Rights Can Be Wrong

Whitney Capps

Day: 39 | Plan: Joshua-Judges

Today’s Reading: Judges 15

Judges 15:3 (NIV) “Samson said to them, ‘This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.’”

Have you ever strongly felt that you had the “right” to do something? To confront someone? To have your say? To get even? I have. And here’s the crazy thing. When I get all consumed with what’s my “right,” what I “deserve,” it’s hard to think very clearly. My emotions make it hard to make good, wise decisions. This is where Samson is in Judges 15. He wants revenge.

And revenge, he says, is his “right.” Samson’s father-in-law has given Samson’s wife (whom Samson abandoned) to another man. Though the woman’s father offers Samson another daughter, Samson is enraged. Because of this offense, Samson says he has the right to get even, not just with the father but with the whole community of Philistines.

Samson is a man consumed with what he wants—whether pagan wives or vengeance on his enemies. His most valiant stories are usually motivated by what Samson wants or what he thinks he deserves.

And yet, Samson’s emotionally-driven outbursts are legendary Old Testament stories of God’s judgment on Israel’s enemy, the Philistines. His volatile decisions were a detriment to his spiritual effectiveness. Despite being used by God, Samson’s story is filled with moments of conflict and failure. Every high is accompanied by a significant and painful low. After torching the Philistines’ grain, Samson angers his own people and they turn him over to the Philistines. God uses Samson, yes. But Samson’s selfish motives and rash decisions bring unnecessary conflict into his life. Why? Does Judges 15:3 give us a clue? I think so.

It is not wrong to consider our liberty and rights. But for the Christian, being consumed by our rights can place emotion above truth and handicap our ability to clearly consider what God might want us to do. Today’s passage is a helpful reminder for me. I am often motivated by what I think is fair. When I’m wounded or offended, I can easily plot a plan for how to get even. But I certainly don’t want a Samson kind of story.

Let’s read the story of Samson, remembering that he was not simply an Old Testament celebrity. He was a man whose motives and emotions complicated his spiritual effectiveness. I’d rather be rightly used by God than using my rights to get my way.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am convicted by Your Word. I am a spoiled child who demands what’s fair and claims my rights. I can often let selfish motives and emotions cloud my judgment. Samson’s story reminds me what the consequences look like when I act impulsively. Help me to forget myself, and use me in any way that brings You glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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