The only safety

I was pleased that after explaining this to my family, I realized that Harold B Lee is making the same point in a famous quotation of his.

We are all familiar with Joseph Smith’s teaching: “I … visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet;’ but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.”

But when is a prophet “speaking as a prophet”? The scriptures provide the answer plain as day.

D&C 68:3 And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.

4 And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.

5 Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.

So a prophet is speaking as a prophet when he is speaking as moved upon by the Holy Ghost.

This is the living principle. We have replaced it with a dead principle. The dead principle is that we know when someone is speaking as a prophet by how official the setting is. The most common example is that we believe every time church leader speaks in general conference he is “speaking as a prophet” instead of believing what the scriptures plainly lay out: that he is speaking as a prophet when moved upon by the Holy Ghost.

Now the dead principle seems safer to us, because it makes it easier to force deluded members into accepting everything said in general conference as being scripture. Giving us an easy cliche’ way of accomplishing that, we think it protects the church. But the living principle is better. What we are doing to protect the church endangers it. Safety is only found in the living principle, not in the dead one. Safety is only found in members living so well that they know by the Holy Ghost what is prophetic, for if the members are not living up to that, then the church is no longer accomplishing its purpose anyway – it is no longer connecting members to the Holy Ghost.

If we stand by the scriptural principle, then we win in the long term. The scriptural principle is that a prophet (including our twelve apostles) is speaking as a prophet when he is moved upon by the Holy Ghost. It is the fact that this principle makes requirements of us that makes it powerful. It requires us to face the fact when we cannot determine what is the Holy Ghost. It requires us to live so we have the Holy Ghost with us, or to admit that we are living below what is necessary. This is a living principle and the principle taught in the scriptures.

We switch over to the dead principle when we determine what is prophetic by whether it was said in general conference, rather than in an Ensign article, or written in a book. When we say “everything in general conference is scripture” we are using bureacracy to determine truth. That tells us something important about ourselves. It tells us we are living both beneath our privileges as well as beneath our responsibilities. If we are living up to our privileges then we know when a man is speaking by the Holy Ghost:

D&C 50:21 Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?

22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.

21 Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?

22 Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.

When we are living so we have the Holy Ghost properly then we can tell when a man is speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost. We are edified and rejoice together as we hear and learn. Many people experience this during general conference. General conference is like a river of light and truth. When we find ourselves learning by the spirit, or gaining insights from the Holy Ghost as we listen, then we can know that the person speaking is speaking by the spirit. That is a living principle instead of a dead one.

Joseph Smith said in a famous sermon: “…if I am so fortunate as to be the man to comprehend God, and explain or convey the principles to your hearts, so that the Spirit seals them upon you, then let every man and woman henceforth sit in silence, put their hands on their mouths, and never lift their hands or voices, or say anything against the man of God or the servants of God again.”

THAT is what we are after. We want to have the Holy Ghost so that when a man is moved to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost then the Spirit seals the principles he conveyed upon us. When we replace a living principle like discerning through the Holy Ghost whether a man is moved upon by the Holy Ghost with a dead principle like “everything said in general conference is scripture” then we miss that crucial matter: we do not have the princples that were taught sealed upon us by the Holy Ghost.

Principles taught by the Holy Ghost are sealed upon us when “he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth”. Put differently, when the person teaching is moved upon by the Holy Ghost  as he teaches, and the person receives it by the Holy Ghost then a unique thing happens. The principles taught are sealed upon them. This is the only real and meaningful gospel teaching. Anything else is darkness.

But we cut off men from even striving for that unique sealing of doctrine in their hearts when we set a standard less than, or different than, the scriptural one. Is truth known by the spirit of truth or by some other way?

We like to think we know better than God. We like to steady the ark and tell him the right way to do things. We should listen to his scriptures instead. We must not convince other members they can discern truth rightly as a saint by some principle of bureaucracy. They must live to have the Holy Ghost. They must quest for that sort of a life, pleading with the Lord to help them discern what to change, and making every change necessary to bring that about. It is the requirement made of all men. It is what it means to put off the natural man. It is the only safety.


Revelation and regular members

We think of revelation by the Holy Ghost as being largely unnecessary in the lives of “regular members”. I am not talking about warnings, though certainly those are a type of revelation. I am not talking merely about promptings to do service, though certainly those are a type of revelation. I am talking about learning truth by the Holy Ghost.

We think that callings impart an ability to receive revelation. But no, that is not true. Feasting on the words of Christ by the light of Christ and by the Holy Ghost over the years prepares us. Strictly denying ourselves of all ungodliness prepares us by cutting that which offends the Holy Ghost out of our lives. Saving the souls of men prepares us by bringing the Holy Ghost into our lives.

When we get a calling, our ability to receive revelation is what we bring to the table, not a benefit of the calling itself. If we have gained keys with our calling, then who we are allowed to direct by an actual statement of revelation has changed.

But our ability to receive revelation is what we bring to the table, not what is handed to us with the calling. No matter our calling, our chief matter in life is to gain eternal life. We needed the ability to gain revelation in that matter before the calling as much as we did after, and it remains the chief question of our mortal probation.

Joseph Smith said “God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them”.

The terms on which revelation are granted are unchanging. The right to lead others by a statement of revelation depends on our keys.

D&C 35:25 And Israel shall be saved in mine own due time; and by the keys which I have given shall they be led, and no more be confounded at all.

So the day after a man becomes a patriarch, he may do a new thing with whatever ability to receive revelation he has. But his ability to acquire revelation remains the same.

The day after a man becomes a bishop, he may do a new thing with the ability he has to receive revelation. But his ability to be guided by the Holy Ghost is what he brought to the table. He got the gift of the Holy Ghost for being a member, not for being the Bishop.


Ezra Taft Benson said “The world worships the learning of man. They trust in the arm of flesh. To them, men’s reasoning is greater than God’s revelations. The precepts of man have gone so far in subverting our educational system that in many cases a higher degree today, in the so-called social sciences, can be tantamount to a major investment in error. Very few men build firmly enough on the rock of revelation to go through this kind of an indoctrination and come out untainted. Unfortunately, of those who succumb, some use their higher degree to get teaching positions even in our Church educational system, where they spread the falsehoods they have been taught. President Joseph F. Smith was right when he said that false educational ideas would be one of the three threats to the Church within (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 312-13).”

I stand 100% by President Benson’s statement. It fits my experience perfectly. Those who invest their time in psychological learning have a horribly difficult time ever finding their way back out of it. They just can’t stop thinking they have the inside story, the scientific fact-of-the matter.

You give a man a degree in that field and the philosophies of men not only mingle with the scriptures in their lives, they never seem to get over judging the scriptures and gospel truth by the philosophies of men, rather than judging the philosophies of men and their learning by the scriptures.

There was a great hero in the bible named Gideon. Gideon was called to do a work for God by an angel that was sitting under his oak tree. Nevertheless, Gideon made a grave mistake. Gideon collected a lot of gold from his battles, requesting part of what his 300 soldiers took. In the scriptures we read:

Judges 8:27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah; and all Israel went thither a whoring after it; which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.

That is precisely what psychology and psychiatry become in the homes of those who are afflicted with such learning. It becomes a snare to themselves and to their descendants.

It binds them down in ignorance, while they themselves feel like they are knowing and informed.

Look, there are some things that are known only by the light of Christ or by Holy Ghost. One of those is the true character and nature of mankind. When you try and poke and prod and extract something meaningful without the Holy Ghost, all you are going to get a is a hot mess. You are going to end up deceived. And you won’t get it right until you discard the whole mess as a horrible mistake, consider yourself a fool, fully repent of leaving God out of the questions you should have gone to no other source for, and determine to go solely to God to gain answers to questions that tread on sacred ground.

Psychology is the religion of atheism. It attempts to resolve the “right thing” to do in all sorts of crucial day to day matters, including in parenting, in the home, in marriage, in caring for the poor, without seeking those answers from God. It addresses sacred matters like the intimacy between men and women without care or concern for God’s commandments. That means it toys about with the sin next to murder and yet it thinks it can give you truth. It addresses fundamentally sacred and religious questions without seeking its answers from God. It takes the most sacred of relationships and tries to understand how to approach them using only the philosophies of men. Only by the light of Christ or the Holy Ghost can we gain answers to questions about such sacred matters as how to properly build a marriage or family.

Psychology gives the devil an inroad to the destruction of the family. Those who teach doctrine about human relationships and anything that bears on family relationships are treading sacred ground. Treading that ground without God as our guide opens the door to the adversary, and he won’t turn down a golden opportunity like that.

Psychology also seems to be the religion of manipulation.

Pscyhology and psychiatry provide the clergy and priesthood for the church of the devil to really gain a stranglehold in society. It would be perfectly fair to say that is a self-evident truth, for surely it is. But it plays out in constantly that way in real world politics these days. Questions that were once addressed by turning to religious truth are now answered by turning to psychology. The question of gay marriage? Who cares what religious nuts say, now we have psychology! Professor so-and-so did study X and we found out that boys aren’t even boys and girls aren’t even girls and you can marry whatever gender you want without consequence according to the study by professor Y. Or so the modern practice goes.

Seriously – pscyhology now reigns supreme in our lawmaking in precisely the place religion once stood. It has become a tyrant as no legislature wants to oppose a bill that is supported by some psychological study or other, even if the bill goes against conscience or basic human decency. This is how horribly wicked legislation becomes law these day – by fools in the legislature sweating out how stupid they will look if they vote against something that calls itself a science.

Psychology is the religion of atheism and those who practice it serve as the clergy. And you can’t do that without paying a horrible spiritual cost. You can’t be spending your life adoring and preaching and believing what is nothing better than pure deception and not have it cripple your ability for the Holy Ghost to show you the truth of all things.



A note on Harry Potter

I am a huge fan of editing books or movies or board games in order to bring them within the standards of the gospel. I have been surprised at the number of people who wholeheartedly endorse the Harry Potter books.

Book six appears to portray making out as normal, which is absolutely wrong to portray to our children. But book seven goes much farther and includes a line where Ron reproves Harry for groping Ginny every chance he gets (page 118). Harry makes no denial of doing such a thing. The intention here is clear. Giny is Harry’s girlfriend so according to the author, naturally he touches her breasts. I don’t know how many kid’s books include the word “groping” as an activity between adolescent boys and girls, but I think it is revolting and way outside gospel standards.

That being said, I am a big fan of editing things so that they become clean.

We still live a law of Moses

We still live a law of Moses. We live that which is preparatory, rather than the fulness, and we ever will be living that which is preparatory that until we have Zion in its fulness.

Is tithing part of the fulness of the gospel? Well, it is part of the current practices of the church. But it is a preparatory law, given when the Saints failed to live the law of consecration. One day it will not only be gone, it will be gone for good. And consecration will take its place.

Our gospel practices are meant to keep us out of trouble. We have not learned to hear, we only see through a glass darkly, and so the simplest most guarded version of God’s commandments are laid out before us both as a protection and as a test.

If you had a child who was deaf or blind you would be likely to give them safeguards designed to prevent them from accidentally falling into disaster that they could not perceive. That would likely to be a major point of emphasis – basic disaster prevention – as they have not all their physical senses. If they will heed your counsel they will stay out of disaster.

That is, more or less our position.

We join the church, or grow up in it, but we are mostly unseeing. It takes time for us to really start hearing and rightly discerning that inspiration that comes from God.

And even then, we make many, many mistakes as we begin to wake up and learn to listen. These mistakes are mostly founded in our own lack of obedience.

But why would I say we now have the “most guarded” version of God’s commandments. Well, that is no surprise. We are blind, and so God is trying to prevent disasters. Right now we have a commandment “Thou shalt not kill”. If one day we as a church have learned to see and hear as clearly as Nephi, then we will understand the principle so perfectly that we could have known to have slain Laban as Nephi did upon nothing more than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

But as things stand, God could not trust us with such commandments from him. We cannot hear him well enough and in time some among us would lose their souls by slaying wicked men contrary to the desires and allowances of God.

By saying we have the most guarded version of God’s commandments am I advocating lenience in our obedience? Absolutely not, for they are still his commandments to us. They are a test of our obedience and we are far too lax in our obedience to God’s commandments. I am not saying we should not obey. I am saying that they are rote commandments given to us second hand because we cannot hear for ourselves. It is like the difference between being the babysitter with a list of rules from Mom and Dad and being at home with Mom and Dad telling you what you need to do. It is still the same parents giving the direction and disobedience brings trouble in either situation. I am not advocating lenience in our obedience to the commandments in any way. It is strict obedience that it is required.

Of course the main commandment, the big one, so to speak, is that whatever God requires is right, whether it be “thou shalt not kill” as he requires of his saints in this day, or “thou shalt utterly destroy” which he required of ancient Israel.

When we someday find that we are learning to see in truth and learning to hear in truth, surely God will give us much, much more. When we have moved past the point where the main issue God needs to worry about with us is no longer basic disaster prevention, will he not teach us and raise us up in the way we should go, just as we do with out own children?

D&C 59:3 Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength.

4 And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.

We have a great deal left to learn, and we are ill prepared for the task. Joseph Smith explained “If the Church knew all the commandments, one-half they would condemn through prejudice and ignorance.”

And there is danger in our ignorance. We must learn to grow into the principle of revelation. Our path begins with a revelation: a testimony of the truth. It ends with revelation, for to know God is to have eternal life. When we do not grow into the spirit of revelation for ourselves, then we miss the point of the gift of the Holy Ghost and we are in danger, for inspiration through the Holy Ghost is the only real safety. The Holy Ghost can help us escape from our own false traditions, and bring us to God instead.

Joseph Smith said “I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen.” (Jan. 20, 1844.) DHC 6:183-185.

We do not understand the sacrament

I don’t think we understand the sacrament in the least. I think it hasn’t even crossed our minds what is going on with it. Our explanations of it just don’t match up with the scriptures.

The point of this post is not to explain what is missing, it is simply to point out how completely we fail to understand the sacrament, myself included. We will not ask, seek, and knock to understand that which we think we already know.

We all know that the sacrament was initiated at the last supper. We all know that, but I am not sure that is actually true, for we read:

JST Genesis 14:17 And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and he break bread and blest it; and he blest the wine, he being the priest of the most high God,

18 And he gave to Abram, and he blessed him, and said, Blessed Abram, thou art a man of the most high God, possessor of heaven and of earth;

Our understanding of the sacrament fails to carry the weight that it is given in the scriptures. For instance, if Christ was coming to visit us, we would hope for divine teaching from him. But what the account in 3 Nephi says is that he “did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them”.

3 Nephi 26:13 Therefore, I would that ye should behold that the Lord truly did teach the people, for the space of three days; and after that he did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them.

When we read this verse, it is clear there is something going on that we do not understand. Some may think that the issue is merely that “the gospel is simple”. But God understands the weight of his actions, and the weight he places on the sacrament, where he actually comes down from heaven oft to give it to his people, is so far outside the realm of what we understand the sacrament to be that we can only conclude that we don’t have the faintest idea what the sacrament really is, or what it really means to partake of it.

And it sounds like that same weight will be given to the sacrament at Christ’s second coming. He doesn’t talk about ministering to us in the temple ordinances, he talks about doing the same thing he did with the Nephites: offering us the bread and wine in person. Most of D&C 27 is a divine guest list of those who Christ will partake of the sacrament with in the resurrection.

Doctrine & Covenants 27:4 Wherefore, you shall partake of none except it is made new among you; yea, in this my Father’s kingdom which shall be built up on the earth.

5 Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim;

I won’t give the rest of the chapter, but verses 6 to 13 enumerate prophets who will be invited to this sacrament and verse 14 adds that “all those whom my Father hath given my out of the world” will also be included. It is the second coming version of his administering the sacrament to the Nephites.

Consider Christ’s words in John 6. The weight that the Savior puts on partaking of his flesh and blood is miles away from what we understand it to be.

John 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up in the resurrection of the just at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

Can we read the words written there and comprehend them? “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” Wow. Just, wow. We don’t have the least idea what the sacrament is all about. The phrase “dwelleth in me, and I in him” is a phrase Christ elsewhere uses for explaining his connection with the Father. He says things like “the Father that dwelleth in me: he doeth the works”, as well as “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me”.

We are not living up to our privileges in other regards, and that makes it impossible to partake of the intended privilege offered by the sacrament. After all, obtaining our privileges is a matter of living up to them – it is a question of how we live.

I conclude with the words of the Sacrament prayers. I am not sure whether this prayer has ever been answered in this dispensation in the fullest sense that God intends, simply because we have not lived up to it yet.

D&C 20:77 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

79 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.



Caffeinated drinks

We are a sad lot. There is a scripture that says “Where there is no vision the people perish”. I think the case of caffeinated drinks demonstrates that verse nicely.

If we had the least vision of what heavenly father wanted for his children we would not hesitate to tell them to stay away from a drink that could become a sort of infatuation with being in bondage. It seems that you don’t have to know too many people that drink caffeinated drinks to know one or more that can’t have a normal day without their caffeine. Do we have no more vision than to believe that is what Heavenly Father wants for his children?

Would we want it for our own children? I’m afraid the most scarring damage takes place when we knowingly pass something to our children that our hearts knew better than. It is when we create a sense of cameraderie within our own family around traditions and practices that can’t possibly please our Father in Heaven.

I think Satan is thrilled that he can get members into the habit of depending on something for normalcy in their life that makes them a little bit jittery (they like to use the phrase “energetic”). Satan can separate people from the Holy Ghost by getting them to break the word of wisdom, certainly. But if he can get people hyped up enough that simply partaking of the silence, stillness, and pondering necessary to fully commune with God, he can get most of the same effect at half the price.

Then we cannot know the stillness, the silent pondering, and the peace that passeth all understanding because we are back for another dose of “energy”. Then we have filled our soul with such noise and agitation that our temple becomes a place that is not receptive to God’s deeper messages. And that is dangerous business.

Joseph Smith taught: “A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity–thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men.”

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Surely we know that God wants better things for his children than for them to sip a drink of what can, in time, become a bondage they cannot properly enjoy most days of their life without drinking in yet again.

Ezra Taft Benson quote – Trusting Heavenly Father and keeping all his commandments

“I wish it were possible for all of us to place our trusts completely in God and to keep his commandments fully. I wish we had the courage, the faith, and the strength of character so that we would in very deed place our trust in our heavenly Father and keep all of his commandments and do that which is right.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Trust in God and Do the Right, April 1954)

Very short note – Ye say everyone that doeth evil is good

Well, this verse is spot on. We fall over ourselves fawning over wicked men and women these days. We won’t call evil evil, but want to find a way to say everyone that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord.

Malachi 2:17 Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? when ye say, Everyone that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?


In the story of Samson the angel’s version of what a Nazarite does says nothing about not touching dead things. In fact, it openly allows for eating the meat of clean beasts. The words of the angel were that he was to have no wine or strong drink, to not eat any unclean thing, and that no razor would touch his head.

In our feminized day of emasculated men we have started to view Samson as a villain who uselessly kills people even in his death. I find that view repulsive.

Samson appears in Judges 14. The entire preceding book of Judges is a single scenario repeated over and over. The scenario is summarized well in Judges 2.

Judges 2:15 Whithersoever they [Israel] went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them; and they were greatly distressed.

16 Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.

17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them, they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so.

18 And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord hearkened because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.

Thus when we read

Judges 3:31 And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox-goad; and he also delevered Israel.

We are reading about a hero, Shamgar, who was one of the righteous men the Lord rose up and granted miraculous power to deliver Israel.

This theme in judges repeats itself again and again up to the story of Samson. When the Israelites are wicked they are delivered into the hands of other nations. When they repent in their great distress then the Lord raises up righteous men and, because of their righteousness, gave such men divinely endowed power to deliver Israel.

Does the Lord grant wicked men power to deliver Israel by divine power? No. That is the whole point of that verse “the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only on the principles of righteousness”. You don’t get divine manifestations of power from God for being bad.

But most of the accounts I have heard of Samson in the last decade have concluded that he was a horrible man whose death was a meaningless gesture that was an affront to God. These accusations seemed to be founded in the ideals of our very effeminized society and the modern emasculated man. There are completely wrong.

Among the previous chapters in judges are a constant stream of men (and women) delivering Israel by violence from her oppressors. In the strength of the Lord Shamgar slays six hundred philistines with an ox goad (which is probably no more than a pointed stick used to prod and ox along). Ehud slays king Eglon with a long knife hidden upon his thigh and delivers Israel from Moab by warfare. Deborah directs Barak who delivers Israel by warfare against Sisera and his 900 chariots of Iron. The Lord delivers Sisera himself into the hands of the woman Jael, who slays him by pounding a tent spike through his temples into the ground as he sleeps, and then decapitates him, for which act the prophetess Deborah includes her in a scriptural song of praise. Gideon is called by an angel to deliver Israel at a later date. Jephthah drives back the children of Ammon and does all that he swears to the Lord he will do, even concerning his only child, a daughter.

We read all these stories of the Lord putting Israel into bondage for years at a time when they are wicked, and then delivering Israel by righteous judges that he raises up for that purpose. And then we read the story of Samson and start calling him names because he slays a large number of philistines, even in his death.

Look, Samson was a good guy for the spirit of the Lord to fall upon him so that he slew a Lion with his bare hands as if the Lion was a goat’s kid. The spirit of the Lord has never fallen on anyone I know of today in anything like that much power. Had the Lord wanted Samson to prophesy in such power, or to see visions, he would have, but the Lord called him to destroy in that strength – specifically to begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines who had ruled over them 40 years. It was an angel that said to Samson’s parents:

Judges 13:5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head; for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

When Samson sees Timnath and desires her to wife, his parents object, but the Lord says it is of him. The Lord says he is inspiring it to create an occasion against the Philistines. The Lord does that sometimes. He creates offenses among men to protect or deliver his followers. We don’t know it. But, yes, the Lord arranges occasions of offense on purpose. That should not be a surprise. He says as much. He did so here to begin to deliver Israel.

Yes a dead lion would be considered unclean under the law of Moses. But the Lord did not apparently consider eating the honey to be a violation of his covenant. For the Lord stood by Samson after he ate the honey.

The first place we see something that we can clearly mark as wrong in the eyes of the Lord is after Samson has judged Israel 20 years when he goes in unto a harlot. Up to that point we are seeing the offense that the Lord laid out rolling forth to the destruction of many of the philistines as well as many of their crops. This is not particularly different than the Lord delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians using plagues, except he has sent Samson instead.

The Lord destroyed Sodom by fire from heaven, and he destroyed the Midianites by the sword of the Israelites acting under his command. Both Sodom and Midian were so wicked the Lord considered them worthy of destruction. Which method he used is, effectively, irrelevant. And whether he sent miraculous plagues to destroy the Philistines just as he destoyed Egypt, or instead gave miraculous power to a good man to destroy the Philistines is equally irrelevant.

Not long after the harlot we have Delilah, and certainly Samson pays the price in full. We look back at Samson almost with indignation. I am curious what we would think if the same punishment was laid on a man who did the same things today – to have his eyes put out and to grind in the prison house.

Yes, the punishment God appointed was just. But it was a punishment we could not endure. We would revolt if the punishment for adultery was to have one’s eyes put out and to grind as a slave in the prison house. Samson was right enough with the Lord for the Lord to pour his spirit out mightily upon Samson. Certainly such light came with greater knowledge and Samson knew better than to do that which led to offending the Lord so. And with such knowledge the Lord poured out severe punishment.

And there is more to it. When I read of a man whose birth was announced by an angel, and around whom what we think of as the normal laws of physics seem to be as pliable as putty when the spirit of the Lord comes upon him, then I am hesitant to speak ill of him, particularly when such power has returned to him near his death. Honestly, I think his election was made sure, and that is why the Lord allowed his misbehavior near the end of his life without God withdrawing his spirit from Samson until his hair was cut.

When the spirit of the Lord comes upon a man like that, we should not trifle with the account we give of him.

But we should recognize that when the Lord returns Samson’s strength, that Samson has repented in the Lord’s eyes and has again won the Lord’s favor. In fact Samson is again doing precisely the work the Lord called Samson to do while he was yet in the womb. He kills more Philistines in his death than all that he killed in his life. If that is what the Lord called him to do from the womb, we should put aside our stupidly effeminized cultural eyes to judge his final acts as “meaningless violence”.