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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Judges 16:20, "And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him."

This morning, one of the most woeful and sorrowful verses in all the Bible is upon our minds. While it is never pleasant to consider these moments, segments of God's word like these are for our instruction, as we are liable to fall into similar situations. My own experience contains situations when the Lord was absent, and I knew it not. While we understand that His presence is not far from every one of us, fellowship with God that we so enjoy can be wanting when we follow after our own imaginations instead of His precepts. David encountered a similar time when in the depths of woe for his transgression, and he cried out, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation." (Psalm 51) Therefore, let us learn what we can about these times in the lives of Biblical characters to become more steadfast in our approach of our own lives so that we would be found walking with God instead of away from Him.

This account is in the midst of the life of Samson (one of the judges of Israel). He has been blessed with remarkable human strength and blessing from God that makes apprehending him impossible by the Philistines. Many times they tried to take him, but each instance was marked by a great deliverance from the Lord. So, the Philistines bribe Delilah to beguile Samson to unlock the secret of his great strength, and then be able to capture him. After several series of events, Samson tells Delilah that if his hair is cut with a razor, he will be weak as another man. After his locks are shaven, the verse above follows in which Samson is apprehended. But, notice that he immediately did not know about his plight. He arose to shake himself just like any of the previous times! How often we today think that if we have done something a certain way before, and we can just do it again the same way. James cautions us about saying we will do this or do that without the all- important "if the Lord will."

So, Samson's demise comes without him even knowing (at least for a time) that the Lord's presence had departed from him. How sorrowful a condition! Yet, even though he did not know at that moment that he was weak, those about him that sought his destruction did know. Delilah was convinced of the sureness of this event (even though Samson lied to her 3 times before). She felt sure that cutting his hair would indeed lead to his capture. Therefore, the question is, "How would we know that the presence of the Lord had departed from us?" To answer that question, I believe we must answer another question, "What was the source of Samson's strength?"

There is a popular mode of thought that Samson's strength was in his hair. Yet, the hair of his head was only symbolic of where his true strength lie. As a birth by promise, Samson's parents were told by an angel of the Lord what they must do and how the child must be brought up. As a Nazarite, his hair was not to be shaven, he was not to drink wine, etc. Each of these outward things were symbolic of him being special in the Lord's sight. Notice that the deliverances that Samson wrought before were not just second nature. When he slew the lion with his hands, the 1000 Philistines with the jaw-bone of an ass, etc, each occurrence is marked by the LORD's presence. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, or he besought the Lord for the deliverance. Therefore, Samson's strength did not rest in his hair but in the LORD.  The hair represented a covenant (if you will) of the Lord with him as a Nazarite of God.

Even when Samson kills more in his death than in his life, he has to beseech the Lord for that deliverance and victory. Without the Lord's strength, Samson could do nothing, but notice that the symbol of the Lord's presence had once again grown upon his head.  While the Lord works mighty miracles of deliverance according to His good pleasure, He has given us some things to follow that we are blessed in. He gave Samson some precepts to follow that he would be blessed in keeping, and today, we have been given things that we will be blessed in keeping. Could the Lord bless Samson with remarkable strength and him have no hair? Absolutely! But, the Lord removed His presence of providential protection from Samson when he broke the covenant given his family before he was born.

Now you might say, "Where are you going with this?"  The point is this: the Lord has given us things to follow after that we are blessed in keeping. His church is to worship Him in spirit and in truth. What happens when we neglect these items? What happens when we leave our first love? We can be a body whose candlestick is removed and wist not that the presence of the Lord has departed from us. What happens when we seek to preach ourselves instead of Christ Jesus  the Lord? The Lord can dry up the minister's gift and everyone see it but him. What happens when we leave the good way where rest is found for the soul? The Lord can remove His hand and Satan stand up to provoke us.

The Lord many times blesses us in spite of ourselves, and Samson's life is marked by many follies and transgressions. Yet, the Lord was merciful to not depart from him, but there came a point when there was no remedy. (II Chronicles 36:16) That point was when his hair was shaven, and we today need to remain separate from the thoughts and aims of the world.  While we live in the world, let us not live of the world. He has been merciful to us in our endeavours in spite of ourselves, but may we draw closer to Him in the future than we have in the past. May we cling to the precious truths and precepts that He has given. Indeed, Samson looked different with his hair by the keeping of God's commandments. May our conduct look different to the world by the keeping of the things that God has blessed us with. Samson needed the Lord, and we need Him today. May we outwardly live to show forth the Strength of our lives understanding that He never leaves us  or forsakes us, but striving to feel His presence with us through every course and scene of our lives.

How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus no longer I see;
Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flowers,
Have all lost their sweetness to me;
The midsummer sun shines but dim,
The fields strive in vain to look gay.
But when I am happy in Him,
December’s as pleasant as May.

His Name yields the richest perfume,
And sweeter than music His voice;
His presence disperses my gloom,
And makes all within me rejoice.
I should, were He always thus nigh,
Have nothing to wish or to fear;
No mortal as happy as I,
My summer would last all the year.

Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resigned,
No changes of season or place
Would make any change in my mind:
While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
All prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.

Dear Lord, if indeed I am Thine,
If Thou art my sun and my song,
Say, why do I languish and pine?
And why are my winters so long?
O drive these dark clouds from the sky,
Thy soul cheering presence restore;
Or take me to Thee up on high,
Where winter and clouds are no more.

In Hope,

Bro Philip