I was reading the story of Samson this morning (Judges 13-16) and it initially struck me how foolish Samson was in telling Delilah the truth about his hair. He’d already lied to her 3 times before about the secret of his strength and on each of those occasions she’d attempted to deliver him over to the Philistine lords.
Samson’s intelligence is hard to judge from reading the text, however after reading another blog post, Samson – Stupid or Arrogant? (Or Both?), I think the truth is that Samson’s main downfall was his pride, not his stupidity or even his love of women (although that was a big factor too).
According to the Nazarite vow, after coming in contact with dead bodies he should have renewed the vow and shaved his head. So after killing over 1000 Philistines in his reign as Israel’s Judge, why is there no mention of any renewal of his Nazarite vow? And don’t forget his meal of wild honey from inside the carcass of the dead lion – eating anything unclean was against the Nazarite vow.
It is clear then that as a Nazarite Samson had already broken quite a few rules yet God had chosen to overlook this disobedience for a season. Then, when Samson forsook the most visual element of the Nazarite vow God decided enough was enough and his strength was taken from him. Of course, Samson didn’t realise this at first, “…he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.” Samson wasn’t stupid, he was arrogant had believed his strength would remain no matter how much he disobeyed God.
How often do we think of our talents and strengths as something that is from us, not from God? As I am starting my own business I am tempted to rely on my skills and efforts – after all, most of the successful entrepreneurs out there did not ‘have God’ on their side to become mega-successful, why then should I use God’s strength? The answer is that as a man I have chosen no longer to satisfy the flesh, but to serve, honour and worship God. What honour does God get if I build a business with my own strength? But if I dedicate everything to the Lord and rely on His leading and His strength, all the glory must therefore go to Him.
So what should we do about this arrogance in our hearts? The story of Samson doesn’t finish as bad as we often think. Samson prayed a prayer of repentance and “…the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.” Some may say this was just for his sake, after all his prayer included mention of taking vengeance for his eyes that had been cut out by the Philistines. However I don’t believe this was purely selfish repentance, as we find in verse 30 the final prayer, “Let me die with the Philistines!”. Samson meant business in his intercession with the LORD, he was agreeing to lay everything down and let God take the final victory. The result is triumph even though Samson the man was dead.
But isn’t that how it should be with us? We need to die in order to live. In order for God to truly be glorified we must put to death the deeds of the flesh (“So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.”).
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” – John 12:24