In wrath, remember mercy

Remembrance and its opposite - Second in a series

How many have cried out, over all the centuries, for God to PLEASE remember their plight, and to please HELP!

Job cried, O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! (Job 14:13)

Hannah cried, …If thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life… (1 Sam 1:11)

David cried, Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? (Ps 89:47)

Samson cried, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. (Jdg 16:28)

In each case, we have on record that the person was remembered. Indeed, none was ever forgotten, nor were any ever who belong to God, but it feels that way at times.

Let us focus on Samson, the man about to die, to gain insight about God's faithful remembrance of his own.

He was twelfth in the line of judges whose role was to rescue Israel from oppression by heathen nations. Israel had been under Philistine rule for 40 years when he was born. (Jdg 13)

His father, Manoah, was a Danite whose wife was barren. An angel appeared to her to announce she would bear a son: She should not drink wine, strong drink, nor eat anything unclean. Her son would be a Nazarite from the womb and would begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. (Jdg 13:5)

A brief aside about the Judges

The Lord tried many routes to achieve Israel's sanctified national life. One way was through Judges. Starting with a son of Judah, Othniel; then a son of Benjamin, Ehud; then Shamgar and Deborah, probably of Ephraim (Jdg 4:5; 5:6); next Gideon, a descendant of Manasseh; then Abimelech, Gideon's son whose mother was a concubine, not a wife.

Hmm. Let's stop a moment. There is quite a difference between the first five Judges and Abimelech. Othniel was Caleb's nephew, Ehud was raised up as a "savior" (Jdg 3:15), Shamgar "delivered Israel" (Jdg 3:31), Deborah was a prophetess (Jdg 4:4), and Gideon was assigned to his mission by the angel of Jehovah (Jdg 6:14). But Abimelech nominated himself (Jdg 9:1-2).

Abimelech reigned for only three years. He fought for Israel but then was swiftly punished for murdering his half brothers.

Next, Tola of Issachar, "arose" to judge Israel for 23 years, and then Jair, another from Manasseh, "arose" to rule 22 years. There is no indication they were not chosen by God, and it was after Jair's death that Israel again did evil, requiring a new leader.

In this instance, God told his children he would no longer save them (Jdg 10:13). Left to their own devices, they chose Jephthah who was uncertain whether God would honor his efforts. He was the son of Gilead of Manasseh and a harlot, so his brothers had driven him away early in life. In time of need, they called on him, and returning, God assisted him to succeed in battle.

After Jephthah's rule of only six years came judges of no repute, Ibzan of Judah, Elon of Zebulun, and Abdon, probably of Ephraim.

The Lord had assigned or permitted judges from numerous tribes, from both high and low beginnings, those he ordained and those he merely assisted. No matter what, the people wandered from God's law.

It seems right, then, that when Samson of Dan was raised up, though his rule was divinely ordained, God did not promise he would deliver Israel, but only that he would begin to do so (Jdg 13:5).

Returning to the theme of Remembrance

The Lord had finally given up on providing leaders who would reestablish a separation between his people and their enemies, delivering them from evil. Instead he moved to defeat the enemies of Israel while punishing his own as they pursued relations with them.

When Samson sought a wife from among the Philistines, his parents objected… They knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines. (Jdg 14:4)

Throughout his life, Samson made alliances with Philistine women, till finally Delilah discovered the secret of his great strength and a man shaved his head as he slept.

Samson typified his nation: though a Nazarite from the womb, that is, sanctified as separate from the world for service to the Lord, he was ignorant of his special role in history, and continually went astray, a profligate man with a ruined witness for the Lord.

Nevertheless in the end, in dire need of mercy, the Lord answered when he cried, "Remember me!"

Any nation with a righteous heritage which they disregard or despise, is heading into a death trap. Like Habakkuk of around 612 BC, now, 25 centuries later, we hear many cry out to God for our country, O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. (Hab 3:2) And for the beloved of the Lord, mercy in wrath will be shown. The Lord is mindful of his own.

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