Hope in the Story of Samson

If you’ve ever heard the saying, “If you can’t fight ’em, join ’em,” you know there is definitely some truth to that statement!  Some things in life seem certain, or inevitable, and sometimes the best course of action is to make the most of it.  If you can’t fight ’em, join ’em.  I was struck by the truth of this as our church studied the story of Samson, found in the book of Judges 13-16.

Samson was a miracle baby born to an infertile mom, a true gift of God.  From birth, he was set apart to a special Nazarite vow to God, and he never cut his hair as a symbol of God’s presence with him.  God called Samson to be a deliverer of Israel who would begin to rescue them from the Philistines, and God equipped Samson with superhuman strength to accomplish this calling.  At one point, Samson by himself killed a thousand Philistine soldiers using a donkey’s jawbone as a weapon!

In spite of all those positives, Samson was a train wreck.  His big weakness was women, and time after time he found himself in hot water because of an illicit relationship.  The most famous of these women is Delilah, who seduced Samson into telling her the secret of his great strength, namely that God was with him as symbolized by his hair, and then she had his head shaved while he slept.  God’s presence withdrew from Samson, and God’s strength also left him.  When the Philistines came to capture Samson, he was as weak as any other man.  They took him, gouged out his eyes, and put him in prison.

At the end of Samson’s life, the Philistines were having a big worship feast in the temple of their god, Dagon, and they called Samson out of prison to come entertain them.  What they didn’t know is that God’s presence had returned to Samson with even greater strength.  He pushed two keystone pillars down and caused the whole building to collapse, killing several thousand people inside, including himself.

This is a sad ending to a sad story of a rather sad and pathetic man.  The irony of Samson’s story is that he was so incredibly strong, and yet so incredibly weak.  His lust led him into many dangerous situations and finally his sin caught up to him in the end and cost his freedom, his sight, and ultimately his life.  However, Samson’s story should actually give us hope.  What?!?  How’s that?

In spite of Samson’s problems (aka sin), God still accomplished His purpose for Samson’s life.  Before Samson was born, God told his mom that she would have a son who would “begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5).  That is exactly what happened at the end of Samson’s life, when he pushed down the pillars and killed all the rulers of the Philistines.  What this shows us is that God will not fail to accomplish His purpose.  God’s will is inevitable, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

God will accomplish His plan in spite of us.  We can’t sin big enough to screw up God’s purpose.  We can’t throw God’s plan off-track anymore than we can stand before an oncoming train and derail it.  You can fight against God all you want, but in the end every knee will bow at the name of Jesus and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:8-11).

Samson’s story gives us hope because no matter what mistakes you’ve made in the past, God will still accomplish His purpose in your life.  You haven’t derailed God’s plan, and as long as you live and breathe there is time for you to join God.  Let’s be honest, we can’t fight Him, so why not join Him?  Jesus came so that we could “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  He gives joy in the midst of sorrow, peace in the midst of pain, light in the midst of darkness, and hope where none existed before.

Ultimately, God’s kingdom will be done on earth as it is in heaven, so rather than choosing to run away from God, choose to run to Him.  Rather than choosing to ignore Him, choose to follow His way.  Rather than choosing to sin and choosing to suffer, choose to surrender and choose eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

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