The Gospel According to Samson

Samson_BannerImagine a big, hulking, muscle-bound human being capable of fantastic feats of strength. No, I’m not talking about the Hulk. But that’s not too far off.

Much like the Hulk, Samson was known for his amazing strength. He did hand-to-hand combat with a lion and won and killed 1,000 men by using a donkey’s bone as his weapon of choice. One time, his enemies thought they had him trapped in a town named Gaza. What did this superhuman do? He tore the town gates off their hinges (which were not light, by the way) and carried them away to a place called Hebron. No big deal, right? Wrong. Hebron was about 40 miles away! This dude was super strong!

God built this Samson for a purpose. At his birth, Samson’s parents set him aside for God in what is called a Nazirite vow (Check out Numbers 6 for information on how this worked). Basically, it’s a promise to stay true to God’s calling. Samson was born to be special.

But, alas, Samson had his weaknesses. Though, he did have an anger problem (You can read his story in Judges 15-16), that wasn’t his downfall. Instead, it was the fact that though he had been set apart from God, he just couldn’t live in perfect obedience to God’s way of doing things.

In fact, Samson not only broke a ton of the actual 10 Commandments (murder, lying, etc.), he often broke his Nazarite vow to be set apart for God! For example, a person under this vow was not allowed to touch something that was dead. Samson had some issues with this. He grabbed a handful of honey out of a dead lion’s corpse (the same one he’d killed earlier), and he stole clothes off of 30 men he had just murdered. That donkey bone he used to kill those thousand men? Yup, the donkey was still rotting.

In addition, a person who has taken a Nazarite vow is not permitted to cut their hair. It’s the outward expression of their vow. And, guess what? Samson sold out to his sweetheart (who secretly loathed him) and told her that he wasn’t permitted to cut his hair. That, in fact, it was the secret of his strength. While he was sleeping, his loving girlfriend shaved it off! Poof, strength gone. Relationship over.

The weakened Samson was quickly taken captive by his enemies, who gouged out his eyes, put him to work as a slave, and openly proclaimed the superiority of their gods, for they had conquering him. It sucked.

For those who have committed their lives to Jesus, we too have been set apart. Check out this verse in Acts 20:32:

And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.

We have been set apart as something special to God. From the day we were born again through baptism (See John 3) we have taken a vow to follow Jesus in our lives.

But, much like Samson, we fail. We mess up. We don’t follow Jesus’s lead every time, breaking our vow in the process.

Here’s the cool part, though. It’s called grace. Jesus forgives us when we screw up, no matter how royally. Even if you’re Samson.

God restored Samson again, after his hair grew out and he asked for God to renew him once more.

Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” (Judges 16:28)

God granted Samson’s request, restoring his strength and his salvation in that one moment. Though a vow had been utterly shattered, God once again set Samson apart, and rebooted the vow.

He does the same with each one of us. Even though we mess up, God still wants us. He is ready, willing, and able to restore. No matter what we’ve done, or how far we’ve drifted from His lead.

Take this moment to call out to Jesus. Ask for restoration. Ask for the strength to follow Him. Renew your vow and be set apart once again.

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