Lesson Six | Devotion #4: Samson
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor
Separated, Strong, and Stupid.
My great-grandmother lived in a double wide mobile home at the edge of a mobile home park in southern California just a few miles from where I was born and raised. She loved Jesus. She loved my sister and me and she wanted us to love Jesus. We loved to spend the night at her house because there were always donuts and she would read us stories from the Bible. I can still see my sister and I sitting on the floor at her feet as she opened the large print KJV Bible and began to read. We would each choose a story for her to read. Mine was always the story of Samson.
I loved that Samson was strong. I was mesmerized as she read aloud the incredible things that Samson did. He tore a lion in half with his bare hands! He killed a thousand enemies with the jaw bone of a donkey. He picked up the massive gates of a city and carried them in each arm nearly 20 miles! Even at the end of his story, he pushed the pillars of a building apart and brought the entire thing down killing all the leaders of the Philistines. In my six-year-old mind, he was the biblical version of the Incredible Hulk!
As an adult, however, I am less impressed with Samson. I pity him. As a pastor, I have met many people like him. For Samson is an example of someone whose gifting took him further than his character could sustain. His incredible gifting gave him incredible opportunity, but his lack of godly character caused him to squander all that God gave him. He lived a thoroughly sinful and selfish life. He was gifted, but he was no great man.
His story reads like some best-selling novel. Samson was dedicated to the Lord by his parents at his birth. He was called by God to be a judge in Israel. However, trouble soon arises. From marrying the Philistine (an enemy of Israel) woman, to the touching of dead things (and thus ceremonially defiling himself and his parents), to the blatant disregard of the laws of God to which he was supposed to be calling the people of God, he was a mess! On one such occasion after losing a bet, he killed 30 men to pay his debt! Then, in anger and retaliation, we see him burning down the wheat fields (food source) of the Philistines, who then come after him and in turn, he kills a thousand of them with the jawbone of a donkey! We see him sleep with a prostitute and then eventually “shack up” with the infamous Delilah. This woman would eventually be his demise. Oh, and as a side note, he is beyond arrogant, he does not talk to God, and he does not appear to have any actual relationship with God at all.
The end of Samson’s story begins in Judges chapter 16 where we read of Delilah “pestering and nagging” Samson relentlessly. She is using her beauty to try to trick him into revealing the “source” of his strength. This was a secret he had kept from everyone. Make no mistake; this is not a love story. It is a lust story. She uses Samson’s desire to please himself as the way to eventually ruin him. As you read it, you might think that Samson was just too stupid to realize what is going on, but I doubt that is the case. He is stupid, but not because he did not understand what was happening. He knew what she was doing. He just did not think he was ever in any danger at all. He thought he could handle whatever came his way! He believed he was strong! Each time he answered her, his answer got a little closer to the truth. Until finally, when he could not endure her nagging any longer, Samson gave in and told her that the source of his great strength was his long hair, a symbol of his being dedicated to God.
What happens next is perhaps the saddest verse found in the Scriptures. Judges 16:20 says, “So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know the Lord had left him.” There it is. God left him, and he did not even know it! It is sad. Samson’s great mistake was that he thought his gifting was his. He thought that it belonged to him and that he could use it how he wanted. But it was given to him for the glory of God. The same thing is true of you and I. We have each been gifted and called by God. Those gifts have been given to us to bring God glory and to accomplish God’s purposes.
Samson’s story is tragically sad. It is the story of someone who is incredibly gifted, who is even called, but who throws it all away to please himself. May it never be true of us.