In Oct. 2016, I published an article titled, “Chosen by God: The Man Who Ate Honey, but Pulled Down Pillars,” which compared the rise of Donald Trump to the story of Samson, the legendary Israelite leader. Now that Trump is president, I want to explore some parallels between certain members of the Republican Party and the “men of Judah” referenced in Judges chapter 15.
But first, let me clarify what the term “Soft Republican” means.
Soft Republicans is a name I coined for people within the GOP, from both the conservative and moderate wings of the party, who refuse to embrace Donald Trump as president. While these individuals may occasionally offer the president praise for something he accomplishes, it is typically reserved only for universally approved actions such as appointing Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, bombing ISIS and pushing tax reform. Many of these Republicans were also members of the coalition that called on Trump to withdraw from the presidential race in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding the Access Hollywood tape.
In short, these Republicans are weak, fickle cowards. When presented with an opportunity to support or attack President Trump, they will almost invariably choose the latter.
In a July tweet, Trump blasted Soft Republicans for “doing very little” to defend him.
It's very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2017
Facing pressure from left-wing radicals who are on a mission to destroy Trump, Soft Republicans and “Never Trumpers” do themselves a disservice by turning on the president whenever it is politically expedient. Ask yourselves, what will happen to these individuals when the Left finishes with Trump and turns its attention back to them? The answer: nothing good.
Which brings us to Samson and the men of Judah.
In Judges 15, starting in verse nine, the Bible says Samson dealt a “great blow” to the Philistines in retaliation for the murder of his wife. After punishing his enemies, Samson went to stay in the “cleft of the rock of Etam.” In the meantime, the Philistine army gathered in Judah and began raiding a place called Lehi. Fearful for their lives, the men of Judah ask the Philistines why they are being attacked. In verse 10, the Philistines responded, “We have come up to bind Samson, to do to him as he did to us.”
The story continues in verse 11.
Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so have I done to them.” And they said to him, “We have come down to bind you, that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines.” And Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not attack me yourselves.” They said to him, “No; we will only bind you and give you into their hands. We will surely not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.
Judges 15:11-13 (ESV)
The men of Judah begin by asking Samson to acknowledge the Philistines’ rule over them. In Judges chapter 13, verse one, it states that “the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.” The men of Judah believed that God had deserted them. Samson’s decision not to answer their first question could indicate that he believed otherwise.
Next, the men of Judah question what Samson did to provoke the Philistines. “What then is this that you have done to us?” they ask him. The men of Judah appear to be blaming Samson for their Philistine oppressors. What about the fact that they had decided to do what was “evil in the sight of the Lord”? To this second question, Samson replies, “As they did to me, so have I done to them.”
Apparently unsatisfied with his response, the men of Judah then proceed to reveal the true nature of their visit. “We have come down to bind you, that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines,” they announce. Samson allows the men of Judah to take him prisoner, but only once they swear not to attack him themselves. “No; we will only bind you and give you into their hands,” they promise him. After vowing not to kill him, the men of Judah lead Samson away from Etam to deliver him to the Philistines.
The story of Samson is one of both folly and triumph. While he would end up escaping from his enemies on this occasion — slaughtering 1,000 Philistines in the process — it’s only one chapter later that we read of his tragic death. His pride may have cost him his life, but his faith led him to call on the Lord before he died.
Samson judged the Israelites for 20 years; however, there is no mention of them honoring his service. All the Bible tells us is that “his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father.” This may have been a recurring pattern because the Israelites showed a similar lack of respect for Gideon, a former judge who saved God’s people from the mighty Midianite armies.
The Bible doesn’t say if the men of Judah repented of their sinful ways in the days of Samson. It also does not mention if the Israelites “cried out” to the Lord for deliverance, as they had in previous times of oppression. The men of Judah seem to have fallen far away from God. Instead of thanking God for sending Samson to be their judge, the men of Judah showed an ungrateful spirit.
In the same way, Soft Republicans would rather see the country fail than Trump succeed. Oftentimes, when Trump makes a mistake, they escalate matters by blowing things out of proportion. Simply put, Soft Republicans have determined that it is better to use the president as a scapegoat than defend him.
These Republicans will pay a heavy price for abandoning President Trump to his enemies. Just like the faithless men of Judah who turned Samson over to the Philistines, Republicans who wish to curry favor from the Left by attacking the president for every mistake he makes are equally disloyal.
Am I advocating for defending the president when he sins? No, of course not. But we must honestly assess the difference between sin and personality traits that don’t align with our personal impression of how a president should act. Remember, in a democratic government we get the leaders we deserve. Trump’s rise to the presidency says a lot about where we are as a society.
Just as God appointed Samson to judge His people, He has also chosen Donald Trump to lead America. It is God’s will that we submit ourselves to divinely appointed civil institutions in civil matters, and in spiritual matters submit to God. Resisting our leaders puts us all at risk of incurring God’s wrath and should prick our conscience. Unless we are ordered to do something that is contrary to God’s will, we should do as Christ commanded those in the first century: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
While Samson was far from a perfect man, God used him to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. From the example of Samson, we see that God uses all kinds of men to accomplish His will.
Donald Trump did not run for office to be our moral leader, moral compass or, frankly, moral anything. He ran to make the United States a more free and prosperous country. It is refreshing to hear our president say that “in America… we worship God.” But we should not place our spiritual hope in President Trump; he is only a man. We should place our spiritual hope in God.
Today, America is at a crossroads. Our country is more divided now than it has been at any point in the last 50 years. There may come a time when national unity is beyond our reach, but today is not that day. Rather than debate the things that further divide us, we should instead focus on the things that unite us — such as God and freedom.
My fear is that we are raising up future generations who do not know what the Lord has done for our country. God has blessed America beyond what it deserves, yet we remain divided over things that happened long ago. Sins of past generations should not define who we are today, nor should they prevent us from living better lives. Trying to erase the sins of the past to conform with our present-day moral virtues will not change history. Instead, we should seek to learn from our history to ensure that we don’t fall into the same trap that doomed those who came before us.