What Not to Be…What We Can Be
He is probably one of the most enigmatic people to be found in the pages of Scripture. There is no questioning how much potential he had, but there’s also no questioning how most of his life is a tragic story, of wasted potential. The story of Samson’s life, as found in the book of Judges, is the sort of thing you would expect to see in some action/adventure movie, with women and fighting all the way, and yet he was judge over God’s people for 20 years.
We know Samson’s life began in great promise (Judg. 13:6-7), but the reality is he allowed his life to be driven by his passions and desires. While Samson’s domination of the Philistines is the constant that runs through the events in his life, you are left wondering what he might have been had if he had overcome his weaknesses. Wasted potential and missed opportunities are some of the greatest regrets anyone can carry with them from youth to maturity. Since we too live in a time when it seems many do what is right in their own eyes, what can we learn from Samson to help us conquer the sinful desires of the flesh, and focus our lives on what pleases God?
One thing we can learn from the life of Sampson is our need to recognize what our temptations are. Samson had real problems with his sexuality and his anger, but rather than try to resolve them, he allowed sin to manipulate him instead. The tragedy of Samson dying with the Philistines is the tragedy of sin and its consequences (Judg. 16:30). Certainly, you can say God used him, weaknesses and all, to conquer those who stood as enemies of God. Wherever Samson went, Philistines died. Yet, how much more could have been done, had Samson recognized the importance of his lifelong vow to God and lived for God instead?
God can work good out of any situation (Rom. 8:28), but for us personally, how much better could life be if we allowed God to help us through our weaknesses and find strength in Him, instead of allowing temptations to rule over us? “But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception” (Heb. 3:13).
Something else we can learn from Sampson is we sometimes can find the strength we need to live faithfully for God through the weaknesses we have. Samson trusted his physical abilities, but in the end realized how important it was to trust in God, the source of his strength “He called out to the Lord, ‘Lord God, please remember me. Strengthen me, God, just once more’” (Judg. 16:28). You can’t help thinking how much better it would have been, if Samson had never got involved with Delilah in the first place, but God used Samson in spite of his flaws, and Samson discovered, albeit in the end, that true strength comes from real dependence on God.
Our greatest temptation may be to forget it’s God who provides what’s good for our lives. True strength comes when we allow God to help us make sense of our lives. When we become conscious of our own limitations, shortcomings, and sins, we can look to God to find strength, and know He has a positive role for us in His kingdom. Even Paul could say, “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ — and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life” (1 Tim. 1:15-16).
Let’s take courage and learn from Samson’s story the lessons it has for us. We must seek to get our lives, and keep our lives, in the way that glorifies God. May we also trust in the Lord who uses flawed human beings for His glory, and by faith seek God’s strength, to serve God in good works and good attitudes that, perhaps at this moment in time, we feel are outside our abilities. Those who seek find (Matt. 7:7), and if we genuinely seek God, we will find our God is a God of great patience and great grace.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”