God sure uses strange people at times to do His will. Samson is one of those people.
In all, Samson judged Israel for 20 years (Jdg 15:20; 16:31). The story of his life is incredible. It is filled with adventure, action, love, deceit, trickery, anger, and violence. I’m kind of surprised it is not in the movie theatres at the moment or on Netflix…
An Amazing Start
Samson’s story begins before he was born. His father Manoah and his mother had no children. They obviously wanted kids, but had none. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and explains that they would have a son. I imagine that they were beside themselves with excitement! Not only were they going to have a son, but he was going to be something special! Not every pregnancy begins with the announcement that a baby is on the way, but theirs did!
Special instructions were given to Manoah and his wife:
First, the mother was not to drink wine or similar drink and she was not to eat anything unclean (13:4).
Second, the boy was to have no razor come upon his head.
Third, the boy was to be a Nazirite (one separated to God) from the womb (13:5)
Fourth, the boy was going to be used by God to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines (13:5).
Fifth, the parents were explicitly given the above instructions and told to carefully observe them (13:14). Side note…but this also shows the importance of doing what God tells us, and not adding to or taking away from His word…
A Strong-Willed Child
Once the boy, Samson, was born and as he grew, he was blessed by God (13:24). He was a strong man, but also strong-willed. Maybe it was because he was coddled by his parents. Maybe they doted on him because he was going to do special things when he grew up. However it happened, it seems that Samson was indeed strong-willed as well as strong in physical strength.
Samson overpowered his parents
He wanted to marry a woman from the Philistines (14:1). He begged his parents for this woman’s hand in marriage and ignored their advice to marry someone from their own people (14:2, 3). In essence, he threw an adult fit and said, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well” (14:3). His parents gave in and did what he asked, even though it was not what they wanted.
Samson overpowered a lion
Samson was a man with incredible strength. After going with his parents to arrange his marriage to a Philistine woman, he was attacked by a lion. He killed the lion with ease (14:5, 6). His family went back home and began preparations for the wedding and Samson later went to visit his fiancé. On his way, he saw the lion’s carcass, but it wasn’t just a rotting carcass, it had bees and honey inside. Ignoring the command to eat nothing unclean, Samson ate honey and then brought some of it and gave it to his parents and they ate, making all involved defiled from eating unclean food (14:8, 9).
Samson’s incredible strength made him too proud and confident for his own good. He overpowered his parents, ignored their wishes and wisdom, and drunk with his own power and strength defiled himself for a sweet taste of honey.
A Smart Riddle
Samson is well-known for the riddle he proposes to the 30 people from the Philistine clan his wife was from. Feeling proud of himself, Samson challenges 30 men to a bet: figure out my riddle and win a change of clothes…lose the bet and pay me a change of clothes. Feeling rather wise, the 30 Philistines take the bet, and the game was afoot.
Unable to figure out the answer to the riddle, the Philistines apply pressure to Samson’s Philistine bride: get the answer to the riddle for us, or you’re dead (14:15). Familiar with the Philistine tactic of applying pressure to get what you want, Samson’s bride used the equivalent of Kryptonite against Superman: she cried (14:16). Oh, the crushing weight of seeing those tears! Samson was a sucker for a woman’s wiles, something that plagued him his whole life (14:16, 16:13-15). He told the answer to the riddle to his bride, lost the bet, and had to deliver 30 changes of clothes. He did this by killing 30 Philistine men and giving their clothes to the winners of the bet.
A Sad Ending
The end of Samson's life is a sad one. He was betrayed by another woman, arrested, had his eyes plucked out, and made to do humiliating work as a prisoner. The Philistines made him perform like a lion at the circus just for their entertainment (16:25). Weary from the performance, he used this as an opportunity to lean on some pillars supporting the temple where the show was being held. Using this as his last hurrah, he pushed down the pillars, killing himself and 3,000 others. Suicide is always a sad ending, especially to Samson’s incredible life. It is never part of God’s plan, which just shows that Samson was acting selfishly instead of seeking what God wanted him to do.
In the end, he preferred to “get even” and be a lone-wolf attacker. No doubt Hollywood will one day make a movie of this incredible story. Until then, I’ll just read about it in my Bible in Judges 13-16 and marvel at this imperfect man whom God was able to use. If God can use an imperfect person like Samson, maybe he can use me, too!
Before you react to this blog post, read the Wall Street Journal article from the link below. The point: There is NO chance that this earth is here because of some "big bang". There must have been a creator, an intelligence that planned it all. The Bible describes this intelligence as God. He loves you and planned for this world to sustain you. He also planned for the next world to sustain you there, too. It's called heaven. Care to know how to get there?
Click HERE for the WSJ article
Garbage in, garbage out. What we put into our minds is ultimately that which comes out of our minds, hearts, and mouths. Proverbs 23:7 says, "...as he thinks in his heart, so is he...."
Our thoughts and mind are so important! Watch TV with foul language constantly, and it won't be long before you let an expletive slip out. We must guard our minds and hearts! Here's how:
Watch your words. We speak differently when in front of people we love and respect, versus people who we dislike. In front of mom, we'll speak the right way. When someone swears in front of me, I always want to say, "You kiss your mom with that mouth?" The idea being that your mom wouldn't approve of your foul mouth and I bet she didn't raise you to speak that way.
If we would only imagine that with our words that God is listening, would that affect the way we speak and our language? I bet it would. But consider, God IS always listening! He DOES hear our words and our speech (Heb 4:13). Therefore, let's clean up the way we speak!
Watch your thoughts. Pornography is so dangerous because you can't "un-see" an image. It gets into your mind and those pictures and thoughts are etched into your memory unless you work hard to eradicate, bury and kill them. Writing this Psalm, David is trying his best to let the thoughts and meditation of his heart be acceptable to God. The things we think about matter! David recognized it, and wanted to do what's right! Do you?
Looking to make your thoughts better? Read also: 2 Cor 10:5; Rom 8:6, 7; 12:2.
Success. We all want it. Nobody wants to lose, yet who do so few succeed? Deborah was a great leader of God’s people during a time when leadership was greatly lacking. In her successful victory over Sisera, Deborah composed and sang a song of success. Here are a few keys to success from Deborah’s song:
Lead. Leaders step out on a limb and try. Failure may happen, but at least you have tried. Nothing was going to change the downward spiral Israel was in unless someone did something. The people were living in fear (5:6, 7) until someone cared enough to overcome that fear and be willing to lead. People needed leaders to lead. Will you lead?
Unified Purpose. If we all move and work in different directions, we will not accomplish our goal. Imagine holding hands with someone. Next try running in different directions. You will make it to where you want to go, but not together. If both of you want to arrive together, you have to run together in the same direction. Deborah had to work with the leaders of the people (tribes) and then the leaders then had to work together with the people if any plan was going to succeed (5:9).
Willingness. Leaders and workers…both are needed. You can’t lead without people, and you can’t follow without a leader. Someone has to step up to lead, and someone has to be willing to follow. When leaders lead and followers follow, we can be successful and even be a blessing to the Lord (5:2, 9)!
Resolve. In order to accomplish the task ahead (in this case a military battle), then the people needed to work together with resolve. They needed commitment to the cause, not half-hearted involvement! One tribe, Issachar, was highlighted for supporting Barak. Notice they gained their encouragement from support they received from Deborah. Point: When we support others, we give courage that is relayed on down the line. However, courage isn’t enough…we still need “great resolves of heart” (5:15).
Risk. In any endeavor, there is risk. Deborah took a risk acting as judge for the people of Israel. But the risk was worth the effort because God was on her side. However, two tribes are criticized for being too cautious and staying at home: Dan and Asher. Dan stayed “on ships” or “at ease”, while Asher stayed home. They weren’t willing to risk the effort required to change and be blessed by God (5:17).
Another two tribes are praised for their “all-in” approach: Zebulun and Naphtali. Yes, there is always risk in battle. The people of Zebulun were putting their lives on the line, even risking death to accomplish the end goal (5:18). To them, the risk was worth the effort. To Dan and Asher, it wasn’t. If I want to be successful, I must face risk and have enough wisdom to know when it is worth it to dive “all-in” and when to be cautious and stay “at ease”.
Develop these qualities to gain success in your life. Do they work for you? What other qualities would you suggest?
Aaron Baker works with the fun church family at Foristell.