Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from the Scripture
Judges 16.30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. 31 Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years.
Samson is as tragic as he is heroic. His life demands examination.
Samson is as tragic as he is heroic. His life demands examination. This is especially true for those engaged in ministry. Both Samson’s strengths and weaknesses parallel our own. And the lessons we can learn in looking at him, might just be the means whereby our own efforts in serving God might be spared the wreckage his ended in.
The 4 short chapters that chronicle Samson’s life I’ll leave to you to read; and proceed as if you know the basic story line. My concern here is identifying some of the things which led to his sad and tragic end.
First, it is important to see that no matter how called of God one is, no matter how anointed or useful – those in ministry do not play by different rules than any other in the Kingdom of God. Samson was God’s man. His birth was supernaturally announced. His gifting unequaled. His call undeniable. But he failed to obey the fundamentals. Numbers 6 clearly sets out the principles guiding the lives of those bound under Nazarite vows. One of those key principles dealt with Nazarites coming into contact with the dead. When that happened, they were to go through a purification rite. A rite requiring the shaving of their heads. In Samson’s case, this would have rendered him weak for a season. Humbled. Out of service. Though he kills a lion in chap. 14, and then touches the carcass again – we read nothing of his seeking purification. Later in the same chapter he kills 30 men. Still nothing. In 15, first an unspecified number of men, then a 1000 with the jawbone of an ass. Still no response. Till at last, asleep on the knees of Delilah, his head is finally shaved. Not by him, but by her. And this time, his enemies are at hand. He is captured, blinded and enslaved. His repeated refusal to humble himself before God, and keep his charge as proscribed brought him to his knees at last. Not in worship, but in disgrace.
Second, we need to be reminded that no matter how called of God one is, no matter how anointed or useful – we are still all prone to the simplest and most common of sinful weaknesses. For Samson, women headed the top of the list. First he chooses a Philistine woman to marry. He betrays his apparently single criterion for choosing a wife – “she is right in my eyes.” Never mind her nation enslaved Israel. Never mind she was not a Jew. Never mind their nations were at war. Never mind God’s intent to judge and dispossess the Philistines was common knowledge. He only knew what he liked. His marriage plans gone awry, we find him using the services of a prostitute in Gaza. Lastly “he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. Attempts to make her a prostitute as well are the stuff of legend but our text doesn’t say so. What we do find is that her name seems to indicate something of her character. Delilah means:”pining with desire.” A feature confirmed by her willingness to sell out the man who loved her, for 1,100 pieces of silver. No man, no woman, no matter how authentic their call to the service of Christ might be, is exempted from their natural weaknesses and sinful tendencies by virtue of that call. In fact, that is precisely where they will be the most vulnerable. In the very places one would assume that those who are “God’s man” are above such base and common sins – danger waits in every step. A vigilant watch over our souls can never be neglected because we see God’s hand with us in doing the impossible. An unguarded moment, can end it all.
Lastly, we need to see that no matter how called of God one is, no matter how anointed or useful – what God does THROUGH us is never more important than what He is doing IN us. In other words, no ministry is more important than genuine spiritual fidelity, growth in holiness and conformity the image of Christ.
Many a saint has failed to take steps to deal with spiritual issues in their own life crying for attention – because the “ministry” would suffer if they stepped down, or just away for a season. It is a subtle form of idolatry. The ministry – or what I think God is doing through me, now must continue regardless of whether or not my own spiritual state is in its proper place before God. Haven’t we seen the repeat of this over and over in our own generation? Large, public ministries, finally brought to a shambles because behind the scenes, sin went un-dealt with. And even when exposed, leadership refusing to step down because “what would happen to the “ministry?” The greater consideration always must be, “what will happen to my soul
if this continues?” And above even than – “what of the name of Christ if and when it all comes crashing down?”
Sober warnings from the life of one whose example ought to greatly inform us. And, encouragement too. For we would be hard pressed to find any more grace-filled, hope-filled, tender, God of grace-revealing words than those found in Chapter 16 and verse 22. Blind. Being treated as a spectacle by the Philistines. Being used as animal labor at the grinding mill of his enemies. “The hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” How good is our God!