“…She called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. Then she called, ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon you!’ He awoke from his sleep and thought, ‘I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had left him. Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison.” – Judges 16:19-21
How often have you heard sayings like “Experience is the best teacher” and “It’s important to learn from your mistakes?” Less often do we hear, “It’s important to learn from other people’s mistakes,” although this path to learning can be extremely valuable. The Bible, particularly the Hebrew Scriptures (OT), has many stories purposefully placed for our benefit. We are to learn from them, but not necessarily repeat them. The Samson narrative is one of these. Set apart for a holy purpose before he was born, Samson was blessed with the supernatural gift of strength for the benefit of his people and for the glory of GOD. He used it to do mighty and astounding works.
One truth borne out of both anecdote and empirical study is that sometimes our greatest strength proves to be our greatest area of vulnerability and weakness. Samson was so far ahead of all others in physical ability that he lacked humility and failed to really recognize the source of his strength. This egoism made it easier for him to allow his appetites to control him rather than him controlling his appetites. And when he needed to be most teachable, he was not. Samson lacked the spiritual vision (insight) that should have accompanied his great physical strength. He never really demonstrated that he had “eyes to see” (Ezekiel 12:2). His lack of insight led to the loss of both his strength and his (physical) sight.
If you’ve been reading any of my previous posts, you know that I believe that the biblical standard for a healthy relationship with GOD is covenantal, that is intimate, permanent, and in full awareness of and response to (as much as humanly possible) the majesty of GOD and extraordinary work of grace extending to us through the blood of the Lamb, His sacrifice, His death, His resurrection and His ascension. Jesus is LORD in my book, and everything I am and can be, I owe to Him. My greatest purpose is to serve GOD after the model of Jesus, using the gifts and strengths given to me by His Spirit for that very reason. All else is vanity. Really, it is!
I don’t want to lose sight of this…and it is so easy to do. I don’t want this truth to be obscured by the things going on around me or whatever is going on in me…and it is so easy to do. I don’t want to become enamored by whatever it is I “bring to the table” with the grossly mistaken impression that I am my own source. That kind of attitude might result in “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Nah, I pass. I’d rather be ruled by the GOD who loves me and who gave Himself for me. I know that whenever I forget this, my strength bears no fruit and, while having eyes, I cannot see. This only brings joy to my enemy, like Samson’s failure brought joy to the Philistines.
I’m grateful that GOD is gracious and forgiving, even giving Samson one last victory. But how many more could he have had if his perspective had been different? Thanks for the lesson, Samson, I’ll try to keep learning from it.
“I love you, LORD, my source of strength!” – David, Psalm 18:1 (NET Bible)
© Byron L. Hannon, 2018. All rights reserved for text content.