It’s hard to read the stories of the judges without a good bit of angst. These fellows are supposed to be Israel’s leaders. Influenced by the Spirit of God, we expect them to be spiritual giants, but we are always disappointed in their behavior.
If the influence of the Canaanites is seen in Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter, surely it is seen in Samson’s self-will and unbridled lust.
The story begins with such hope. A barren woman is promised a son who will be special, devoted to the Lord. The Nazirite was one who had taken a vow to the Lord, but the vow was only for a period of time, then it came to an end. Samson, however, was to be devoted to the Lord for life. Like many of us, she and her husband Manoah must have been so proud. And how their pride must have been dashed when Samson, their Nazirite son, fell in love with a Philistine hussy.
As Israel reads these stories, she cannot help but be chagrined at the behavior of her rulers. She needs better than these, but if she is to have better kings, she must be better people. The Church today is sometimes embarrassed by her leaders, but the real embarrassment is not the behavior of the leaders, but the Christian community itself. If the cream that rises to the top is sour, what does it say about the milk from which it comes? If this is the best we have, what does it say about the rest of us?