PASTOR’S CORNER, Tyler Prater, Fellowship Baptist Church, Liberal
“And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.” (Judges 16:28-30)
Most people know only fragments about the Old Testament judge Samson – long hair, superhuman strength, seduced by Delilah – but there is so much more worth knowing. Judges 13 introduces Samson through his parents, who were barren but were given a miracle child. An angel essentially announced to Samson’s parents, “You’re going to have a boy, and he’s going to be special. He’s going to belong to Me from the day he is born.” After years of infertility, Samson’s parents were fired up to worship God and do what He commanded. Samson was raised as a Nazarite, a person who took a strict vow to belong totally to God. But sadly—pathetically—Samson’s life did not belong to God; it belonged to Samson. He was a sensual person. Though he grew up under God’s blessing, his attention was drawn to pleasure like a moth to a sizzling bulb. It was only a matter of time before he wandered.
“And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.” (Judges 14:1). He was in the wrong place to scout for a wife. The Philistines were the archenemies of the nation of Israel, a deadly nuisance in the neighborhood. Samson was chosen by God and given supernatural strength to drive the Philistines out. Instead of using his abilities to do the job God assigned him, he used his unusual capacity to satisfy his sensual self.
Samson allowed himself to be controlled by his appetites. Like all sensual wanderers, Samson’s life was out of control. Judges 14–16 details the drama and violence of Samson’s life: his wedding, his fits of rage, his slaughters, his entrapment by the seductress Delilah.
Just as the father had to let go of the prodigal son (Luke 15)—not because he wanted to, but because he had to—so God has certain responses to our deliberate wandering. Some people ultimately have to eat pig food before they find out how bad it tastes. In His mercy, God the Father sometimes lets us wander so we discover the futility of life without Him. How sad that Samson, who was raised to live a life in and for God, lived so far from, yet so close to, the one thing that would have fully satisfied him. Eventually, God released him to his desires, saying in effect, “Is your way better than Mine? You think you have to have that? Then go.”
Samson lost everything before he realized what really mattered. “But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.” (Judges 16:21). At this point in the story, it looks like it’s over for Samson.
Perhaps it seems that way in your life right now. Has the boulder of reality fallen on you? If you’re still breathing, there’s hope. It wasn’t too late for Samson, and it isn’t too late for you. Though Samson’s life had been reduced to grinding in darkness, "Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again.” (Judges 16:22). The symbol of his calling began to return.
Blindness may have been a severe mercy for Samson. As a sensual wanderer, controlled by his eyes and appetites, he could no longer see. Perhaps being shackled at the mill was the best thing that happened to Samson because his feet couldn’t wander after sensuality. In His mercy, God put Samson on lockdown!
Do you recall how Samson’s story ends? God strengthened him once more, and he toppled the pillars of the Philistine house, killing thousands (Judges 16:30). But that’s not all. There’s a jaw-dropping footnote about Samson’s life. Hebrews 11:32 lists him as a man of faith. Samson’s failures didn’t disqualify him from God’s family.
It wasn’t too late for Samson, and it’s not too late for you. You don’t have to resign yourself to the way you are, fearing you’ll never be changed. You can be different—not by your own power but by the power of the Holy Spirit released in you when you surrender to Him.