Judges 15:4,5 – And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.
Samson was a judge of Israel. He was a mighty judge. He was a great man of faith. Although this is not readily apparent from the story of Samson found from Judges 13 – 16, digging a little deeper into his life reveals his faith, and we can learn much from Samson today. Samson’s purpose in life was to deliver Israel from oppression under the Philistines. God sent the Philistines because Israel had forsaken God. Picturing the Lord Jesus Christ, Samson was raised up by God to deliver Israel from the Philistines. He mediated and interceded for Israel. He did battle with the Philistines, and he did it alone. The Lord Jesus Christ did his work alone. The Bible says all forsook him. He went alone to the cross. He bore our sins alone. He is our Saviour, and he shares his glory with noone else.
But Samson was a man. And he was subject to like passions as we all are. In the previous chapter he had become messed up, he was in a compromised state with the world. James says that a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Samson on one hand was doing God’s work, the Spirit of God was moving him at times, but on the other hand he wanted a wife from the Philistines. We cannot do God’s will when we are doing the devil’s will. No man can serve two masters. Samson went down the vineyards of Timnath, a place where he should not have been. And this is what started it all. It led to more sin. It let to more involvement with the Philistines. This is why a believer cannot compromise with the world. His friends at his wedding were Philistines, he surrounded himself, he immersed himself in the Philistines and so much so, that when he sent the foxes into their corn, they said, Who hath done this? They did not yet know that he was the mighty deliverer of Israel. You cannot have a little bit of the world, and a little bit of God. You cannot serve two masters. The Bible says, love not the world. Compromise is a slippery slope. But the world appeals to us, as the woman of the Philistines appealed to Samson. Samson had a weakness for women, and he went for looks rather than what God wanted for him.We so easily choose physical over spiritual, temporal over eternal, outer beauty over inner beauty. The world consists of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And Samson loved the world. And he is not alone, we all need Jesus to purge the love of the world from us. We cannot defeat our flesh, we cannot overcome the world, but by faith in Jesus Christ – 1 John.
Samson got into trouble, he made a big mistake. Mistake compounded mistake and he did not fit in well with the Philistines. It is like a Christian living in the world, trying to be part of the world, but not fitting in. A true Christian will never fit in in the world. But in Judges 15, he went to set his mistakes right. He brought a kid as a sin offering. He knew he had sinned. He had repented. This was a step of faith and humility. But Samson was about to discover what the world was and is all about. The world’s way of doing things. His father had given his wife to Samson’s companion. Another Philistine. The world will defraud you. The world will rob you. The world will take everything from you and leave you destitute. The world does not care for you. You enter the world, you leave the world, the world goes on. Your soul will slip to a Christless eternity, and the world will not bat an eyelid. The prince of this world is the devil, and the world takes after its prince. He is the spiritual father of all unbelievers, and he is out to destroy you, to rob you, to beguile you, to deceive you. He doesn’t want you to be saved, he wants you to die, he murdered mankind spiritually in the beginning, and if you are saved, he wants to keep you from living for God, from being used by God. The father of Samson’s wife was enticing Samson into even further sin, as taking the sister of your wife was forbidden in Leviticus. And this is what Satan will do, he will make you sin more and more, worse and worse. But he wraps it up well. He presents it well. He will really sell sin to you. Is she not fairer? Satan will appeal to the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes. But God had been working in Samson’s life, and through all of this, Samson could now be used of God to achieve what God wanted him to do. The Bible says God’s ways are unsearchable, God was working in this situation for good. The Bible says, Had the princes of this world known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Satan was trying to bring Samson down and succeeding, but God was able to use all of Satan’s advances in his life to get Samson back on track.
Now Samson would strike a massive blow to the Philistines. Samson torching the crops of the Philistines is a picture of true repentance, it is a picture of a new life, a life dedicated to God, a life used by God. 2 Corinthians 7:11 – For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. Samson had had time to cool off. Samson had repented. Samson brought a kid. He wanted to do what was right. But his father had given his wife away. The world had defrauded Samson. Samson did not want to sin further. His eyes were opened to what the world was all about. And he was blameless in what he would do this time. This was God’s will. The Philistines hated God, they worshipped Dagon, they were the enemies of God and God’s nation, Israel. They were oppressing Israel. They had made great gains. And they were doing very well. It was harvest time. The corn had been gathered into shocks, there was more corn standing ready for harvest, the vineyards and the olives were heavy with fruit. They were about to reap and enjoy their labour and fruits of success in ruling over Israel. But God had raised up a man who would bring it all to nought. God had raised up Samson, a mighty man of faith. In our lives, our enemies, our spiritual enemies can take a lot of ground. They can besiege us. They can surround us. They can come right to the door of our soul, as Hezekiah found out when the mighty, all conquering, rampaging Syrian army marched to the walls of Jerusalem. But if we are saved, ours are walls of salvation, and they cannot be touched, moved, breached. And it is now time to strike back in our lives.
The Bible says in Song of Solomon, Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.. And this is what Samson did. He went and caught the foxes. Foxes represent false prophets and leaders in the Bible. Jesus called Herod a fox. Foxes are cunning, crafty, smart, burrowing animals, and ready to exploit any weakness in your defense. Satan uses foxes in our lives. There were foxes in Israel. They were wreaking havoc. Israel’s leaders and prophets had led them astray. This is why Samson was alone. Israel was in a sorry spiritual condition. Samson was standing alone, just him and God. And this was enough. This is when one can become a thousand. We can feel all alone, Elijah felt very alone. But we are never alone. God is always with us, just as he was always with Jesus. The foxes had made Israel weak. They were destroying the grapes of Israel, but the Philistines were untouched. They had plenty. But Samson caught them. And this is no mean feat, even one fox would be impossibly, incredibly hard to catch, and much less alive. Yet he caught them. This is the power of a life turned to God. We can catch the foxes through his word. God is light. It exposes the dens where foxes are hiding, it reveals the holes, and we can catch them.
And we do not stop there. We do not catch and just release them back to do what they were doing before. We must be committed. We must be separated from the world. We must sever ourselves from our old lives, our old sins. Samson made an irreversible decision. He took a step of faith. There was no looking back. He turned them towards the Philistines. This represents a turning point in our lives. We turn the foxes that were robbing us on our enemy. And it is God that does this. Samson gave his spiritual foxes to God and let God deal with them. This is what godly repentance looks like. We clear ourselves of besetting sins. We repent. We confess. We mourn over our wickedness. We determine not to sin again by the grace of God. And God uses this to strike back at the enemy. God can use those same foxes to deal a crippling blow to the prosperity of the enemy. Samson sent flaming foxes into the Philistines fields. And they burnt everything up. The joy, the pleasure, the success, the prosperity, the fatness, the richness of the enemy was gone. There was no more the fruit of sin in Samsons life, but the fruit of the Spirit. He was in line with God’s will. God can use the things that destroyed you for good. He used Joseph’s time in jail for good. He used Paul’s persecution of the church for good. He turned the gallows for Mordecai into the gallows for Haman. The things in the life that were robbing us, are now trophies of victory. Badges of honor and glory to God. They overcame by the word of their testimony.
And they torch the enemy. Because Samson set them on fire. The firebrands were in the midst of their tails. Jesus is walking in the midst of the church, he was crucified in the midst. Jesus is who is in the midst. And he is the flaming firebrand of judgement. He doesn’t have to be a flaming firebrand to you, but that will depend on whether you are saved or not. Jesus is life to the believer, but fire and judgement to the unbeliever. We catch the enemy by the tail, just as Moses caught the snake by the tail. As the snake became a rod in Moses’ hand, so the foxes became a rod in Samson’s hand. The Philistines would now receive God’s judgement, the rod of God. The rod of God had been on Samson, and he had repented, but the unrepentant Philistines would first lose their harvest, and then their lives. This will be your fate if you do not repent and get saved. God will give you a chance. He might send lack into your life. But you may be doing alright at the moment. There may be corn, olives, vines aplenty in your life, but without God, they are just uncertain riches. The sins in your life will defeat you, they will send you to hell. You do not need to let the foxes destroy your tender grapes. The believer catches the foxes, but the unbeliever has his fields burnt by the foxes. As a believer you can send flaming foxes into the enemies harvest in your life, and the lives of others. Expose sin, deal with sin.
Fire represents the judgement of God. God is a consuming fire, and unless we are saved, that fire will fall upon us. God gives and God takes away. The corn in the field had not been eaten yet. And you do not know when judgement is coming to your life. There was a man that filled his barns, he was satisfied with life, he loved his niche in the world. But God said to him, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee. Riches are uncertain, this world is doomed, your life is temporary. It is the corn of the Philistines that is destroyed. The corn of God is never destroyed. What do you spend your life working for? Are you working to fill your own barns? Have you dedicated your life to vanity? Is your life about yourself, and not about God?
When you catch the foxes in your life, the foxes you have caught will convict other people. They will be a fire in other people’s lives, and a fire of judgement in the unregenerate, unsaved, unbelieving, God hating world. A life of a believer brings conviction. It will burn other people’s lives. And they won’t like it. This is why the believer is persecuted. This is why they came for Samson. People will not like it when you are living for God. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness and judgement. It is not you judging other people, it is God in you judging other people, just by the way you live. If ye love me, keep my commandments. By living in accordance with God’s word, but catching the foxes which so easily destroy the tender fruit of your life, you will attract the attention of the world. And don’t expect all of them to love you for it.Satan may have taken a lot of ground in your life. He may be producing a lot of fruit in your life. It is time to catch the foxes. It is time to strike back.