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Paul Tautges Christian Blog and Commentary

Paul Tautges

Paul Tautges serves as senior pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, having previously pastored for 22 years in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Paul has authored eight books including Counseling One Another, Brass Heavens, and Comfort the Grieving, and contributed chapters to two volumes produced by the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is also the consulting editor of the LifeLine Mini-Book series from Shepherd Press. Paul is a Fellow with ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors). He and his wife, Karen, are the parents of ten children (three married), and have two grandchildren. Paul enjoys writing as a means of cultivating discipleship among believers and, therefore, blogs regularly at Counseling One Another.

One way of learning how to do something is by watching someone else do it poorly. When I swam in triathlons, I had a friend who worked out in the same pool. In his freestyle stroke, he had a habit of putting his hand in the water too far toward the centerline of his body, turning his body slightly sideways. Therefore, instead of gliding through the water, he snow-plowed the water in front of him. I learned a lot by watching him: I learned how not to swim. His mistake helped me correct a similar error in my own stroke.

Perhaps we can use that same approach as we consider how Samson went about finding a wife. I once heard a dating talk entitled “the dos and don’ts of Dating.” Unfortunately, in chapters 14–16 of the book of Judges, we find only the don’ts of dating. There are no dos in Samson’s story. He did everything wrongly.

…then Samson went down to Timnah and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. so he came back and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” (Judges 14:1–2)


Samson had seen girls before, but this one was a real knockout. So much so, he immediately decided he wanted to marry her. What’s wrong with that? Boy meets girl. Boy flips his lid. Boy asks girl to marry him. Love at first sight … how romantic! What was wrong with Samson’s approach to dating? Everything. Specifically, he made three disastrous mistakes.

  • Don’t #1 – Samson was visiting Timnah and saw “one of the daughters of the Philistines.” What was the problem with that? Just this: Israel had been commanded by God not to marry the daughters of the idolatrous, demon-worshipping peoples around them (Deuteronomy 7:3–4). It was a wise command. God didn’t want his people being led astray by the idol worship and occult practices of the Canaanites, the Philistines, and others. In other words, Samson had no business going to Timnah with a roving eye. Every girl there was off-limits. Unfortunately, Samson never learned his lesson. If it wasn’t a sweetheart in Timnah, it was a prostitute in Gaza (Judges 16:1), and when he grew tired of her, he pursued yet another Philistine lover, the delectable Delilah (16:4). The land of the Philistines was the home of a wicked and immoral people, and every time Samson went there, his lust pulled him into another disastrous relationship.
  • Don’t #2 – Besides looking for love in all the wrong places, Samson had another major problem in his approach to dating. How did Samson determine that a girl would be a good partner? “I saw a woman in Timnah” (Judges 14:2, emphasis added). Samson’s measure of a woman was her profile. Always the human hormone, Samson thought only of sex appeal when he searched for a wife. Her faith and her character were inconsequential. If the curve of her face and the cut of her hair were right, then it was full steam ahead.
  • Don’t #3Scripture continues…then his father and his mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me” (Judges 14:3). Proverbs says, foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15). Certainly that was true of Samson. His parents tried to warn him. They strongly encouraged him to reconsider his course of action. Samson’s response? “Dad, Mom, you’re idiots. I know better than you do.” Blinded by infatuation, Samson rejected his parents’ counsel. In so doing, he steamrolled right over one of god’s most important lines of defense protecting us against foolish decisions.


You probably know the rest of the story. Before the wedding feast was over, Samson’s beautiful bride had manipulated and betrayed him. She nagged and whined out of him the answer to the riddle he had invented to stump her wedding guests (Judges 14:16–17). Samson left the wedding in a fury and stormed out of town. Eventually, after several bouts of revenge and counter-revenge between Samson and his wife’s friends, Judges 15:8 tells us that Samson ended up living in a cave like an outlaw.

His self-styled approach to dating didn’t bring him the happiness and pleasure he thought it would. It brought only manipulation, distrust, faithlessness, in-law squabbles, anger, vengeance, and loneliness. Samson was forever putting himself in situations where he could become emotionally and physically involved with an unbeliever. And, inevitably, he did. He also measured a prospective companion only by her physical attractiveness rather than by her love for God. And when his parents tried to shine the light of wisdom on his bad decision, he turned a blind eye to their counsel. Those are three classic blunders, and Samson made them all.

[This blog post is excerpted from HELP! I’m Confused about Dating a mini-book by Joel James, a pastor in South Africa.]

Last week, I was blessed to teach a two-hour seminar in our church’s discipleship counseling training center on the subject of depression. First, I shared my own personal experience with depression and anxiety, and then drew attention to the experiences of people in the Bible. Together, we noticed how they were tested, worked through their times of distress and despair, and how they reached out to the Lord for help. One student asked for a list of questions which might be helpful to ask the person who is struggling with depression. What a great question! Consequently, I reached out to our church’s team of counselors. Here’s what we came up with, but, as you will quickly realize, the questions are applicable to a multitude of struggles beyond depression.

  1. What do you mean when you say you are depressed?
  2. How long have you felt depressed?
  3. Have you ever felt like this before? If so, when?
  4. Why do you think you are depressed?
  5. Have you recently suffered loss in any form (E.g. death of a loved one, loss of employment, financial setback, decline in health)?
  6. Have you recently received bad news of some sort that you are having a hard time accepting?
  7. Is there a relationship with someone that is breaking down, disappointing you, or coming to an end? Are you under spiritual attack?
  8. What has changed in your life recently that might be making you feel depressed?
  9. When was the last time you had a complete physical check-up with your family physician?
  10. Are you currently receiving any form of treatment for depression?
  11. How often do you exercise? For how long?
  12. How do you think God fits into all of this?
  13. Has God been teaching you anything about yourself or your circumstances?
  14. What do you think God might want to teach you while you walk through this valley? How might He want to help your faith grow stronger?
  15. What have you done to try to deal with your depressed feelings?
  16. What have you done to try to deal with your difficult circumstances?
  17. What do you think would make things better?
  18. What are you thinking about when you awake first thing in the morning?
  19. Can you tell me anything that encouraged you recently from a sermon at church?
  20. What two words would you use to describe your prayer life?
  21. Is there any ongoing or unresolved conflict in your life? If so, have you done all that is in your power to resolve it?
  22. Sometimes depression is related to anger. Do you think you are perhaps angry at God for taking something or someone away from you?
  23. Often depression is a brother to anxiety. Is there anything in particular that you are worried about?
  24. Do you feel badly about something you did in the past, or something done to you?
  25. Is there anything you have done that is causing you to feel ashamed?
  26. What is one thing you really want to get out of life? Do you think you are currently getting this?
  27. Is there any person in your life whom you feel you will never be able to please?
  28. Is there anything or anyone you believe you could never live without?
  29. Are there habits you practice to make yourself feel better, but then realize later that it did not last? For example, do you eat in excess when you are depressed?
  30. What kind of music do you listen to? Does it encourage your soul? Does it direct your heart to hope in God?
  31. Are there unfinished tasks weighing on your mind? How do you spend your free time?
  32. Is there any area of your life where you are disobeying God? Is there sin you are cherishing or refusing to confess?
  33. Is your depression affecting you physically?
  34. How many hours a day do you sleep?
  35. Is there anything that keeps you awake at night?
  36. Do you have a trustworthy friend to talk openly with about the things that bother you?
  37. Do you read the Bible regularly? Is there a Bible verse that has recently encouraged you?
  38. Would you consider yourself a perfectionist? Is there a failed expectation you cannot accept?
  39. Are you over-committed? Have you over-extended yourself financially, at work, at church?
  40. Do you ever feel like a failure? Why? Is there a goal that you have failed to meet?

A foolish person jumps to conclusions before trying hard to understand a person's situation. But Proverbs 20:5 teaches us the importance of seeking understanding: “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” Remember, an accusation often hardens the will leading to resistance, but a question often stirs the heart leading to understanding.

Additional Resources on Depression & Spiritual Discouragement

[This post was originally published at Counseling One Another.]

Are you discontent with the spiritual progress you are making in your walk with Jesus Christ? Have you ever felt ill-equipped to minister the grace and truth of Jesus to others who are experiencing life’s various challenges? Would you like to experience personal growth and be trained to help others grow as disciples of Christ? Then this announcement is for you.

If you live or serve in the Cleveland area, you should consider receiving training in biblical counseling provided by Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights. We believe the Bible is inspired by God and is sufficient to instruct us in living a life that glorifies the Savior, which includes working through our personal and relationship problems.

This training course, Fundamentals of Biblical Counseling, will challenge you personally to grow in your spiritual walk, and it will equip you to minister God’s life-changing Word more effectively to those who are looking for answers. It will help any Christian to be more effective in discipling others in overcoming life’s problems. It will lay the foundation of biblical counseling principles and practices, of marriage and family relationships, and problems frequently encountered in counseling cases. And, for those who are interested in pursuing certification in biblical counseling, it will also meet the Basic Training Course Requirement for Phase One in the certification process through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

The mission of Cornerstone Community Church is to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus Christ, and offers this training at no cost. [Note: you will be required to purchase your own textbooks.] Training classes begin on Tuesday evenings in September. For more information and to register, click here.