What does it say?
In the final chapter of his life (Jud 16), Samson visits a prostitute in Gaza and then escapes in his God-given power when his enemies discover him. From there, Samson goes to Valley of Sorek and falls in love with a woman named Delilah that is manipulated by the Philistines to draw out of Samson the secret of his strength. Blinded and bound, Samson ends his life by pulling down the Philistine temple upon himself and his enemies.
An Ephraimite named Micah introduces image worship into Israel as he fashions silver idols, consecrates his own son as priest and, in essence, invents a religion (Jud 17). When a Levite passes through, Micah determines that he would give more prestige to his new religion and hires him as priest to replace his son. Philistine oppression in the south forces the large tribe of Dan northward (Jud 18). Migrating Danites stumble across Micah and his idols, make the Levite a better offer, confiscate the idols and firmly plant the idolatry virus that will plague Israel until the days of the captivity.
What does it mean?
The tragic end of Samson’s life reminds us that being used of God in no way implies spiritual depth or purity. God will accomplish his mission even with very imperfect individuals.
Judges has taken a turn from describing the increasing apostasy under the judges, to show the nation plunging headlong into anarchy and chaos. This moral and spiritual collapse is the focus of the final chapters of the book. Micah’s do-it-yourself religion is absurd for a people who had received God’s direct revelation at the hands of Moses not that many generations previously. Even more absurd is the thought that one’s religion could be stolen and priests sold to the highest bidders. Don’t fail to notice the statement repeated in 17:6; 18:1; 19:1 and again in 21:25 at the end. This is the message of these last chapters and, in a sense, of the entire book.
How will I respond?
Western Civilization has largely abandoned the concept of absolute truth, opting instead to create our personalized ideas of God and religion much like Micah. How has this trend affected me? Can I defend my faith in understandable, rational and relevant terms on the basis of God’s absolute truth? What resources are available to help me grow in my ability to strengthen the foundation of absolute truth in my life to prevent falling prey to being seduced by the spirit of the age?