NOTE: I had a lot to say about this reading.
Judges 13: Now we get to the Israelites again doing bad things. Dang, you’d think they learn from their mistakes. Although when I said that to a friend of mine, he said it kinda reminds him of society now. I’m not going to go there today, but that’s an interesting perspective. I digress. This time the Israelites are ruled for 40 years by the Philistines.
Now we get to the story of Samson from the Danite tribe. His mother, who couldn’t conceive, was told she was pregnant by God’s messenger. The messenger tells her he will be a nazarite (reminder: this means an Israelite who is consecrated to the service of God). After further discussion with God’s messenger (the parents asked for guidance on how to raise the boy), Samson is born.
Judges 14: Samson married a Philistine woman (from Timnah) in this chapter. At first his parents were hesitant with Samson’s desire to marry this woman. The text indicates that they “didn’t know that the Lord was behind this. He was looking for an opening with the Philistines, because they were ruling over Israel at that time” (CEB Study Bible; Judges 14.4). Pretty tricky!!
On his way back to Timnah, Samson kills an attacking lion with his bare hands (with God’s help). He eventually marries the woman and on one of his trips back to Timnah he noticed a swarm of bees with honey in the lion’s skeleton. He eats the honey and gives some to his family.
Next is this story about how Samson challenges the people to a riddle. If they solve it in seven days, he has to give them 30 linen robes and 30 sets of clothes. If they don’t solve it, then they have to give him the same amount. They can’t solve it, so they get his wife to seduce him. He finally relents, they share the solution, he kills 30 Philistines from another town and gives their clothes to the people, then leaves his wife in disgust. She ends up marrying someone else.
I gotta be honest, I don’t entirely get the point of this riddle story. I guess it is setting up the start of his campaign against the Philistines.
Judges 15: Samson returns at a later date expecting to reunite with his wife. Her father says he thought Samson was gone forever, so he gave her to one of his companions. The father offers up his younger daughter, but Samson gets angry and says that he is now allowed to “bring down trouble on the Philistines” (CEB Study Bible; Judges 15.3). So clearly a situation is being set up to get Samson to lead the defeat of the Philistines.
First, he ties foxes tails together, puts a torch between their tails, and sets them loose in their grain fields, destroying everything. The people in turn burned his wife and her father to death. Next, Samson retaliates by striking the people severely. He flees to a cave in Etam. The Philistines respond by attacking Lehi in Judah. The Philistines tell them they are being attacked because of Samson. The people from Judah travel to Samson and take him prisoner, but promise not to harm him. This leads to the next skirmish. This time when Samson is presented to the Philistines, his ropes are removed by the Lord’s spirit and Samson kills 1000 men with a donkey’s jawbone. Samson then complains about being thirsty, so God makes water emerge from a rock and he regains his strength. Samson rules for 20 years after this.
Samson was one powerful guy. It’s interesting that in his little song about his victory he doesn’t reference God.
1 Corinthians 7: Chapter starts with sex again, but this time in a marriage. Here’s what Paul tells the people:
“The husband should meet his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should do the same for her husband. The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Don’t refuse to meet each other’s needs unless you both agree for a short period of time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come back together again so that Satan might not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I’m saying this to give you permission; it’s not a command.” (1 Cor. 7.3-6)
In other words, if you’re married, you gotta meet each other’s sexual needs. This reminds me of something I read several years ago where an evangelical minister and his wife challenged married couples to have sex every night for a week. And not just for the act of sex, but for the intimacy. Now I see where this may have come from.
He tells single people and widows to remain single like him unless they can’t control themselves sexually. Then they should get married. He also addresses what happens when a believer marries a non-believer. And finally, he tells the people to “stay in the situation they were in when they were called” by God (1 Cor. 7.20). A lot of examples are given.
Based on some notes from the NRSV study bible, it seems like these topics were addressed because the people directly asked Paul about these topics. Well, if you gotta ask something important, might as well ask the question.