The contemporary church today, which is often at the mercy of the world, depends on secular business procedures and the methods of the social sciences to build our churches. This usually comes at the expense of godliness and genuine spirituality and the leadership.
The stories out of the book Judges are ancient, and at one time there may have been more information surrounding the stories until they where compressed for canonization – or previously to the canonization process, who knows. The story of Samson was the last story within the book to describe the downward spiral in leadership that arouse periodically within the tribes of Israel.
The next story after Samson is of a rich Ephraimite that distorts the worship of Yahweh. In the process of things a young Levite comes to be a personal priest for the rich Ephraimite. Some spies within the tribe of Dan comes through the area on their way to scope out some land that the tribe might plunder, and spends the night with the rich Ephraimite. The tribe comes back through the area and basically steals the Ephraimite’s young Levitical priest. This priest establishes the cultic center for the tribe of Dan, in a city called Dan, and this place of worship becomes the foundation for one of the primary worship sites for the Northern Kingdom. The worship of the Northern Kingdom eventually becomes severely apostate.
The sin and success of Dan to some degree goes against the blessing and curse covenant in Deuteronomy. For a while a sinful agenda can succeed. The teaching of this text should teach to Christians that success of a church in its’ various endeavors is not a clear sign that one is right with God. The opposite could be the case. Time and time again God raised up a leader in the tribes during the time of the Judges, but once success came, each time the leader directed the fruits of success toward establishing an easy life for themselves. God is only called upon when things go ill. When things go right, He is forgotten. There is nothing new under the sun.
The young Levite leaves the rich Ephraimite because he is offered an opportunity to be the spiritual overseer of an entire tribe, instead of just a rich hamlet. The problem of a preacher being offered to pastor a small thriving church, or megachurch is not new. When it comes to ambition and opportunity, again, there is nothing new under the sun.
Micah the Ephraimite offers a young Levite to be the spiritual leader of Micah's perverted sense of Yahwehistic worship. Micah offers the young Levite with a nice annual payment plan for his religious service to Micah's own personal shrine to Yahweh. The young Levite is given a whole new wardrobe, and a living allowance. The state of worship in Israel is as such that neither of these parties see the incompatibility of the system of worship they just set up.
Levites had no allotment of land, and they had the monopoly on the priesthood. Micah now assumes that with his arrangement that he will be able to manipulate Yahweh like a Canaanite would try and manipulate his god. The religious system looks a little Yahwehistic, but in actuality it is completely pagan.
On the young Levite's side, he was simply a "laid back" professional minister following the path of least resistance and waiting for an opportunity to open up.
One of the major undergirding themes of Judges is that the book – having been written in the monarchical era – testifies that the tribes of Israel were capable of reprehendable Yahwehistic worship without a King to lead them into that behavior.
Dagon seems to have been a grain god of the Canaanites. It seems that the Philistines assimilated Dagon into their religious system. Dagon was ascribed to being the father of Baal by the Philistines.
As far as we can stretch a statement here, Dagon was also given an ability of military power over the area of which the Philistines resided. Dagon seems to have been risen to a status of being a high (if not the highest) deity by which the Philistines could communicate with, and Dagon was presumed to be the provider for their security and prosperity.
If Samson had minded his P's and Q's, then it would have been the Dannites that were singing praise to Yahweh, instead of the Philistines singing to Dagon, but Samson's hair growing back a little, and God bestowing on him power one last time, Samson destroyed the one's that sang a praise to Dagon.
The main undertone of Judges is the God (Yahweh) was building a nation out of the tribes he started with Jacob. One would like to see the transition into a full cohesive nation faster, but it seems to have taken centuries after Joshua to secure that.
The story of Samson was is really old, and the style of literature is unique and very different than what we encounter today. Samson's kind'a an idiot, spoiled brat maybe, but he winds up killing many of the upper class of the Philistine society - which of course would weaken the cultural group over time, and David eventually put the last nail in the coffin.
God, uses different people to do what He wants done. It seems that if Samson had been more devout throughout his life, that he could have unified the tribes of Israel, but he played the dumb jock through most of the story. The story basically illustrates that God works things towards his objectives despite poor decision making on the part of anyone he decides to specially endow with gifts of one kind or another.
At this point I don't know what comes of the tribes after Samson. It will be interesting to find out. However, I have to take a detour through Ruth. It is weird how Samson seemed to have it easy and takes gifts for granted, while I will see soon Naomi suffer tremendously for no apparent reason. Why one and not the other? Who knows.
Samson always comes off as a himbo (man verision of a bimbo) to me. He was headed down to go get his "Miss Right" the Philistine with his parents, and somehow he got sidetracked from walking with them, and he killed a lion with his bare hands (the lion comes into the story in a major way later on). Samson sounds a lot like David in some respects, but I alway had this dumb Conan the Barbarian image of Samson - David seemed to have more brains with his brawl.