Samson. Oh, Samson. I could call him a doofus, but that is really too mean a word to use. Instead, I will call him, human.
Some of you may know Samson’s story from Judges 13 through 16.
The Lord dedicated Samson to Himself from the womb. He was never to drink any alcohol or even the grains or fruit that make alcohol. He could not touch a dead body or any other unclean thing, and he also could never cut his hair. However, his eyes often superseded his dedication.
He saw honey and ate it, even though it was in the carcass of a lion he had killed with his bare hands. And when he saw a beautiful woman, he just had to have her, even though it was not the will of his parents.
It does not say specifically if Samson drank alcohol, but it can be discerned that he did not live the way of the Nazarite. Numbers 6 outlines the Nazarite vow. If a Nazarite should become unclean for any reason, they were to shave the hair off their head and present an offering before the Lord. However, Samson hid his uncleanness and chose to keep living like nothing had happened. If he had confessed his sins to his parents and to God, then he would have had to shave his head, which would have meant he would lose all his strength. Like so many of us, he was too caught up in the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.
How often do we hold back from surrendering something to God, because we feel like the price would be too high?
Just like every one of us, Samson was a fallen man, and it is not only his fallen nature that we can relate to. Though Samson fell and knowingly disobeyed, yet God blessed him and used him; even going so far as using Samson’s weaknesses to make His glory and strength known. (Judges 14:4)
For so long, Samson refused to acknowledge the God he had been dedicated to since before his birth. He chose to serve the God of his belly, yet God was not limited by Samson’s weaknesses.
To sum up Samson’s tangled life:
He fell for a woman who was not a Jew, ate honey out of a lion’s carcass, was tricked by his wife into revealing the answer to a riddle, killed 30 guys to pay his debt, burned a field in anger, lost his wife to another dude and then she died, killed 1,000 men in vengeance, and then he fell for another woman who was everyone else’s woman. That women deceived Samson and he fell for it again, but the price was greater than 30 changes of clothes. Samson revealed his only weakness. His hair was cut, he was bound, and his enemies plucked out his eyes.
It didn’t hit me until yesterday how that tragic end of Samson’s strength was how he should have been living for all of his life.
He lost his eyes, the same eyes that he followed to the carcass of a lion and into the bed of women. He lost his hair, the hair that gave him confidence in himself when he should have placed his confidence in the God Who gave him strength.
Only when Samson could not see could he finally see how his strength comes from the Lord and how he should have been serving the Lord all along, not himself.
In the Gospels, Jesus said, “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than with two eyes to be thrown into hell fire.” (Matthew 18:8-9)
Of course, that sounds impossibly harsh, but look at it this way. If Samson had just said, “No,” if he had chosen to deny the lust of his eyes (women), the lust of his flesh (food), and the pride of his life (brute strength), then he would not have lost his wife, his eyes, and his strength.
Everyone receives a just reward for what they have done here on earth, and that is a terrifying thought.
The just reward for any sin is hell, eternal separation from God, and unending sorrow… But let’s go back to the story of Samson.
He lost his hair and his sight, but he didn’t lose his life.
During parties and festivals, Samson was drug out of prison to entertain his enemies. At one such party, he asked to be placed next to the foundational pillars of the house. For the second time in Samson’s recorded life, he cried out to the God of his strength and asked to receive that strength once more, and God graciously granted that request. (Judges 15:18) Samson pushed against the pillars with all his might and the house fell in on all of the guests as well as Samson. In Judges 16, it says that, The dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
Samson’s life came to a gruesome end, yet many of his violent acts brought relief and deliverance to the people of God. I don’t know where Samson ended up spending eternity, since I am not God, but I know that God can draw people out of the lowest places to sit at His table. I was one of those people in the lowest of places. If I compare myself to others, I could say that what I’ve done is not “that” bad, and yet comparison does nothing, because I was just as deserving of hell as anyone else. And Jesus, in His mercy and never-ending love, forgave my repentant heart and filled me with His Holy Spirit. I have been washed clean, not because of my own strength or works, but because He is strong in me.
I suppose the greatest lesson I have learned from Samson is to always remember Who my strength comes from and to give glory to the Giver and not satisfaction to myself. For anyone, the hardest lesson to learn is humility and the denying of self and sin. Though it may be the hardest lesson to learn, yet it is the most rewarding, because a life lived in humble obedience to God the Father is a life without shame and regret. I am not saying that there won’t be regrets for past sins, but my Abba has the power to release the hold of sin over a life, and He can even transform regret and shame into grace and hope.
Samson, chosen by God before his birth, chose his way above God’s way, and yet God still used him.
Dear Abba, I pray that I would not be so reluctant to follow You wholeheartedly. Please give me the courage to deny self and sin and live in holiness unto You. May I never cling to what I want and what brings me comfort more than I cling to you. May I be prepared and willing to give even my greatest desires up for the glory of Your name. I am not as strong as I want to be, but I know that You are strong enough. Please strengthen me to fight against temptations and be holy as You are holy. Amen and Amen.
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