Of all of the faith heroes we have been learning about in this series, Samson is the one who looked like a superhero. He had long, flowing locks, a powerful build and super-human strength. Samson’s strength was actually a divine gift from God that was intended to be used to help him fight the Philistines, an enemy of the Israelites.
Not only was Samson remarkably strong, he was also remarkably flawed. He had some anger issues, he was vengeful and he was a womanizer. Yet despite his flaws, God used Him to accomplish a divine purpose. So what lessons can we learn from the life of Samson? I’ll share four, though you may find more.
Samson’s story is captured in Judges 13-16. He was born during a dark time in the history of the Israelites; because of their disobedience God had allowed them to fall under the oppression of the Philistines. Now God was going to use Samson to strike some serious blows to Israel’s oppressive enemy. (Judges 13:5)
Samson was born a Nazirite, which means he was “separated” or “set apart” for God. For that reason, he was not to drink wine or fruit of the vine. He couldn’t go near or touch a dead body, human or animal, and he could not cut his hair.
Over and over, Samson flaunts his Nazirite expectations. He sins by marrying a Philistine woman, eating honey from a dead lion carcass, and slaying 30 Philistines out of vengeance. Despite his sinful, vengeful behavior, God was still able to use Samson for His purpose… to strike blows against the Philistines.
Lesson #1 - God will use even flawed, sinful people to accomplish His will. (Judges 14:4). Over and over, Samson willingly walked into situations that led to sin, but, each time, God used him to accomplish His divine purpose. The truth is that even our sin can’t prevent God from accomplishing His will. Despite the fact that God was able to use Samson to accomplish His purpose, Samson would still be accountable for his sinful choices.
Lesson #2 - The consequences of our sin are inescapable. Later, Samson met and fell in love with a Philistine named Delilah. The Philistine leadership saw an opportunity and seized it, bribing Delilah to find the secret of Samson’s strength. (Judges 16:5) Delilah began to beg Samson to tell her the source of his great might. Samson lies to her again and again, as the Philistines hide nearby, waiting for the opportunity to capture him.
Finally, Samson relents and reveals that his strength was because he had been “set apart” or “separated” for the Lord; specifically, that his hair had never been cut. Delilah informed the Philistine rulers of Samson’s secret and then waited until Samson was asleep; then she called for someone to come shave his head. She woke him with a cry: 20 …“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. Judges 16:20
Samson had always been able to escape in the past! He thought this would be just another bump in the road for him; but not this time. The Lord had left him. Samson was really distant from God now.
Lesson #3 - When we distance ourselves from God, we do so at great risk. To be clear, if you are a Christ-Follower, God’s Spirit will never leave you. But if you turn from Him, go your own way, follow a sinful, destructive path, then it would be foolish to expect Him to bless you.
Samson’s sin had caused him to forfeit the power of God’s presence in His life. That is what sin does to us; it weakens us emotionally, physically and spiritually. Sin is not empowering… sin is not inspiring… sin is debilitating in every way.
Samson’s continual, willful disobedience had reached it’s boiling point. He was far from God, no longer separated for Him, but now separated from Him. It appears he has finally reached the point where he thought he didn't need God. At that moment the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes. (Judges 16:21). They put him in shackles and had him grinding grain. Now he was finally facing the consequences of his actions.
I read somewhere that Samson was spiritually blind long before his eyes were gouged out. The truth is that that sin can seep deep into in our lives if we aren’t careful. It has a blinding, numbing effect on us. Left unchecked, it can ruin us.
So how can we avoid being corrupted by sin? Guard your heart! 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 Jesus taught about the importance of guarding the heart. (Matthew 5:28)
Though born with unbelievable potential, Samson forfeited much of his life because of sin. The risk for us is clear; the deeper we allow ourselves to be influenced by the glamour and allurement of sin, the more blind we become. Samson had been very cavalier and careless with his heart. Now he was paying the price. Where is your heart these days? What is commanding your attention, your focus, your dedication, your love?
Samson was finally a broken man. He was humbled and ready to surrender again to God’s leadership in His life. He prayed for one more opportunity to serve God and strike a blow against the Philistines.
Lesson #4 - It is never too late to yield your heart to God. Samson would end up giving his life to destroy the temple of the Philistine god, Dagon and killing thousands of Philistines in the process, striking one final, mighty blow against Israel’s enemy. (Judges 16:28-30)
When we look at Samson’s life, it would be easy to write him off as a lost cause… a vengeful man, a womanizer, a hothead and a brute with no redeeming quantities. But God had a purpose for Samson.
Maybe you have veered far from God. You have depended on your own brawn or brains or prowess for far too long. You have taken your relationship with Him for granted. Now you are distant from God. You haven’t really seen a need for God in your life or maybe you have just pushed him aside to pursue your own desires. Would you come back to Him today? If you have never surrendered your life to Christ, would you do that today?
For much more, listen to Heroes - Part 7 - Samson.