Judges 15:18-19 NKJV
18 Then he became very thirsty; so he cried out to the LORD and said, “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant; and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?”
19 So God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore he called its name En Hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day.
Alright, friends, time for a word association game.
I say “Samson,” and you say…?
Delilah? Blinded? Long hair? Hair cut?
How about “dependent”? How about “weak”? I bet those never came to mind, did they?
Let’s face it, when we think of Samson today, we really do think of him as some kind of Hebrew Hercules: brash, flawed, heroic, and very strong. We remember the whole bit about Delilah cutting his hair and making him weak—because as we all know, short hair was Samson’s kryptonite, right? We think we have a handle on this Samson guy because we’ve read the children’s versions of his story or we’ve seen the old movie with Victor Mature. But we don’t really know the stories BEFORE Delilah, do we?
Today’s verses come from the early part of Samson’s life. The short version of the story (which, by the way, is told across Judges chapters 13 to 15) is that Samson grew up a Nazirite, someone dedicated wholly to the service of the Lord God. Once he matured, God urged Samson to take a wife from the Philistines who were oppressing the Israelites at the time. Yes, God told Samson to try to marry one of the enemy’s daughters. And yes, it was really just an excuse to, as the saying goes, “kick the hornet’s nest.” Through a series of events, Samson went from merely angering the Philistines to killing quite a few of them when they killed his new bride. After Samson slew a great number of them, he ran off into the highlands of Judah and hid out. Then the Philistines marched right into Judah and demanded the people of Judah hand over Samson.
Now, at this point you might expect that the people of Judah, being fellow Israelites with Samson and enemies of the Philistines, would offer a polite (or impolite) “No.” But they didn’t. Instead, the people of Judah took three thousand men and marched to the mountain where Samson was holed up, and they arrested him. Yes, Samson was betrayed by his own people, by GOD’S OWN PEOPLE. Rather than cause a scene, Samson allowed himself to be bound and he was taken to the Philistines. This is where God comes back into the story:
Judges 15:14-15 NKJV
14 When he [Samson] came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.
15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.
Nothing was going to hold Samson back. Literally, God “melted away” the bonds from Samson’s hands and turned him loose to do the Lord’s work. And such work Samson did! He picked up the jawbone of a donkey and killed a thousand Philistines all by himself! That’s got to be hard work for any man, even someone infused with the power of the Holy Spirit, and so after bragging about his triumph, Samson realized something very important: he was as mortal as any other man. So he called out to God.
Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
Samson had relied on the Lord for strength in battle, but up to now he had not needed to worry about something as simple as food and water. The admittedly brash young man was worn out from his one-man war, and he need the Lord to strengthen him.
But there is another thing going on here. Let’s backtrack and take a quick look at how Samson got there. Here’s the scene where the men of Judah arrested Samson:
Judges 15:11-13 NKJV
11 Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? What is this you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so I have done to them.”
12 But they said to him, “We have come down to arrest you, that we may deliver you into the hand of the Philistines.” Then Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not kill me yourselves.”
13 So they spoke to him, saying, “No, but we will tie you securely and deliver you into their hand; but we will surely not kill you.” And they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.
Look at what Samson’s own people said to him: “Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? What is this you have done to us?” Here was a man clearly devoted to the Lord God of Israel, and yet the very Israelites who ought to be applauding the young warrior are instead complaining that he is causing trouble. Here is one man standing up for God’s people, and God’s people want to capitulate to their enemies and stop that man. Here is a man who ought to be an inspiration to people—kind of like Gideon was several generations before—and yet no one comes to Samson’s side. And the worst part is this: the people of Judah know they are wrong. Why else would they come to Samson with three thousand men? They expected a fight!
However, Samson isn’t there to fight God’s people but to judge them, to save them, to show them the way. So Samson docilely goes along with them…and then kills a thousand Philistines.
After that battle, Samson not only thirsts for water, he hungers and thirsts for righteousness among God’s people. He thirsts for the living God to make His presence known among His people, to inspire them, to encourage them, to revive them. Samson calls out, and God doesn’t lead Samson to water, and He doesn’t simply make it rain. Oh no, God does better than that: He breaks open a rock to bring forth a spring of water where there was never one before! And Samson drinks of that water, and he names it En Hakkore, “the Spring of the Caller.”
Isaiah 41:17-18 NKJV
17 “The poor and needy seek water, but there is none,
Their tongues fail for thirst.
I, the LORD, will hear them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers in desolate heights,
And fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
And the dry land springs of water.”
Mighty Samson was weak and he was afraid of the victory of God’s enemies, and he called out to God for water. And God brought water from the rock, living water that only God could provide to His people. The glory of God was revealed from a spring of water pouring forth in Judah.
John 4:13-14 NKJV
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Samson stood alone against the enemies of God, and he was rewarded with grace upon grace, with water bubbling up to refresh and revive him, to give him strength for the rest of his days—and eternal life for the days beyond.
Have you called out to God for His living water? Have you found yourself worn out from the battle against God’s enemies? Do you feel like even those who ought to be serving God are giving in to the ways of the world, simply because they choose to be ruled by popularity or political correctness rather than the one true and living God? Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness in a high desert place? Then call out to Him! Call out to God for the water of life, and He will answer you, and He will revive you, and He will give you everlasting life. Call out, and He will open a “Spring of the Caller” for you, too.
We call to You, Lord God of heaven and of earth. We call out for righteousness and strength, for a flood of Your waters to rise and overwhelm the evil that threatens Your people. We call out, Father, for revival in this land, and a great thirst for You and only You. We call to You because we know that You alone can give the world the Living Water it so desperately needs. We praise You, Lord, and thank You for that Water, who is Jesus Christ. Amen.
Glenn A. Pettit