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Lowell Brueckner

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Seeking the King of the Kingdom, chapter five


My great concern for the church today is that, in fulfillment of Paul´s prophecy, it has a form of godliness, but denies the power. It has doctrines that excuse and justify the lack of power. We have grown accustomed to the abilities and talents of men and fit it to their plans and schemes. Where is the manifestation of the Wonderful One as a practical Head over His Body, the Church. Where is the supernatural demonstration of the Holy Spirit moving and working among us. If He were in practical control, the ritualism and traditionalism would disappear from our gatherings and we would experience days of heaven on earth.  Wesley said something like this: “Would to God that we could have revival without the excesses! But if there must be excesses, then let us have revival at any cost!” Samson certainly had the excesses, but no one ever questions that the power of God rested upon him and that he supernaturally delivered Israel from their enemies.


“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)


The book of the prophet Isaiah has been called, at times, the Gospel of Isaiah, because it gives the clearest vision in the Old Testament of the coming Messiah, with the possible exception of the Psalms of David. Isaiah looked for a name for the coming Messiah, in order to present him to Israel and the world. He could not find one single name, so instead he used these five: Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. A person’s name should reflect his character and personality. Throughout scripture, we read of a change of names, when people were changed, beginning with Abram, who later was called Abraham. In the New Testament, Simon was called Peter by Jesus and Saul of Tarsus came to be known as Paul.

Isaiah had one revelation of Christ after another and the first name or characteristic that he gives us in the verse that heads this chapter of our book is Wonderful. The Hebrew dictionary explains that the word simply means some thing (or person) that is wonderful, a wonder, but it is taken from a verb that describes various actions: to accomplish hard things, hidden things, things that are too high; to perform miracles, unique works. He that is wonderful does all of these things.

We are seeing that the Christ, promised by the prophets, already was manifesting Himself in needy people in the Old Testament. I want to mention a story in the book of Judges, when Israel was not governed by a succession of human kings, but as necessary, God directly raised leaders from any one of the twelve tribes. This direct intervention by God was lost in the time of the kings and Samuel grieved with God over the loss (1 Sam. 8:7). Gideon, who was one of the first judges, said, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you” (Jud. 8:23). In those days, God still was recognized as the true and only king. The book mentions specifically that God elected leaders from the tribes of Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulon, some of which were the least known tribes in Israel.


The story of the last judge begins in chapter 13. It introduces a man and his wife from the tribe of Dan, another of the least significant tribes. In this account, God shows something of His nature and we can view this particular characteristic throughout the Bible. I mean to say that in this book, we see clearly how He utilizes that which is small, few or least probable, in order to save His people from the hands of their enemies. Manoah was of the small tribe of Dan and his wife was barren. How many barren women, from Sarah to Elizabeth, took part in the plan of God? It happened so often in the Bible that it almost seems to be a rule.

Again in this situation, we see the Angel of the Lord revealing Himself and He came first to the woman. The angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary in Nazareth, a virgin espoused to Joseph. The angel says nothing to Joseph until it was obvious that Mary was with child and Joseph was at the point of putting her away. It was also a woman, to whom Jesus spoke in Sychar and she was used to bring spiritual awakening to the town (John 4). The sex of the person, to whom He speaks, matters little to Him; it is only important that the person be obedient and willing. The wife of Manoah had her “Bethel” in a field.

From the beginning, the Angel brought her to recognize her condition and lack of ability: “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children” (vs.3). God is not preoccupied with being positive; He is realistic and in no way did he try to make her believe anything beyond the plain facts. He is not a proponent of positive confession or positive thinking. These ideologies, so popular among Christians in our day, proceed from another source.
She related her experience with her husband and said that the angel of God was “very awesome” (vs.6). I am impressed with the effect upon Daniel, when, not the Angel, but only an angel from heaven appeared to him: “His body was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult” (Dan. 10:6). His companions fled and Daniel was alone, but “no strength was left in me, for my natural color turned to a deathly pallor, and I retained no strength” (vs.8). Upon hearing his voice, “I fell into a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground” (vs.9). He had to receive a special touch in order to come to his hands and knees (vs.10). When the angel spoke to him, he was able to get to his feet, but he stood trembling (vs.11). The Gospels of Mark and Luke especially relate that again and again people were astounded and affrighted by the wonders of God done through Christ Jesus. Today, we treat the things of God lightly. We need a renewal of godly fear, before we can really appreciate the presence of the Lord.

The woman told her husband the news concerning the son that she would conceive, as well as the various conditions relating to his upbringing. Principally, she was to see that neither she nor the child would consume anything that came from the vine and their son, until his death, should never cut his hair. Manoah did what all god-fearing husbands should do, when God speaks to the wife, before speaking to him. He simply prayed and, when the Angel of the Lord appeared again, he followed her, so that he could meet him, as well.

Now, in this circumstance, we can find an answer to a question that some have raised concerning the encounter, which Jesus had with a rich young man. He wanted to know what he should do to have eternal life. He called Jesus, “good master” and Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. (Mk. 10:17-18). Cultists and non-Christians argue that this declaration proves that Jesus did not claim to be divine. In the case of Manoah, the Angel of the Lord refused to receive the sacrifice that they wanted to offer him, saying, “If you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord”. However, the context immediately gives us the reason that He commanded Manoah in this way: “For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD” (vs.16). He did not want Manoah to commit an idolatrous act, offering a sacrifice to a being that he did not believe to be God. In the same way, Jesus did not want the young man to call a fellow human being “good”; so in order to call Jesus “good”, he must first recognize Him to be God.

In both cases, the answers given to these individuals had to do with their concept about His person. Now, both Manoah and his wife knew that this being was awesome, but what they certainly did not know was that this person was the Angel of the Lord. Nevertheless, Manoah was soon convinced of it, when they saw the Angel ascend to heaven in the flame of the offering. “Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD (vs.21). To what conclusion did he come, when this was revealed to them? His answer assures us of the divine nature of this Angel. “We will surely die, for we have seen God” (vs.22). He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Manoah wanted to know the name of the Messenger that brought them these tidings and the Angel responded, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful? (vs.18). It is the same word that the prophet Isaiah used and, as we have seen in the definition, the name holds a meaning of something hidden or secret. In fact, at least one version that I have uses the word secret, instead of wonderful. We could say, in complete accord with the original Hebrew, that the Angel revealed Himself to Manoah and to Isaiah as a “mysteriously wonderful one”. It seems to me that the Angel, in asking the question, had to make it perfectly clear that it would be impossible for Manoah to be able to comprehend just how wonderful the Son of God is, even if he would know His name. However, being faithful to His name, “He performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on” (vs.19). This wonderful name is Jesus. The parents must know first His person, in order to give Him the credit for the wonderful acts that would be accomplished through their son.


When the Angel of the Lord revealed Himself to Manoah and his wife, they fell on their faces to the ground and they could never be the same. They did not see Him again, but that does not mean that He abandoned them. Years later, He revealed Himself in their son through the Spirit of God. It has always been the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal the Son and, when He began to manifest Himself in Samson, the whole nation could testify of mysterious wonders. Yes mysterious, because they could not comprehend the source of those miracles.

Samson was not a muscular man. How can I be so sure? If he had been, the Philistines would not have sent Delilah to question him, concerning the reason for his great strength (16:5). If he had been endowed with extraordinary muscles, the mystery would have been solved. Besides, our main purpose in this story is to recognize the Lord’s amazing character and the equally amazing ways that He works. Paul showed us the principle clearly, so that we need never mistake it: “The weakness of God is stronger than men… there were not many… mighty, according to the flesh… God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Cor. 1:25-27). In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul confirms it: “He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9). Therefore, the person who studies Scripture, if he sees things as God sees them, will deduce that Samson was not an especially muscular man, but probably to the contrary, we could well have been physically weak, or at best, of normal human strength.

Whoever reads Samson’s story will know that the man had many moral defects and that the strength manifested in him, was there only because of the grace of God. What do I mean by that? It is evident that the power of Samson was not natural, but came as the Holy Spirit was upon him, and his life was a testimony to the power and grace of God.

In the New Testament, the same wonderful Christ wanted to manifest His strength in His disciples. They were not able to achieve the things, which they did, through any natural means, but they acted according to the power of Christ, who dwelt in them by the grace of God. Paul commanded Timothy, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). Peter addressed the crowd in Jerusalem that was astonished, after witnessing the healing of a man who was lame from birth, and he said, “Why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?” (Acts 3:12) To be a good witness means much more than just to talk about Jesus. It means much more than to live a clean life and be good people. These things alone do not bring a sufficient witness before the world. A person is a good witness of the Lord Jesus Christ, when His glory shines brightly through him. That person is a mysterious wonder, just as his Lord, Jesus of Nazareth!

The life of Samson was a manifestation of the power of God. Who can argue against the fact that he received this life and lived it by the pure grace of God? It was evident from his first experience, when a lion came roaring against him (Jud. 14:5-6). Clearly, the Holy Spirit was not pleased with this attack and He came upon Samson, who then tore it to pieces with nothing in his hand. There is no doubt that this account has more to teach us than how a man bare-handedly destroyed a savage animal. It was a confrontation with the enemy, who is like a roaring lion and comes against each disciple of Jesus, challenging the divine calling upon his life. The devil’s power is broken, when we come against him, not in our strength, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. The devil cannot triumph over a life that is empowered by the Wonderful One, in fact, contrary to the enemy’s intention, out of the conflict comes the sweetness of a new nature (the honey, Jud. 14:8).

The second miracle, manifested through Samson, occurred when he was obligated to pay the Philistines 30 changes of clothes (14:12-19). It was then that he killed 30 of their men, took their clothes and with these he paid his debt. That is the way he “rendered to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”. Jesus got the money to pay His and Peter’s taxes from the mouth of a fish at no personal expense. So, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the world’s demands are met in the life of a believer.

We learn from Samson that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (2 Cor. 10:4). He knew to “enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property” (Mat. 12:29). Where Paul speaks of weapons, in the same verse he also explains that they are powerful for the destruction of fortresses. It is easy to see that this is not accomplished through human force. Can you imagine how complicated it would be to capture one live fox? Now, can you imagine Samson catching 300? My imagination fails me at this point, because I can’t begin to picture how he might have done it. But, he did it! I believe that. Once they were captured, he tied them in 150 pairs by their tails. He lit fire to 150 torches, tied them to the tails and set them loose in the Philistines’ grain fields, vineyards and groves, destroying everything.

Samson was a continual hassle to the Philistines and the leaders of “God’s people” became nervous. “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us?” (15:11). They wanted Samson to behave better, but a man anointed by the Spirit can never accept the dominion of the enemy over that which only should be subject to God. Those with unction are always a problem for the people that conform to the status quo. As was the case with young David before Goliath, Samson knew nothing of negotiations with the enemy. The boy, who had been anointed future king, did not accept the dilemma created by Goliath, which paralyzed the army of Israel for 40 days. David did not dialogue or negotiate with the giant. He didn’t even wait for him to launch the offensive. He took the initiative and, as a result, severed Goliath’s head from his body. The drastically sad situation that confronts the people of God today, as in the time of Samson and David, is the fault of those who have negotiated a peace with the enemy, because they do not want to cause problems.

The leaders of the children of Israel tied Samson and surrendered him to the Philistines (15:12-17). Samson permitted it on the condition that his leaders would not kill him, and they promised. How kind of them! They make me think of Gamaliel, who convinced the Sanhedrin not to kill the disciples, then sat with his colleagues and watched, while they beat them. However pronounced was the unfaithfulness of his countrymen, the Holy Spirit did not fail Samson and his bonds fell off.

Surrounded by his enemies, Samson had to defend himself with anything that he could find. He found the jawbone of a donkey. With that “weapon” he killed a thousand Philistines and then threw it away. It is not wise to preserve whatever instrument that God chooses to use. The importance does not lie in the instrument, but the presence and power of the Spirit, working through it. How many times have tools been converted into idols among God’s people? It happened to the ephod of Gideon, which he put “in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household” (Jud. 8:27). Oh yes, people are capable of deifying a dead donkey’s jawbone!

In the following chapter, we find Samson in the capital city of the Philistines. They discovered his presence and hid near the city gate, expecting Samson to leave at daybreak. He got up in the middle of the night, took the gates of the city with its two posts and bars, put them over his shoulders and carried the whole unit to the top of a nearby hill. His goal was not only to escape, but to leave an open door, so that anyone else who desired, could also go free. This is the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ, as well. It is not in this world to defend itself, but to tear the gates of the enemy from its hinges. “On this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it – or be strong to its detriment, or hold out against it” (Mt. 16:18 amp. ver.). Gates are not used to attack, but to defend. The Church must invade the capital fortress of the enemy and remove its gates, offering liberty to those that want to escape. That is the testimony of victorious evangelism and true mission work throughout the history of the church.


Now we come to the saddest part of the story (16:6-21). Samson confided to his lover the marvelous secret that the Wonderful One had covenanted with him and he was left under the curse of self-defense. It is a perfect example of the consequences of not heeding the warning, “do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Mt. 7:6). In just a few minutes, after shaving his head, Delilah robbed Samson of the most valuable treasure of his life, making him “like any other man”. I cannot think of anything sadder in this world than to see a man, who has experienced the power of God, reduced and converted into an ordinary man. When they gouged out his eyes, he lost the precious capacity that he had to see the Kingdom of God. Now, he could not receive the secrets that opened the portals of heaven and let him gaze in. Blind, they threw him into prison and tied him with chains to turn the mill. The purpose of his existence seemed lost and he entered a cycle of routine, without goals or destiny. Think about it and fear! How many people with the call of God upon their lives have been left to fend for themselves, under the curse of living like “mere men”?

We do not want to tarry here (the Author of Scripture does not detain us long), but go immediately to the next verse that, to me, is the most moving part of the entire story and one of the most comforting statements in all the Bible. It simply states, “However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off” (vs.22). Is there some hope for this poor wretch, abandoned to himself, having lost the unction of God and all that is meaningful to his existence? In Romans 15:13, Paul called God, the God of hope. He always provides the way to return, to recover what has been lost and to be reconciled to Him. Yes, the sad truth is that Samson’s hair had been cut and, although he had not kept his side of the covenant with the Wonderful One, the hair could grow again. Although it had been shaved, the life of the hair was deep in its roots and that, which possesses life, can be renewed.

Samson could not function again as he had been accustomed in the past, but the Wonderful One has ways to work that no one else knows or can devise. Samson was still useful for something. The sovereign God began a work to bring together thousands of Philistines, including the leaders, into one place. Even the irony of the story is wonderful. They gathered to worship their god and give him glory for the defeat of their worst enemy, Samson. It was a demonstration, for them, that their god, Dagon, was more powerful than the God of Samson. So, now that they had gathered, they decided to call Samson from his miserable mill in the prison in order to mock him, and in so doing, to jeer his God.

For Samson, it was the darkest and most disconsolate moment of his life, but it was just this condition that moved him to cry to God, as he had never done before. It often takes a similar situation to get someone to really pray. To become again an instrument in the hands of the Lord was worth more to him than life. Please, contemplate this prayer and let the Spirit of God move you to feel, even in a small way, what Samson felt that day, when he poured out his whole heart to the Lord from the temple of a foreign god! “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes” (vs.28).

After too much time of weakness, routine and darkness, can you imagine what Samson experienced? He felt once again the arms of the Wonderful One coming into his weak arms, and the power of the Almighty made his weakness disappear! To die is not bad, if in death he could fulfill the will of God for his life and this is exactly what happened. Samson pushed against the columns upon which the house rested, and the house fell upon him: “So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life” (vs.30). He could say, just as Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).

This story is a living example of what it means to triumph through death, which in truth is the only way that a Christian can triumph. We are no better than Samson. To die to ourselves, to our weak and poor intentions, to our blind and routine plans, we gain the intervention of the Wonderful One and He works miracles.

What Jesus did in Samson was the same that He did, when He came into this world: “Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst (Acts 2:22). He is the same Wonderful One of the 21st Century. Are we not yet sick and tired of seeing the strength of men and what they can do through their inventions and technology? Oh people, if we could once more be reduced to physical puniness, with only a donkey’s jawbone in the hand, what mysterious wonders we could see! What is lacking in our days is a transfer of everything that is of man, for everything that is of God. We can be sure of one thing: The guilt for the problem in the last days that there should be men who are “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Tim. 3:5), does not lie in Jesus Christ. He is the same Wonderful One, yes, forever.


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