Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Samson Life

It always saddens me to read the story of Samson in the book of Judges. Here was a man that was chosen by God to do great things even before his birth. He is born to parents who were unable to conceive children up to that point. It hearkens to similar circumstances shared by Abraham and Sarah. It is also the case with the parents of Samuel and John the Baptist. In each case, the giving of a child by God pointed to a special and powerful purpose for his life. It appears the same was the intention for Samuel. But he didn't live up to his calling.

Samson was a Nazarite from birth. Nazarites were essentially precursors to the religious life. They took vows to abstain from wine and anything killed, and could not cut their hair. This pointed to a special consecration to God for His work. Even though Samson was raised this way, he wandered away quickly. He broke his vows. We find him to be a partying, reckless, womanizing man.

In the end, he betrays his last secret to his lover. The secret to his superior strength was in his long hair. Once it was cut, he was like any other man. Of course, hair does not give strength. But God gave him his strength as long as he maintained his vow to not cut his hair. It was a sign of God's faithfulness even in the midst of Samuel's rampant disobedience. But once the hair was cut, that was the point of transgression for which God said, "That's enough! Now you must pay the consequences."

He was captured by the Philistines and blinded. Then they used him for their entertainment. He finishes his days in captivity to the enemy he was called to conquer. Though he has one last moment of glory in literally bringing the house down on his enemies, it is still a far cry from what he was called to do in the beginning.

I think there's a lot we can learn from Samson. God calls each of us for good works in Christ (Eph. 2:10). He sets us apart for His special purposes through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has big plans for us to conquer our enemies of sin (see yesterday's post), and to live in the joy and beauty of holiness with Him forever. But many times we sell out to our passions. We choose the immediate gratification of what's near at hand over the eternal reward originally offered to us. Like Samson, we find ourselves captive to our sins.

It doesn't have to end like that, but for too many, it does. They have lived a Samson life. They have betrayed their calling and purpose in life. Now, they have nothing but the ridicule of their enemies and the regret of their own memories.

Judas lived a Samson life. He squandered the unique privilege of being called as one of the twelve. He betrayed the Lord. In the end, he could have found forgiveness. But he didn't. He died in the clutches of sin and despair. He is known forevermore as the betrayer.

I should note that it is generally thought that Samson was repentant in the end as he begged for God's anointing one last time. We believe he found forgiveness in the end. However, how much better it would have been had he lived obedient to God all along!

Today, we have the opportunity to decide how we will live. If we have lived a Samson life to this point, we can turn to God and be changed. It's not too late! Don't wait another minute. The past cannot be changed. But the future lies open before us. God grant us forgiveness and the grace to overcome our enemies at last!

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