Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes.” -Judges 16:28
This prayer was made by Samson at the end of his life. A man who by all accounts lived a selfish life and squandered the gift God gave him.
Samson is one of the most recognizable judges who ruled over Israel before the time of the kings. Known as a man of great strength the Lord was with Samson throughout even as he recklessly used his gift. To understand Samson’s story, we first have to understand that he was a Nazirite and as such he was supposed to live a certain way.
he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall consume no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes. 4 All the days of his consecration he shall not eat anything that is produced from the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin.
‘All the days of his vow of consecration no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled which he lives as a Nazirite for the Lord; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.
‘All the days of his life as a Nazirite for the Lord he shall not come up to a dead person. 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his consecration to God is on his head. – Numbers 6:3-7
Samson did not live under the Nazarite vows and in fact, was a very violent person. He ate honeycomb out of the carcass of a dead lion he had killed and even shared it with his parents. He killed 30 Philistines when his wife, Timnah, tricked him into telling the answer to a riddle he had betted on with 30 companions. He burned the Philistines’ property by using three hundred foxes, tying their tails in pairs, and torching them as they ran through the Philistines’ fields. When the Philistines retaliate, burning his wife and father-in-law, Samson kills many of them.
Throughout his violent streak and boastful life, the Lord stayed with Samson. However, sins have consequences and for Samson, it came in the form of the woman he loved, Delilah. The Philistines offered Delilah shekels of silver to find the secret to his strength. Delilah nagged Samson until he told her everything including the secret to his strength which was his hair.
And she made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to humble him, and his strength left him. She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and restrained him with bronze chains, and he became a grinder in the prison. However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it was shaved off. -Judges 16:19-22
Ironically, Samson for the first time is captured by his enemies, the Philistines. His eyes are gouged out and he is in shackles. When God left Samson, he became like any other man. He lost the gift that God had given him. This is a reminder to use our gifts for the good of God. Remember that Samson was always pulled in by lust and therefore surrounded himself with women he shouldn’t have. After losing his eyes, he no longer can be pulled in by lust.
Even though he lost his freedom, God’s grace is evidenced by Samson’s hair. It is noted that his hair began to grow even in prison. The Philistines’ victory was temporary because they were God’s enemies. Samson may have disobeyed God, but he was still favored and while the Philistine’s called on him to entertain them, he saw it as a moment to glorify God once again.
Samson died using his strength to destroy the building with him in it by grasping the two middle pillars and bracing himself against them. He was willing to die this way knowing that he would kill the Philistines as well. It is noted that he killed more than those whom he had killed during his lifetime.
Samson’s story is a reminder that God may favor us, but we must be obedient to him. Surely, Samson could have defeated the Philistines and still lived a Christian life that honored God throughout his days. Instead, he was born into God’s favor but didn’t fulfill his mission until the very end when he had lost everything.
As you are fasting and praying think of the lessons learned from Samson’s story. Think of the ways that you may not be honoring God in your life today. How can you live a God-fearing life and use your talents for good? How can you honor God with your gifts? How can you be less of Samson and more of Jesus?