This Sunday (31st May 2020), in the second part of our current series “Sweeter Than Honey” we shall return to the Book of Judges. And if in the first part we took time to consider Deborah the Prophetess, the first and only woman Judge to guide the tribes of Israel, on this occasion we shall spend a little time reflecting on the account of Samson the Nazarite, the last of the Judges.
In particular we shall ponder his riddle, the riddle he set for the Philistine brethren of his Gentile bride, those who became his guests at the wedding feast… (and there is much we could comment on about this in and of itself). And although I shan’t spoil Sunday’s message by explaining it here, let me remind you that the riddle says: -
“Out of the eater came something to eat,
And out of the strong came something sweet.”
Moreover, it is always worth noting when reading the account of the wedding feast of Samson in Judges 14, the reward he gave for solving the riddle… ‘thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing’.
The Scriptures are totally consistent in regard to the change of apparel required of the guests who are to attend the wedding feast. Indeed, as we find in Matthew 22, the Lord Himself told the Kingdom Parable of the Wedding Feast, which ends particularly badly for the man in attendance who did not have on a wedding garment (and we shall reflect on this further also on Sunday). Furthermore, there are several other examples of how certain other characters changed their apparel before meeting the king, Joseph as we saw from an earlier series being one such example. As he was taken out of the prison Genesis 41:14 says this: -
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh.
The change of raiment that is needed by each of us is illustrated in several Bible incidents. Adam and Eve following the fall, changed their fig leaf aprons for coats of skins. When the prodigal son returned to his father’s home, the father said to the servants “Bring forth the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. Blind Bartimaeus when he heard the glad message “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you” cast away his garment, his beggar’s cloak, rose and went to Jesus… and there are several others I could recount.
We understand that our old apparel represents the old man, our sinful ways, which much be changed before we can have any part in the wedding feast of the bridegroom, for assuredly unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. I remember how the Lord showed me this whilst working on mission in Rwanda. Those who had been imprisoned for their crimes during the genocide were outside undertaking manual labour and were readily identifiable by the pink outfits they were given to wear. Each was defined by his clothes and all who looked on them knew instantly of their sin. Spiritually it is just like this for sinful man. Until released from the bondage of confining sin we wear our own old clothes, but after we are saved, we are washed and given a change of garment… the fine white linen of the saints.
Man is often inclined to try and patch up the old rags himself and in doing so, put on some of ‘self’. However, another parable of Christ informs us how useless this is.
No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.
If you are desiring to get out the filthy old rags of an unrighteous, sinful life, then put your trust in Jesus and praise the Lord, He is waiting to clean you up and give you fine new clothes; It is Jesus who gives us a change of apparel… for He has given us the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”