As I read the account of Samson’s life, I see wasted opportunities and lost hope. It seems that Samson is representative of his nation where “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”(Judges 21:25, NKJV). Samson is the supreme example of the selfish, sinful attitude of mankind. He’s much like us...
“You were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God ... is rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:1–4).
So, let’s examine Samson’s life, not looking specifically at the poor example of Samson, but looking at God and His divine actions as He intervenes to demonstrate His rich mercies.
From his earliest days, God blessed Samson and “the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him”(Judges 13:25-25). When Samson went to Timnah, a Philistine community, his folks may have thought he was on a reconnaissance mission. Surely Samson was going to spy on the Philistines with hopes of invading and conquering. But alas, Samson “saw a young Philistine woman” (Judges 14:1) and returned love-sick. “His father and mother said to him, ‘Can’t you find a young woman among your relatives or among any of our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines for a wife?’ But Samson told his father, ‘Get her for me. She’s the right one for me’ ” (Judges 14:3).
If you’re wondering what God was doing, don’t miss the footnote in verse four. “Now his father and mother did not know this was from the Lord, who wanted the Philistines to provide an opportunity for a confrontation” (Judges 14:4). God was at work! That divinely orchestrated confrontation came as “the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully on (Samson), and he went down to Ashkelon” and singlehandedly killed thirty Philistine men (Judges 14:19–20). A few weeks later, Samson killed an unnumbered troop of Philistines, tearing them “limb from limb” (Judges 15:8).
Later, at Lehi, another Philistine community, the “Spirit of the Lord came powerfully” on Samson as he used the “jawbone of a donkey” and killed a thousand Philistine warriors (Judges 15:14-16). After the battle, Samson “became very thirsty; so he cried out to the Lord.” (Judges 15:18, NKJV). Much as God had done during the Exodus, “God split a hollow place in the ground at Lehi, and water came out of it. After Samson drank, his strength returned, and he revived” (Judges 15:19).
Chapter fifteen ends with a summary statement. “And (Samson) judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines” (Judges 15:20). Samson was part of God’s plan. “The Lordraised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them” (Judges 2:16, ESV).
Aren’t you grateful that God is at work today? Aren’t you thankful that “God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” (Ephesians 2:4).
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.