• Time: 1070 BC
• Place: Land of Israel
• Spirit of the Age: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. —Judges 21:25 NKJV
• Growing Crisis: A group of people known as the Philistines have brought their foreign gods and influence into the land and culture of Israel.
• Person of Interest: In a dark period of Jewish history, a childless couple find themselves in the story of God. An angelic messenger tells them they are going to give birth to a child who will begin to deliver their nation from their enemies. What they find out later is that this son, Samson, has superhuman strength from God but the weak eyes of his times.
We first meet Samson as he walks the road from his hometown of Zorah to the village of Timnah where a Philistine woman catches his eye.
According to the record of the Judges, Samson returns home and tells his parents, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” When his disappointed mother and father ask why he wouldn’t find a wife among his own people, he says, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes” (Judges 14:2-3 ESV).
The marriage doesn’t begin or end well. During the wedding festivities, Samson insults and intimidates 30 of his young Philistine hosts, who eventually kill the bride and her father for getting them involved with Samson.
Seeking revenge, Samson becomes a one-man army. With superhuman strength, he uses the jawbone of a donkey to kill 1,000 Philistines.
Samson becomes the hero of Israel for the next 20 years. But he doesn’t grow in the ways of God. At some point, he goes down to Gaza, sees a prostitute, and spends the night with her. Later he falls in love with another Philistine by the name of Delilah.
Delilah is Samson’s undoing. She pries out of him that the secret of his strength is in the uncut hair that signifies his dedication to God. Then she betrays his trust. As Samson lays sleeping with his head in her lap, she takes a razor to his hair and calls in the Philistines. When they find that the strong man who has terrorized them is no longer a threat, they take out their vengeance by blinding him.
A broken Samson then calls out to God for one last act of strength to avenge his eyes. With heaven’s help, he pulls down a huge pagan temple killing more Philistines in death than during the days of his life.
• Time: AD 30
• Place: Land of Israel
• Spirit of the Age: This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet . . . . Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. —Luke 11:29, 35 NKJV
• Growing Crisis: Israel still remains under the heel of external control and occupation. This time it’s the Roman Empire. Yet the Jewish people remain unaware that the real enemy lies within.
• Person of Interest: Once again an angelic messenger announces the birth of a son. His name is to be called Jesus, and His first concern is to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).
Instead of leading a revolt to kill Roman soldiers, Jesus confronts the eyes and hearts of Israel’s religious leaders. According to Him, they are the real oppressors of God’s people. They have eyes only for themselves and their own interests (Luke 7:31-35).
Jesus shows how differently He sees Israel’s problems. As He sits at the table of a local religious leader, a woman with a reputation for being a public sinner bursts into the room. Standing behind Jesus, she begins to cry. Then she falls down and begins washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair.
The Pharisee watches in disgust and disbelief that a prophet would let a sinner touch Him. Jesus shows no shame. Instead, He tenderly assures the woman that her sins are forgiven. Then He honors the woman by telling a story that shows how those who know they have been forgiven much love much (Luke 7:36-50).
This isn’t the last time Jesus looks at a woman in a way unlike the rest of His generation. After His death and resurrection, the first person He shows Himself to is Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons (Mark 16:9). Though Jewish women were not respected enough to give witness in a court of law, Jesus honors Mary by sending her back to His followers with the first news of His resurrection (John 20:11-18).
Who would have thought that by looking at women differently than Samson and other men did, Jesus would show that He has His Father’s eyes?
Father in heaven, we remember that Samson’s last prayer was for the strength to avenge his eyes. Thank You for the Son who, with eyes wide open, looked on those who had nailed Him to a cross and said to You, with us in mind, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” —Mart DeHaan