In Judges 12, we find the judge Jephthah sets up a test for the tribe of Ephraim. The purpose of the test is to destermine who are true Ephraimites and who are not as it was determined that there were the fugitives of Ephraim and the true Ephraimites. I am reminded of John's first epistle
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
1 John 2:19
John clearly communicates that within the church there are those who are there but they are not in. Jesus speaks of separating the wheat from the tares and the goats from the sheep. This process that Jephthah instituted is a wonderful picture of the church in the New Testament and determining who is in and who is not.
In Judges 13 we see the miraculous birth of Samson as the Lord brought a child to Manoah and his wife. The Lord gave very specific directions as to how Samson should be raised as he would be the next judge for the nation. The nation of Israel is in the hands of the Phillistines and they are looking for deliverance.
In Judges 14, I see great tension in the scripture. I see Samson being used by God against the Phillistines; yet, I see a man who is compulsive, wants what he sees and wants it NOW, and lives by his appetites, he eats when he ought not as he eats ought of a dead carcass. The struggle that we see is a man who does good but who's character is lacking.
In Judges 15, I get even more perplexed as I see Samson losing control of his anger which ultimately brings about the loss of his wife and her father. He withdraws possibly out of grief, but then he is used by God to kill a 1,000 Phillistines with the jawbone of a donkey. Then he complains of thirst and God supplies him with water supernaturally. What a gracious response from the Lord to one who needs to learn some lessons of charcter. I am grateful that the Lord is good to me even though I need to learn some lessons as well.
In Judges 16, we see Delilah entered his life. She is encouraged by the Phillistines to find the source of his strength. He does not tell her multiple times but he ultimately gives in. The passage says,
It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death. Judges 16:16
If anything this reminds us of our need to be vigilant because the enemy will always send his messenger and will never give up in our life. He ultimately gives in but the story of Samson ends with hope as he repents. He ends his life in death but in victroy as he sees more Phillistines die in his death than saw die through all of the fighting of his life. It is never too late to turn around and be obedient to our gracious Lord.