Strength Through Weakness - Judges 14-16

In the sermon this morning Pastor Josh talked about Samson's choice of his wife was both from the Lord and yet sinful - can you please reconcile the two? I can fully understand the Lord using our poor choices for our good Rom 8:28 but the idea that God can sin or that our sin can be "ordained" seems inconsistent with His word.

Thanks for your question.  The verse, from my sermon, being referred to is Judges 14:4, which states, “His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines.  At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.” (ESV; italics mine)

So first things first.  In some way, Samson’s choice was “from the Lord.”  That’s in the verse.  There’s no way to get around it.  The question is whether or not this was simply a “poor choice” on Samson’s part or sin.

We began our Judges’ series by looking at the end of the book of Joshua, because the two books help us to understand each other.  In Joshua 23, Joshua says, “Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.12 For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you,13 know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you.” (Joshua 23:11-13 ESV; italics mine)

Now there’s no clear commandment here, but there’s an obvious warning that intermarrying with non-Jewish people will result in God turning against His people until they have perished (died).  In the Bible, death is often a consequence for sin.

Earlier in the Bible, Moses recorded, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction.  You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. 3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods.  Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.” (Deuteronomy 7:1-4 ESV; italics mine)

The land Moses was speaking of is the land in which Samson lives.  And now we have a clear command accompanied with a warning:  “You shall not intermarry with them” and if you do the Lord will “destroy you.” (Deuteronomy 7:3a; 4b ESV)

So we see two things.  1) Samson is breaking a command given by Moses, not just making a poor choice, and 2) His decision is “from the Lord.”

Now what’s making the questioner uncomfortable is a very God honoring desire.  They don’t want God to be seen as sinning or as “ordaining” our sin.  First, God does not sin.  That’s clear in the Bible.  Second, the idea of God “ordaining” our sin isn’t something I said in my sermon.  This is something being inferred from what I did say (Samson’s choice was both sinful and from the Lord).  And this may seem like the logical conclusion, but many times God and His actions defy our logic.

For instance, God sends an evil spirit to torment King Saul...twice! (1 Samuel 16:14; 19:9 ESV).  Now God sends the evil spirit, He doesn’t do the evil Himself, but let’s be honest.  God seems to be a little too close to evil for my logical comfort.

Or what about Old Testament prophecies that are predictions of evil things that must come to fruition?  Prophecy isn’t God looking into the future and telling us what people will choose to do; prophecy is God telling us what the future will be.  God’s prophets predicted the betrayal by Judas, Christ being beaten, and the crucifixion, just to name a few.  Evil things that were destined to happen because God promised they would happen.  Leaving us with two logical conclusions:  1) God promised evil things that must happen in the future or 2) We have to redefine what prophecy is to keep God from getting too close to evil.

So which do we choose?  How about a non-logical conclusion?  A conclusion that says:  God doesn’t sin, yet our choices (even sinful ones) can be from the Lord if they will accomplish His purpose.  This is what the Bible seems to be telling us in Samson’s story.

Does it defy logic?  Yes.  Is it what the Bible teaches?  Based on the verses cited above (and many more)...yes!