It’s hard to know exactly who the most famous of the judges is, but I reckon it’d have to be between Gideon and Samson – probably with Samson winning the race in a photo finish. The story of Samson has all the features of a classic drama – a flawed hero, a dangerous liaison, a fall from grace and a final, unexpected redemption. But what does it have to teach us about God and ourselves?
Today we look at the lesser-known first half of the story of Samson. We read of his “miraculous” conception, his “setting apart” as a Nazirite, and the unusual tale of his marriage to a Philistine woman. To be honest, it’s a story that raises more questions for me than it provides answers! Why doesn’t the angel of the Lord answer Manoah’s question about how the child should be raised? Why does God use Samson’s disobedience to judge the Philistines? And what on earth is chapter 14 all about?!
Whenever I’ve got that many questions with a passage, I try to start with what I DO know. First, God obviously has a plan for Samson. Somehow, God is going to use Samson to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines. Second, God wants Samson to be holy in a special way – set apart in a way that is over and above what he expects of the average Israelite. Third, Samson is going to fail miserably at his calling – he might’ve let his hair grow and avoided alcohol but it seems like every other decision he made was a long way short of holy! And finally, even though Samson fails, God stays with him and works in him and through him.
Samson’s got a lot of flaws, but so do I. Praise God that he sticks with me and has promised that he will never leave me. Praise God too that he can work through me to save others too. That’s amazing!