MONDAY, MAY 7
SCRIPTURE: JUDGES 16
This chapter brings to a close the story of Samson. It is a most interesting story that has been told and retold. There are lessons in it for all of us.
As the chapter opens, he is still demonstrating his great strength. This time he pulled up the city gate – posts, bars, and chains – and carried them away. Of course he did that after spending time with a prostitute. The fact that the Bible mentions this is not permission to do the same. It is simply a statement of fact. The Bible often tells truth that is not necessarily good truth but it is, nevertheless truth.
The chapter then moves to the story of Delilah. Verse 4 tells us that Samson loved this woman. But either for money of from fear of being killed herself, Delilah made a pact to destroy Samson. I have often wondered why he continued to stay with her after her multiple and obvious attempts to discover the source of his strength. You would think that after a couple of times, Samson would have gotten the message and went on his way. But there is something about sin and temptation that causes us to think that we are in control, that we can do what we want when we want and stop when we want with no one getting hurt. There is something about sin and temptation that often just gradually takes control of us until we find ourselves trapped in it and quite unable to escape.
In many ways that is what happened to Samson. He finally gave up his “secret”. It is important to realize that his strength was not in his hair. His strength was in his relationship with God. The long hair was simply an outward symbol of that – it was part of the Nazirite vow. The cutting of his hair, then, was symbolic of breaking his relationship with God.
Samson was horribly mistreated. He was blinded. He was forced to grind at the mill like an animal. He was humiliated. He was isolated. But while all of that was going on, his hair started growing. Again, his strength was not in his hair. The regrowth of his hair must be symbolic of the renewal of his relationship with God. It is easy to imagine that as Samson walked in the circle of that mill hour after hour and day after day, he had more than enough to time to talk with God. And somewhere in that their relationship must have been restored.
As the chapter closes, Samson’s strength is returned and in one great act of martyrdom, he destroys more Philistines than he had killed during his life.
There is much we can learn from Samson. But there is not much we should emulate. It is interesting, however, that Samson is listed by name in Hebrews 11 which is the great Hall of Faith in the Bible. So, obviously, Samson was a man of faith who acted in faith at least part of his life.
As we leave his story, we should have at least a couple of takeaways. One, we should be people of faith who act in faith. Two, we should never think that we are in control of our sin. Our sin always controls us. Three, we should never think it is safe to play with temptation but we should always look for the way of escape that God always provides. Four, we should rejoice that God is more than able to use very imperfect people like Samson and like us to accomplish His great purpose.