment!

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