Samson is one of those stories we often over-look, it is a bit of an uncomfortable read to the 21st Century audience (actually the whole of the book of judges has some challenging bit in it (Judges 13.1 – 16:30).
Samson, is a guy whose birth is foretold (like Samuel, John the Baptist and Jesus)
He is a man of great gifting and anointing, filled with the holy Spirit from birth, a person of charisma and with clear leadership skill.
He is successful as a warrior leader, scaring off the enemies of the people of Israel (at least for the first part of the story at least).
I think Samson probably set out like most of us with good intentions of being a good judge, but we seem him drift through out the story.
Interestingly when I did my discertation into ‘backsliding’ for my degree, very few made a conscious choice to make a ‘reversal in Christian Commitment’ but just drifted away from God inch by inch, degree by degree until they realized just how far they had got.
Often it was these small sin holds that didn’t seem too bad, after all everyone struggles with stuff right? The flaws in our character, often end up being our Achilles heel, that let us down and shipwreck us, yet we can gloss over these with our gifting.
Yet Samson shows us that gifting and character are two different things.
Samson takes his anointing from God for granted, and is reckless with the gifts God has entrusted too him.
A while ago people used to wear those WWJD bracelets –what would Jesus do? (Or We Want Jam Donuts!) Yet later their became a bracelet with the words “FROG” on them, which stood for Fully Reliant On God, you see actually Samson fell for the lie that he was an independent individual, where as actually all of us are totally dependent on God, in fact every breath we take is actually a gift from him.
Samson’s problem is that his ego, Edged God Out, he didn’t realize the depth of his reliance on God, and we see no evidence of Samson being grateful to God for his gracious provision bailing him out time and time again.
In fact we see him flirting with danger, getting closer and closer to revealing his secret to his wife Delilah, until eventually the inevitable happens (Judges 16.17).
I think one of the big dangers the Church has is we flirt too often with secularism, we try and be just like the world, and then wonder why we fall in and end up loosing the power of our Christian distinctiveness.
There are lesson here about wisdom, about good and wise council, but mainly about wisdom… but primarily I think this story teaches us not to put ourselves in the way of temptation.
A guy I know well was struggling with keeping his mind pure, especially on his own in his flat on an evening with the internet beckoning him towards the gutter… So, he and disconnected his internet.
Pride comes before a fall, yet wisdom puts in safeguards.
We need to acknowledge before God our weakness and ask his help.
Believing we are invulnerable and invincible is foolish, but we can fool for it easily when we forget our dependence on our God.
There are many in the Bible who ‘come to their senses’; Jonah sees sense from the Whales belly and the prodigal son ‘has a light bulb moment in the pigs field’ and Samson when he is a blind slave and a prisoner of his enemies, realizes his need of God and the call on his life which he seems to have largely ignored.
And in his last moments, with his hair somewhat re-grown, he pushes down the pillars of the temple and destroys the enemies of the Lord and his people.
When he is at his lowest, he is used most. His death achieved more than his life.
I don’t think it is heresy to think Samson as a life largely of squandered potential, somebody who had gifts, talents, anointing and talents but (like the story Jesus told) didn’t use them.
What of us? God has equipped us, given us by his spirit unlimited potential for transformation, we have the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead active in our lives, yet so many in our Churches are spirit filled, yet squander their God-given potential and their gifting is never fully utilized for the purpose God intended, God is calling but they are (like Samson) pursuing other agendas, dreams and visions.
Where are we in this story?
Are we the young idealist that needs to sort our baggage out? Bringing things into the gracious and loving light of Christ.
Perhaps we got confused gifting with character?
Do we realize the gifts and anointing God has given us? Are we grateful to him? Are we using them for his glory, or our own?
Do we realize his potential in us?
If so are we using our potential, or squandering it?
How seriously do we take our obedience to God?
Do we think it is all about us? Or do we realize it is all about God?
Do we think we are invincible and immune to the devil getting a foothold in our life
Do we flee sin (as Paul urges Timothy to do) or do we flirt with it
Do we think of ourselves as self made and independent? Or do we realize we are Fully Reliant On God?
And what happens when it all comes crashing down, do we roll over and give up, or do we like (Samson) seize the moment, even in the 11th hour, and seek to bring glory to God.
Amazingly despite a life of messing it up and getting it wrong, Samson’s name is proudly listen amongst the other heroes of faith in Hebews 11.
He stumbled and fell along the race, but he finished well.
What of us, how will we finish the race?