Today’s reading includes Judges 15:1-16:31, John 2:1-25, Psalm 103:1-22, Proverbs 14:17-19.
Our reading today wraps up the dramatic story of Samson. What a character he was! I am a rule- follower by nature. Samson was not. He was set apart to do great things for God before he was even born. As we learned yesterday, part of his purpose was to “begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.” Yet, as we read through his story, it appears at times that he didn’t get the memo. He not only associated with the Philistines, he even married one of them. That turned out very badly. In anger, he left for a while and when he returned, his wife had been given to his best man. And this was only one of the episodes of drama in the life of Samson. He often appears arrogant, boastful, prideful, and wild. There are times in the story where he flies off the handle and starts killing in revenge. These are the times he got himself into great messes. At one point, even his brothers, the men of Judah, turned him in to the Philistines. But he escaped, and arrogantly boasted of his triumph with the jawbone of a donkey.
There are also times in the story we see that the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he had great strength to defeat his enemies. But even then, he seemed to take credit for his victory. He actually said to God, “You have accomplished this great victory by the strength of your servant…” (Judges 15:18) As if God needed Samson’s strength to accomplish anything!
And yet, don’t we do the same? We may not use boastful words, but our hearts believe the lie that God needs us. He doesn’t need us. He wants us. He wants relationship with us, and He wants to use us. But He doesn’t need to use us. Why is this important to realize? Because when we realize this, we don’t take credit for what He does through us. Instead, we humbly point to the One who is the source of all strength and victory, and we give Him all the credit and glory.
We see that until the end of his life, Samson lived wildly. His relationship with the Delilah was once again a disaster. After she tricked and enticed him, he finally told her the secret of his strength. Only his words to her were not totally accurate.
17 Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. “My hair has never been cut,” he confessed, “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.”
What was inaccurate about his statement? He believed his strength was in his hair, but his strength was from God. His long hair was merely a symbol of God’s strength and power upon him. His strength left him, not because his hair was cut, but because when the symbol of his dedication to the Lord was removed, God’s strength left him. This subtle difference of words, made all the difference in the situation. There are other examples of Nazarites in the Bible, but none other are remembered for their long hair, though they too did not cut theirs.
When Samson was finally weak, then he became strong. When Samson lost his physical sight, then his spiritual eyes were opened. At last, he saw the truth about his strength. It was from God and it was to be used for the glory of God.
28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time….
This time, Samson acknowledged from where his strength came, and asked God to give him strength one last time. And with the strength from God, Samson was able to defeat more of his enemies in his death, than he ever did in his life. And now, he truly reflected the mighty One to come—the One who would defeat our great enemy through His death and resurrection.
In the end, this wild and reckless judge, did indeed begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines. And in this final act of trusting in the strength of God and not his own, he made a godly name for himself. In fact, he is listed in the faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11.
32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.
Yes, finally in death, Samson’s weakness was turned to strength.
On a practical note, where does your strength lie? Do you trust in yourself, your abilities, your charm, your own strength? Or do you trust in the One who gives you the abilities, charm, and strength. Do you trust in God or you? Let’s learn a lesson from Samson, and let God turn our weakness to strength—His strength, not ours.