It had been a while since I read the story of Samson before studying it for this series. In fact, all I really remembered was his painful relationship with Delilah, who betrayed him into the hands of his enemies. But then I re-read it and I was amazed at all the details and plot twists; it's really a fascinating story. If you need a brush-up, take some time now to read it in Judges 13-16.
Samson was born to a woman who for many years was barren. But then an angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her she had conceived, and provided some guidelines for her and her son. The key rule she had to follow concerned her son, who was to save Israel from the Philistines. She was told to not let a razor touch his head, for he was to be a Nazarite.
Samson was born and did keep this one law for much of his life, although many of the unspoken Nazarite laws he did not. He married a Philistine woman and had sexual relations with women he was not married to. He ate honey from a dead animal, which would have been unclean. I also can't help but pick up a hint of pride and disrespect for his parents. Perhaps his greatest weakness was women; he struggled with lust more than once.
However, God had divinely chosen Samson and His favor was on the man for many years, and indeed used him in many ways. From what we read in the Bible Samson killed 1,030 Philistines before being captured by them. He made such a huge dent that he caught the attention of the Philistine leaders and was pursued by them on multiple occasions.
It's not until he gives into his lust for Delilah that he is captured. I can't help but find it a bit amusing that Samson is easily trapped by women. His wife had done it, and now Delilah would do so. Food for thought: this wouldn't have happened if Samson had married a godly woman from Israel as he should have [just saying to all the singles thinking about trying missionary dating ;)].
Three times Delilah asks Samson what his weakness is, and three times he lies. Three times the Philistines rush in to capture Samson and he prevails over them. You think at this point Samson would in the least not tell Delilah his true source of strength, if not dumping her altogether. But he doesn't, and at the fourth ask he does tell her that his strength is in his hair. At that, she cuts his hair when he's sleeping and the Philistines capture him. The great Samson is blinded, mocked, and left to the status of a prisoner. All because of his lust for women and lack of obedience.
His hair begins to grow back and at a party with thousands of the most powerful Philistines, he prays to God for strength one final time to bring the building down in a final blow to Israel's enemies. I'm so moved by his prayer because it's the most humble and God-focused prayer he utters. Having been stripped from it all--physical strength, freedom, sight, pleasure, pride--Samson finally finds a strength he had always lacked.
Samson's epic fail was a thirst for the things of this world, fulfilling lust, and not learning from his past mistakes. His story shows us that pursuing these things will only bring us down and hurt us. That refusing to learn from our past will be our fall. Take cues from your pitfalls and draw boundaries that will protect you from repeating the past.
I'm thankful to see that Samson finished strong; he connected with God and went out victoriously. Even though he didn't steward his gift well, God still graciously blessed him for His purposes and in the end, used him greater than ever before. With his final breath, Samson killed more Philistines than he had in his whole life up to that moment.
- Are you facing a temptation you've given into before? WHat is it and how can you set boundaries to avoid giving in again?