Accountability Ignored

Okay, not sure why this hits the radar this morning. Not sure that my application is warranted. But here’s what I’m chewing on as I hover over Judges 13 through 15, something that clearly involves a very complex parent/child dynamic.

I’m back in Judges. I’m back to considering the pitfalls of power. And what jumps off the page are Samson’s parents.

Unable to conceive a child, they are visited by the angel of the LORD and told they would have a son, and a pretty special son at that (Judges 13). A son who, from birth, God would set apart for Himself so that he would “begin to save” Israel from the oppressive power of the Philistines that had ruled over Israel for 40 years. But what catches my eye this morning is the degree to which the scriptures make sure that we know that Samson’s parents stay pretty engaged in his life as he rises to power.

Samson went down to Timnah and saw a young Philistine woman there. He went back and told his father and his mother, “I have seen a young Philistine woman in Timnah. Now get her for me as a wife.”

But his father and mother said to him, “Can’t you find a young woman among your relatives or among any of our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines for a wife?”

But Samson told his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”

(Judges 14:1-3 CSB)

Now I don’t know a lot about ancient courting/engagement dynamics, but I’m going to assume the level of engagement by Samson’s parents in helping him pick a life partner is appropriate. He goes home and says he’s found “the one.” They question whether she’s really “the one” as they know God’s command (Deut. 7:3-4) and Joshua’s warning (Jud. 23:7-13) to not intermarry with the people of the land. They seek to hold Samson accountable for his feelings with the facts. But Samson wouldn’t have it.

Read on in Judges 14, and not only is Samson coming to age as to his feelings for the opposite sex, but he’s also becoming aware of his own body and the strength it possesses. He goes down to Timnah to see his fiancé, along with his mother and father, and at some point, when he’s alone on the journey, he’s ambushed by a young lion and he tears it apart with his bare hands. And the Spirit ensures the record shows specifically that “he did not tell his father or mother what he had done” (Jud. 14:5-6). He had told them of his passion and didn’t like their counsel, now he chooses to keep from them his power — perhaps because he didn’t want them speaking into that as well. The accountability structure which could have been in place through his parents is weakened by his lack of transparency.

Then, on the return trip to Timnah for Samson to marry his bride, he visits the sight of the lion carcass and eats honey from a beehive built within it. A violation of his holy, set apart state before God. Eating anything unclean was forbidden (Jud. 13:7). Not only does he eat of the honey, but he also gave some to his father and mother to eat (who accompany him again). And again, the Spirit makes sure we know “he did not tell them that he had scooped the honey from the lion’s carcass” (Jud. 14:9b). Not only has his accountability been kept in the dark, but now it is defiled as well.

Is Judges 14 about power and the need for accountability? Probably not. But is there a secondary application here? I wondering . . .

Last mention of Samson’s parents in Judges is after Samson starts playing reckless games with the Philistines and sets them up with a wager and a riddle. The Philistines threaten the newlywed’s bride to get the answer for the riddle or die. Samson’s response to her after her persistent questioning of him?

“Look,” he said, “I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother, so why should I explain it to you?”

(Judges 14:16b CSB)

I’ve ignored my God-given accountability, Samson says in effect, why should I be accountable to anyone else?

Mom and dad, engaged by God, but kept in the dark by their son.

Accountability ignored. Accountability defiled. Accountability unable to do its job of holding a leader accountable.

Hmm . . . something here to noodle on?

I’m thinkin’ . . .

By God’s grace. For God’s glory.

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