Monday, February 25, 2008

Learning Love From Samson and Delilah (Part 1)

The Grateful Dead sang a song called "Samson and Delilah," then the Pointer Sisters had a song called "Fire" where they put Samson and Delilah in the same league as Romeo and Juliet, having a love they could not deny. Yep, the Biblical couple has been enshrined as an example of a "love" story. But what was their love like?

To see this love story you have to go to the book of Judges (hee hee!). I recently did a Valentines banquet and got quite a look when I said, "Let's turn to the book of Judges." Well, its a fun story. Basically, we first learn about Samson's kind of love in chapter 14:1 when he "sees" a Philistine woman and tells his parents to go and get her for him. He makes three critical errors in my opinion. First, he spurns his parents counsel. Second, he chooses a wife that will be incompatible spritually. And third, he makes his decision based purely on physical attraction. He says, "She looks good to me" (v. 3).

Let's see how that worked out. Well, He makes his inlaws mad by gambling with them over a riddle. His wife tries to get the answer from him by manipulation through saying he hates her (16a). He puts his parents above his wife (16b) saying, "I haven't even told my parents why would I tell you?" She then manipulates him with tears, crying for seven days (17), which he gives in to. She betrays him to her people (18a). He calls her a heifer (18b).

Samson then demonstrates that he has an anger problem by killing 30 men and taking their clothes to pay off his bet (19); he ties torches to the tails of 300 foxes that burn up the grain fields and olive orchards (15:4-5). The Philistines retaliate by burning his wife and father-in-law, so he eventually kills 1000 with a donkey's jawbone.

Well let's see if his next relationship is any better. Judges 16:1 says that he saw a prostitute and went in to her. Okay, physical based and immoral.

Finally, we get to Delilah. It actually says that Samson "loved" her (16:4). But what does that mean? Let's see. Chapter 16 tells the tale of Delilah being bribed by the Philistines to find out the secret of Samson's strength so that they might know how to bind him to afflict him. Then there is this humorous cycle where she asks him, he tells her a lie, she tries what he tells her, the Philistines lie in wait to ambush him, whatever she tries fails, and he breaks the bonds. As you read the story you can just imagine the Philistines hiding in their house and seeing him awake breaking his bonds and them scurrying out the door.

So up to now we have relationships based on deceit, poor communication, favoring parents over spouse, immorality, majoring on the physical, name-calling, anger, manipulation, bribery--almost everything I've faced in marriage counseling. But I also see that every one of these areas could easily be a temptation for me. I'll explore that later.

Friday, February 22, 2008

About the Blog Title

Well, today I enter the blogosphere. My wife and oldest daughter preceded me into this world of contact. As I thought about a title that would really characterize my life and interests I was struck with my latest studies of Scripture. I have recently been stirred by the fact that the supreme thing that God calls us to is simply love. Love God, and love my neighbor, even love my enemy. Love my wife as Christ loved the church. Scriptural commands. My love for my brothers and sisters in Christ is supposed to be sooooo pronounced that all men will know I am a student and follower of Jesus by my love for them.

As I pondered these things it dawned on me that when you think of how we are called to be holy, righteous, perfect, blameless, wise, etc., love would fulfill all of these. The problem is that I know that at root I am not loving, I'm selfish. So I guess what I'm saying is that I see in me a deficiency when it comes to loving God or people. Yet, I see love as the most attractive thing I can think of. I do find within me a desire to love. So, what I am doing is getting busy finding out how to love.

Academically I have been in and out of school most of my life. In fact, I have just restarted pursuing a PhD. It will no doubt be helpful in many ways toward my profession, yet my title here is intended to emphasize that the pursuit that really matters most to me is to love God and people. I intend to share studies from Scripture and thoughts about what God is doing in my life toward this goal.

I invite you to join me on this journey as I ponder and pursue love to the highest degree, learning from Him who is the embodiment of love -- my Savior Jesus Christ.