Having been captured by Israel’s traditional enemies—the Philistines—as a result of his own ill-discipline and carelessness, Samson was blinded and put to work in a mill. The Philistines interpreted Samson’s downfall as a triumph for their national deity, Dagon. So they organized a huge celebration to honor him. “They praised their god saying, ‘Our god has delivered our enemy to us!’” (Judges 16:24). Religious fervor, fueled by alcohol, stirred up the crowd until they demanded that Samson be brought out and further humiliated. So the pitiful, blinded, former strong man was led by the hand into the midst of the jeering crowd, where they proceeded to make sport of him.
Samson was born with the express intention that he should “rescue Israel from the Philistines” (13:5). This was his raison d’être, his reason for being. But his present circumstances were a brutal reminder of his ignominious failure. Far from delivering Israel from the Philistines, Israel’s mighty man was held by them, bound and blind, his life blighted. So not only was Samson an object of ridicule, but he had also dragged Israel down to the status of laughingstock. Even worse, he had given the followers of Dagon the opportunity to believe that their man-made idol was stronger than and superior to the Creator God, Jehovah.
As Samson stood in the midst of the crowd, unseeing but aware, he prayed! “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me one more time so that I may pay back the Philistines for the loss of my eyes” (16:28). Apparently, even at this juncture, Samson had vengeance in mind, rather than the fulfillment of his divinely-ordained task—to deliver Israel from the Philistines. But he acknowledged that the Lord was the source of his strength and that his failure had left him estranged from his God. And he now wanted to be strengthened again.
God granted his request. While Samson was concerned about revenge for his eyes, God was interested in displaying his own majesty and superiority to man-made idols. So, in one awesome display of power, Samson pushed on the main supports of the building. Both he and the jeering crowd were then ushered into eternity amid screams of terror and a monumental architectural collapse.
Questions naturally come to mind. For example, was God aiding a vengeful man or assisting a suicide? But these questions overlook the main point of the story: God is willing to use imperfect people to further his ends—so long as they acknowledge their dependence on him. It was true of Samson, and it is true of you and me.
For Further Study: Judges 16:23-31
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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