As a Catholic kid, the story about Samson was one of my favorites. His super strength. His hair. Delilah. You name it. I loved it.
In my quest to read the Bible from cover to cover in a year, this week I am in Judges. For the past couple days I have been reading the story of Samson. And today I read what might be the most tragic verse in the entire Bible. Let me explain…
Before Samson was born, it seemed God had destined him for greatness. In fact, while Samson’s mother was struggling to get pregnant, an angel visited her to tell her she was going to become a mom. I love this description of it: an angel of God, very awesome. (Judges 13:6) By the way “very awesome” are not my words, that is actually what it says in the NIV translation.
So Samson enters our world and from birth he is to take a Nazarite vow (see Numbers 6) which is a special way to be set apart from the rest of the world for God’s purposes. Think of a Navy SEAL compared to a regular soldier. You get the picture.
As Samson got older the text says, He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him… (Judges 13:25)
And this theme of the Holy Spirit filling him, stirring him, and empowering him became a regular occurrence. Consider these texts:
…a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands… (Judges 14:5-6)
Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men… (Judges 14:19)
The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. (Judges 15:14)
So Samson was chosen by God, set apart to be used by God in significant ways including leading the nation of Israel…and that is exactly what happened for a large part of his life.
And then somewhere along the way, things went south. Which leads me to the title of this blog.
After Samson’s hair gets cut off, here is what the text says:
He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. (Judges 16:20)
But he did not know that the Lord had left him. That might be the most tragic verse in the entire Bible. A man whose very conception was soaked in the supernatural. A man who took a Nazarite vow from birth. A man who led God’s chosen people for two decades. A man who was filled with the Spirit of the Lord numerous times throughout his life…this man drifted so much in his relationship with God that when the Lord left him, he didn’t even realize it.
It would be easy to read this blog and stand in judgment over Samson, but if we do that, I think we miss the point. The point isn’t about Samson. It’s about us. It’s about our relationship with God. It’s about the choices we make day in and day out that either deeper our spiritual journey or hijack it. Big choices and small choices.
Consider this quote from Francis Chan: “Our greatest fear should not be fear of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that really don’t matter.”
What are you succeeding at right now in life — what are you choosing to pour your life into –that ultimately doesn’t matter? That maybe distracts you from God at best or pulls you away from God at worst?
***Please join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. My sermon is titled “The Little are Big” as we look at Matthew 19:13-15, a passage that is all about children but about so much more. January 13. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***