“But his father and mother said to him, ‘Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to the uncircumcised Philistines?’ But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes’” Judges 14:3. His poor parents! Though they raised Samson as God told them to do, the young man was rebellious and insolent. No one could tell him what to do. Seeing a foreign woman, he lusted and then demanded his father get her for him. His decision was not based on what would please God or his parents—but only himself. His attitude was a mark of this whole time period as the book of Judges ends with “everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” and it would characterize Samson all of his days. How this sounds like the culture we live in today and so many we’re surrounded by! But God had a plan to use a selfish, immoral person like Samson to seek an opportunity against the Philistines. This is the same tactic that God used at the cross when His Son was “killed by the hands of lawless men” Acts 2:23. And He can use the wickedness of a world that does whatever is right in its own eyes to help His people today.
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4. We tend to measure ourselves by the yardstick of the world—or in the case of Goliath the cubit-stick? The world’s champion was six cubits and a span or over nine feet tall and a warrior since birth. No one in the Israelite army could measure up. Neither could Israel’s giant, King Saul, who stood a head taller than others. Saul, though, had left God, and so God had left him. This psalm of David gives us God’s measuring tape. For God to “act” and for Him to “bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday,” you must “trust in the LORD and do good,” “dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness,” “delight yourself” in Him, and “commit your way” to Him. This is what David did. Rather than trembling in fear as the army did, he dwelt in the land and befriended faithfulness by standing his ground against such a formidable challenge. Rather than trusting in what he could see and delighting himself in, er … himself as Saul did, David committed his way to defend the LORD’s name, whom Goliath had defied. And God gave him the desires of his heart. In whom do you delight?
“So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas had made while she was with them” Acts 9:39. What wasn’t remarkable was that the Holy Spirit would work through Peter to heal a paralyzed man who had been bedridden for eight years. He had already done something that amazing with a man “lame since birth” in Acts 3. Even Peter’s shadow seemed to heal (Acts 5:15). Nor was it remarkable that Peter would raise Tabitha from the dead. Many gifts were given to Jesus' followers in the early first century to testify to the gospel (Hebrews 2:3-4). No, it’s that believers spoke more of Dorcas’ earthly accomplishments rather than the hope she had in the resurrection. Jesus didn’t do this. While consoling Martha in the death of her brother, He spoke only of the life to come for one who died in the Lord. What was Lazarus’ occupation or hobbies? Jesus gave her hope before he raised him up. And that’s what we who know hope must do for a world that has no hope—we turn their focus to things eternal. They forgot her crafts when she was presented alive.
“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of the Lord” Acts 9:27. Saul had a problem … and he had no one to blame but himself. The last time he had been in Jerusalem, he had been a radical, up-and-coming student of Gamaliel who was eager to make a name for himself. When Jesus’ disciple, Stephan, was stoned, the cloaks of the executioners were laid at his feet while he gave approval to his death. Then, he was instrumental in the “great persecution” and ravaged the church from house to house. And he had left town with letters from the high priest to do the same in Damascus. That was when he met Jesus and eventually became a disciple himself, as powerful a force for God’s kingdom as he had been against it … but no one in Jerusalem knew this. So, it’s understandable that the Christians there “were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.” It took the one nicknamed “the son of encouragement” to show Christ’s love by introducing him to the ones he had tried to destroy. In this world, be a Barnabas.
“Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes” Psalm 36:1. Evil is certainly loud … and flashy! And it abounds! Just turn on your TV or check what’s trending on social media and you would conclude that there’s not much that godly people can do in the face of such reckless hate. Has God lost? Are we truly alone? No, when Elijah felt this way after the wicked queen Jezebel threatened his life, God reassured him that He had reserved 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. So, where were they? Scattered throughout Israel. Evil in Elijah’s day, as in David’s, had grown so prevalent that the prophet seemed like an island in a sea of wickedness. And the waves were rough. Sounds like a Christian today. But God also wanted to show Elijah that He was stronger and still in control. Calling him to stand on the mountain while a great wind, earthquake, and fire tore the world apart around him, God showed Elijah that the world, for all its bluster and darkness, was nothing compared to the low whisper. Because of the powerful presence that Elijah felt in that, he covered his face. David concludes this also: “In Your light we see light.”