God’s People, part 36: Samson

Read Judges 13-16

“Then Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ He strained with all his might; and the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So those he killed at his death were more than those he had killed during his life.” (Judges 16:30 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Bible_03_06_Samson-and-DelilahPart 36: Samson. Of all the people in the Bible who you think would have it together, one would think Samson would be it.  After all, his mother and father promised to raise him up as a Nazarite, meaning that he would basically eat a super restricted, Kosher diet that excluded drinking alcohol and other sorts of excesses that were permitted in Jewish society.

He was taught from birth on that he had been a miracle child, that he was to dress a certain way, keep his hair a certain way, and eat a certain way. Actually, come to think of, it makes perfect sense that Samson would grow up to be a bit of a rebel. With that said, it is not rebelliousness that comes through as a character flaw in the Scriptures. Rather, he comes across as pompous, high maintenance, and entitled. So we are back to square one, that of all the people in the Bible, one would think Samson would not be like this.

Yet he is. Right off of the bat, Samson sees a Philistine woman and demands that his father and mother bring her to him as his wife. I guess Samson felt that “courting” her was too much a waste of his time. He wanted to cut the chase and get straight down to business.  The marriage, as could be expected, turned out to be a disaster.

What’s more, Samson made mortal enemies with the Philistines, who would not forget all the humiliation he caused them.  While it was not Samson’s call to be friends of the Philistines, he fought them with reckless abandon, mocked them, disgraced his Philistine wife’s family, slept around with prostitutes, and began an affair with a woman named Delilah. To that end, Samson ended up meeting his match and sealed his fate.

While Israel was desperately in need of a Judge who would keep them on the straight and narrow path, and protect them from themselves and their enemies, they instead received in Samson a brute of a man who thought only of himself, if he thought much at all. Instead of another type of Gideon, Israel ended up with someone more like Conan the Barbarian. All brawn, not so much in the way of a brain.

Yet, by the grace of God, Samson did end up fulfilling his role as judge. In the end, having lost his pride, his place, his family, his hair, and his eyes, Samson finally came to the place of humility. Samson finally found his dependence on God and called out to God in faith. What’s unfortunate is that Samson waited until the only way out of his situation was death. God never abandoned Samson; however, things might have been different had he looked to God rather than the pleasures he felt entitled to. Things might have been different had he simply placed his faith in God, rather than in his ability to battle his way out.

I think that Samson is a reminder for us that we can often feel entitled to God’s love for us and forget that LOVE is a two-way street. Rather that seeing God’s love as a free pass to do things our way, as well as to have our way, let us see God’s love as the very essence of our being. If we understand God’s love in that sense, we will find that we will be living into God’s love, rather than taking it for granted. Let us also be reminded, through Samson, that no matter how off the beaten path with may stray, God never abandons us.  We are loved, even when we are not so loveable.

We are loved, even when we are not so loveable.

Lord, I am loved by you. Continually remind me and hold me accountable to that love. Amen.

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