The beauty of the Bible, part 2


Christmas was one month ago today. Peaceful Readers, I hope you experienced Jesus this Christmas in a very personal way.

That reminds me of a story.

Before we walked away from my sociopathic in-laws and Brandon’s side of the family, we had a relative named Charles. He was a good guy. Friendly. Peaceful. His mom died on Christmas day. After that, Charles didn’t like Christmas. At all. Years later, his one-and-only daughter was born after many infertility efforts. Guess when she was born? You got it. On Christmas day. His beautiful little girl redeemed the day. Christmas became wonderful again. Actually, we know who redeemed Christmas for Charles, don’t we. God replaced Christmas pain with an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime Christmas blessing. God turned things around.

The impact
In these posts about my 12 favorite Bible stories, I hope you’ll think about the turnarounds—the life-changing impact God has on people as he reaches down and does what only he can do.

Let’s face it. Life is hard. Life without God is especially hard. Be encouraged by these words of Jesus.

“I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you have trouble; but cheer up!
I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33, World English Bible

In part 1 of The Beauty of the Bible, I listed my 12 favorite Bible verses and passages. They were grouped based on common themes. My 12 favorite Bible stories are listed below in the order they occurred, chronologically.

My 12 favorite Bible stories

Joseph  ♦  Samson  ♦  David and Goliath  ♦  God fights for Judah  ♦  Daniel and the lions’ den  ♦  Esther  ♦  Jesus’ birth  ♦  Jesus’ healing (Mark 5)  ♦  Feeding the 5,000  ♦  The last supper  ♦  The resurrection   ♦  The road to Emmaus

I have no idea how my 12 favorite Bible stories will flow out. I’ll just take it one post at a time. Let’s start with one of my Old Testament favorites.


Judges 13 thru 16

Samson was our son Logan’s favorite Bible character growing up. I understand why. Samson was the real-life super-hero.

As I was reading the story of Samson again, the Holy Spirit highlighted certain truths—certain verses—in my mind.

Whether we’re reading a Bible story or living our own lives,
we can get distracted by the drama and miss The Big Picture.

Most people are familiar with the story of Samson and Delilah—the final chapter of Samson’s life. I’m going to focus on Samson’s purpose and his wife—the early chapters.

The back story
What was going on before Samson was born?

The children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
Judges 13:1, New Heart English Bible

The sins of the nation vastly impacted Samson’s life—the timing and circumstances of his birth, and God’s plans for his life.

Your back story
How have the sins of your nation impacted your life?

How would yours truly—Frankie Ann—answer that question? The occult. Abortion. Etcetera.

Right time—right place
Samson was created and chosen for the right time and the right place. And so were you. (That reminds me of one of my 12 favorite Bible verses from the last post, Esther 4:14b.)

The birth announcement and the plan
An angel appeared to Samson’s mother, who was barren.

“For look, you shall conceive, and bear a son; and no razor will come on his head; for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb. And he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”
Judges 13:5, New Heart English Bible

God’s plan for Samson’s life was known—and announced—before Samson was conceived.

And he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

He shall begin….

Blessings and direction

The woman bore a son, and named him Samson. And the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to direct him….
Judges 13:24-25a, New Heart English Bible

What do we know so far? Samson was a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. The three Nazirite requirements were: (1) Don’t cut your hair; (2) don’t drink wine or liquor and don’t eat grapes or anything made from grapes; and (3) don’t go near a dead body.

What else do we know about Samson? God made big plans for Samson’s life. The Lord blessed him and the Spirit of the Lord began to direct his steps.

Samson’s wife

And Samson… saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines, and she was right in his eyes.
Judges 14:1, New Heart English Bible

Samson told his parents to get this woman as his wife. They didn’t understand why he didn’t choose a wife from among their own people.

But his father and his mother did not know that it was of the LORD, for he sought for an opportunity against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines had rule over Israel.
Judges 14:4, New Heart English Bible

The plan
Who, exactly, was looking “for an opportunity against the Philistines”—to strike at the pagans who were ruling over Israel? God Almighty. Read the verse above—Judges 14:4—a second time. Remember, the Life Plan or purpose for Samson was to begin the deliverance of the Israelites from the Philistines.

The detour and the lion
Samson and his parents walked to Timnah to visit with the woman Samson wanted for his wife. While they were walking, Samson took a detour through a vineyard. Some people get all riled up about that part because Samson was a Nazirite and wasn’t supposed to drink wine or eat grapes. Calm down, peeps. The Bible doesn’t tell us that Samson ate anything in the vineyard—nor that he sat down for some bougie, impromptu wine tasting with the owners.

This is what we do know. “And the Spirit of the Lord began to direct him…” (Judges 13:25a, NHEB).

What happened during Samson’s detour?

…a young lion roared against him.

And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he tore him as he would have torn a young goat. And he had nothing in his hand, but he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.
Judges 14:5c-6, New Heart English Bible

And the Spirit of the Lord—the Holy Spirit—rushed upon him. Samson was filled with the power of God. In the vineyard. Booyah.

The one
Right after Samson killed the lion, “He went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson’s eyes” (Judges 14:7, NHEB).

She was The One.

And this was from the Lord. [Judges 14:4a]

Bees and honey
Some days later, as Samson was walking to his wedding, he wandered past the lion he’d killed. The carcass was filled with bees and honey. Samson scraped out the honey and ate it as he walked. He shared some of the honey with his parents, but he didn’t tell them where he got it.

Freak not. I know Samson wasn’t supposed to go near a dead body—human or animal. That was one of the Nazirite requirements.

Thankfully, perfection is not required
to fulfill God’s plans for your life.
I hope that encourages you today.

We’ll dig into that more next time. Personally, some of my biggest screw-ups and/or my most questionable decisions led to my salvation, my remarkable—and complete—healing and my most noteworthy and positive impact on others. Go figure.

Back to Samson. He found The One. He killed the lion. And he ate the honey.

The wedding feast, the riddle and the death threat
For their wedding feast, 30 Philistine men were brought to be Samson’s companions.

Samson said to them, “Let me now put forth a riddle to you. If you can explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, and figure it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing. But if you can’t explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing.” And they said to him, “Propose your riddle, we want to hear it.” He said to them,

“Out of the eater came forth food.
Out of the strong came forth sweetness.”

They couldn’t in three days declare the riddle.

And it happened on the fourth day, that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, that he may tell us the riddle, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Did you invite us here to impoverish us?”
Judges 14:12-15, New Heart English Bible

For the seven days of their wedding feast, Samson’s wife bawled, poured on the drama and begged him to tell her the answer to the riddle. We understand that. She valued her life. Even before the overt death threat on Day 4, she knew Samson’s riddle meant big trouble. Finally, on the seventh day, Samson told his wife the meaning of the riddle, which she promptly told to her people. The men told Samson the meaning of the riddle, and he was livid.

The aftermath
What came next?

The Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and struck thirty men of them, and took their belongings, and gave their garments to those who explained the riddle. His anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.
Judges 14:19, New Heart English Bible

The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him. Filled with the power of God, Samson killed 30 Philistine men.

Remember his purpose.

And he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

He shall begin….

Unbeknownst to Samson, his father-in-law gave his wife to his best man—to his friend.

The foxes and the murder
When Samson found out that his wife had been given to his friend, he caught 300 foxes, tied their tails together in pairs, put a torch between each pair of tails and set them loose to burn down the Philistine crops—grain, vineyards and olive groves. He hit them hard.

In retaliation, the Philistines murdered Samson’s wife and her father—burning them to death.

Samson avenged his wife’s murder by killing many of the Philistines.

The jawbone
In response, the Philistines came up to Judah and raided the area called Lehi. Samson’s people gave him over to the Philistines, bound in ropes.

When [Samson] came to Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they met him: and the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands dropped from off his hands. And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and reached down and took it, and struck a thousand men with it.
Judges 15:14-15, New Heart English Bible

In case you’re wondering, Samson didn’t just beat up 1,000 men. He killed them.

Remember his purpose.

And he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

He shall begin….

Let’s recap Samson’s life so far with an emphasis on his purpose.

Samson’s purpose—to begin his people’s deliverance from the Philistines—was announced by an angel to his mother before he was conceived. He was created to be a remarkable warrior, empowered by God Almighty.

Samson chose a wife from among his enemies, the Philistines. The Bible tells us clearly that this was from the Lord. It was God’s purpose for Samson—and for the people of Israel.

The highlight reel and the purpose
Samson’s highlight reel so far looks like a larger-than-life action movie—and we haven’t even gotten to The Thrilling Ending yet.

It’s easy for us to view Samson as a hot-head or a blood-thirsty lunatic. But here’s the thing. He had a vital purpose—to begin delivering his people from their enemies. So conflict was at the core of Samson’s God-given purpose. God created Samson to be an incredible warrior, not a placid pencil-pusher. He was created to be on fire and to accomplish God’s purpose for his life—and for the nation of Israel. And. He. Did. We’ll dig into that more next time.

My purpose
It’s not always easy to fulfill God’s plan for your life. If God had asked me when I was young—“Frankie Ann, would you like to become an expert on grieving, forgiving and healing from trauma?”—I would have replied, vehemently, “No!” Translation: “Would you like to experience lots of trauma and loss, including mentally ill, evil and dangerous people on both sides of your family, so you can eventually experience healing and teach other people how to experience healing too?” Uhhhh. Definitely not. Or this: “Would you like to grow up in a house filled with lies, and work in a dangerous, high-stress job—Boot Camp—so you can become an avid truth-seeker and a courageous truth-speaker?” No, thanks. I’d rather not.

But here’s the thing. As I look back on my life, I love my life. I love what God has done. I love what God has taught me. And I love the precious people he’s brought into my life. Now that I’m able to reflect on my life in a Big Picture kind of way, I’m extremely thankful for all of it. Read this post for the strange and beautiful story of my life.

Your turn
What stories would show up in your highlight reel—or in the movie trailer about your life? What is God’s purpose for your life? Do you have no clue, some vague ideas, a general concept or great clarity on that?

Know this. God will reveal everything at the perfect time. Stay tuned in to him. Listen. And pray a lot. For more on prayer, read all six parts of The Prayer.

God gave me the song below after I finished writing this post. I’d never heard it before. The video shows people giving books to each other. I love that analogy. It’s about sharing our stories with each other. When the Holy Spirit encourages you to share some of your story with someone, will you?

Be strong and courageous….
Deuteronomy 31:6a, NHEB

Coming next: We’ll dig more into the story of Samson. Get ready to see The Big Picture of Samson’s life using the word because. You’ll also read about a prostitute, the city gates and the beginning of the end. And a whole lot more.

Until next time, thanks for reading and for Choosing Peace.

Blessed by truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’m deeply blessed by God’s word and music. I hope the scripture and song that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.

Truth from The Word: Proverbs 19:21

Song: “My Story Your Glory” by Matthew West

4 thoughts on “The beauty of the Bible, part 2”

  1. You continually amaze me with the clarity of your wisdom and grace in helping
    us to truly understand God’s word.

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at Samson’s story so broken down. Piece by piece. I learned a lot and am excited to read part 2.

    1. Thanks, Melissa! I’m so glad you were blessed. And I’m right with you — very excited about the next part about Samson.

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