Although I taught the entire Old Testament book of Judges to a college class in India, this summer was the first time in 38 years of ministry that I have preached a Sunday morning series on the life of Samson. What a fascinating character!
If any of us today were to do what Samson did, we would be in all kinds of trouble! Although his life was dedicated to God, he seems to have had a weakness for women. He violated Scripture in falling first for a Philistine woman as his wife. Later he spends the night with a prostitute. And then he falls for Delilah.
Samson clearly violated all three tenants of the Nazarite vow – not to touch a dead body, not to drink wine or strong drink, and not to permit a razor to cut his hair. And his failure to keep the Nazarite vow and to follow the Word of God cost him dearly. He was somewhat of a tragic figure, and yet he is a great hero of the Hebrew faith – and is listed in the New Testament “Hall of Fame of Faith” in Hebrews, chapter 11.
Samson was an amazing individual. Each time he fell spiritually, he would repent, confess his sins and “get right” with God. And God would forgive him and use him again. Yet Samson’s usefulness was limited by his lack of obedience.
We can learn a number of lessons from Samson:
- Greater privilege brings greater responsibility. One of the reason God seems to forgive and to bless Samson is that he had no help – no mentors, no teachers, no supporters, etc. You and I have much greater privilege, so God may expect us to respond commensurately.
- We need to learn to live by principle. To do so would have kept Samson out of a lot of trouble.
- Our “flesh” can defeat us. The New Testament says, “Take heed you that think you stand, lest you fall.” We are all vulnerable to temptation.
- We need to be careful not to trust in our own power, which is the result of pride. Samson was a powerful man, but he tended to get in trouble by depending on his human power even when God’s power departed him.
- It is never too late to turn to God. Thank God we serve “the God of the second chance.” Late in life God’s power returned to Samson even after he had messed up!