The Faith of Samson

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, January 28, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

I used to be a pastor at a small rural church in Ohio for about three years. During the course of my time there, we never had a true worship leader or music team as some churches are accustomed to having. However, that didn’t stop us from worshipping the Lord. When I first got there, a friend of mine who had experience with drums but did not see himself as a singer was actually the one to get up on stage each week and lead the congregation in singing worship songs off the computer. Eventually, my wife, who has an amazing voice, was willing to takeover the singing duties each week. When she wasn’t there, however, myself and my friend who had led in the past occasionally led worship together. It was the first, and ONLY, church where I was able to sing on the worship team. God made me a lot of things, but a singer isn’t one of them. Yet, I learned a valuable lesson from that experience, and my friend who viewed me as his pastor and mentor actually set the example for me. We joked that neither one of us could carry a tune in a bucket, but together we sounded much better than individually. It was a good lesson in teamwork, but the bigger lesson for me was that God uses even our weaknesses.

Most of us know our own strengths. We are aware of our weaknesses, but rarely talk or even think about them. We’re so focused on what WE are able to do that we rarely stop to think about what GOD is able to do when our ability just isn’t there. As we continue to look at the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 in order, we come to a man who was quite possibly one of the strongest men who ever lived. But, despite that overwhelming strength, he was commended for his faith in God that he showed when he was weakest in the physical sense. In Hebrews 11:32-34, one of the names mentioned is Samson, and the description of what was accomplished by faith that most clearly fits his life is “weakness was turned to strength." As with all the other heroes, we must look back to learn and find hope for the future.

The full story of Samson can be found in Judges 13-16 and I encourage you to read the whole thing. I’ll touch on certain parts of it so we can understand his weakness and his faith. Because Israel was still going back and forth from following God to doing evil in his eyes, God allowed them to be overtaken by one of the most notable enemies of the Israelites in the Old Testament - the dreaded Philistines. We see that before Samson was even born, an angel appeared to his mom and explained that she would have a child who would “take the lead” in delivering his people from the hand of the Philistines (Judges 13:5). What’s interesting is that it doesn’t say he will be THE deliverer. He will start the process, but there’s almost this understanding from the very beginning that he will not complete it. This shows both God’s omniscience (he knew the sins Samson would commit and their ultimate consequences) and his omnipotence (despite Samson’s failures, God was able to use others to complete the deliverance). The circumstances of Samson’s birth, how he would be raised, and his parents’ knowledge of God suggest that Samson had a great spiritual foundation on which to build his faith.

If we can learn anything from Samson’s life, it might be that a great spiritual foundation alone does not make one faithful. Each person is responsible for his or her own choices. Even when we seemingly have all the advantages, we should remember, like the old Progressive commercial says, to “be careful, because that kind of power can go to your head." Samson’s actions as an adult reveal that he may have thought he was invincible. He marries a Philistine woman in Judges 14 and even when his parents try to remind him that it’s unacceptable, he simply says, “She’s the right one for me." While God was certainly using this situation for his ultimate purpose of confronting the enemy of Israel (v. 4), that doesn’t excuse Samson’s giving into temptation. But let me stop and address that for a minute. Why would God need to confront the Philistines himself? Apparently, there was no one in all of Israel who was willing to do it. Samson was supposed to lead that charge and instead married one of their women. It seems like he kind of went the other way on that one!

It’s no wonder that Samson was basically comfortable in his sin and figured he could walk outside of God’s commands and still receive his blessings. The entire nation and culture was doing it! With Israel’s previous enemies who ruled over them, there was ruthless oppression and forced labor, but we don’t read of that with the Philistines. It’s like everyone was accepting of the status quo, which was the people of God living together with the unbelievers, but the unbelieving culture was ruling over everyone and the people of God were comfortable with it. Does this remind you of any particular culture or nation? God is always looking for a leader who is willing to lovingly confront and challenge a culture that desperately wants to drag people away from him and enslave them. We cannot let ourselves remain comfortable with our sin!

In the chapters that follow in the Book of Judges, you can see how Samson’s comfort with his sin leads him down a path of destruction. He breaks every part of the Nazirite vow that his mother had taken for him before he was born, gets drunk, gambles, deals with a nagging wife who ultimately sides with her own people the Philistines against him, calls her a heifer, kills a bunch of people in order to pay his gambling debt, and feels justified and invincible through it all. His own people hand him over to the Philistines, but he is able to break loose and kill a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. This only strokes his ego and feeling of invincibility even more, so he forgets that his mighty strength comes from the Lord. He ends up in a sinful relationship with pagan woman named Delilah. He is infatuated with her, so she plans to use that against him. She seduces him to the point where she is able to tie him up and let the Philistines take him captive. He seems to enjoy the seductive games she is playing, probably because he feels nothing and no one can defeat him. But Judges 16:20-21 tells us that his sins eventually catch up to him as the strength that God had given him is taken away and he ends up being captured by the Philistines, who gouge out his eyes, bind him in shackles, and take him to their prison.

This seems like the lowest of lows for the man God called to deliver his people from the Philistines. Not only did he not do that, he now finds himself without eyes and totally at the mercy of the enemy he was born to defeat. They force the imprisoned Samson to perform for them at their parties. He is a laughing stock and a total failure in the eyes of many. But it is precisely in that moment of his blindness, submission, and total weakness that he remembers that God had given him all the gifts he had in the first place. He remembers that while his circumstances had changed, God was still God. As he is placed between the pillars at the Philistine temple, where thousands of people are gathered, he cries out to God and asks for the strength to be returned to him just one last time so he can kill many Philistines in his final breath. God grants him this dying wish and gives him enough strength in that moment to bring down the entire temple and kill thousands of people who worshipped pagan gods (Judges 16:23-30).

Samson could’ve just focused on all his failures and basically quit life. But in his biggest moment of weakness and despair, he chose to focus on what GOD could do rather than what HE could not do. If you have fallen into sin and the consequences have weakened you, or if you simply sense that you don’t have what it takes to accomplish a task God has given you, know that GOD alone has all the strength you need. If you put your faith in his ability over your own, you will accomplish great things even in weakness!

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