Dave spoke tonight from Judges 14, looking at the life and character of Samson. Samson seems a mysterious figure to us: is he an aggressive, oversexed buffoon or a hero of the faith? In the book of Judges, we see a cycle of sin, represented below:
Samson doesn’t seem to fit into this cycle, however, since he seems more a mirror of the people than a true leader. In his violence and promiscuity, he reflects the state of the nation at this time, and in his tolerance of the Philistines (choosing a wife from them), he mirrors the lack of passion for God which seems to have been prevalent.
We may well wonder where God was in all the murder and mayhem of the time, but the fact is that God works behind the scenes at all times, even when what is happening seems to make no sense to us. Samson’s riddle, based on his experience of killing a lion and later finding honey in the dead carcass (itself a violation of his Nazirite vows since he was not supposed to touch dead bodies or drink wine), infuriated the Philistines and led them to manipulate his new wife into revealing the answer to them. Samson’s wild revenge seems out of proportion and his weakness to women ultimately saw the Philistines rob him of his sight.
Judges 13:5 speaks of the potential Samson had, how God wanted him to be the means of deliverance from the Philistines. For much of his life, we may wonder why God stuck with this wayward man who never did quite live up to his potential (see Judges 15:20) … but that leads us to even greater riddles than Samson brought.
Why God sticks with flawed, sinful people and chooses to work out His plans and purposes through them is a mystery. Jesus continues to use flawed, sinful people such as us to fulfil His purposes, and is Himself proof of God’s riddle of grace. This grace is completely undeserved and cannot be earned, yet God’s unconditional love, grace and mercy reach out to each one of us – not once, but repeatedly, picking us up each time we fail, just as God persevered with Samson. The question ‘what is sweeter than honey?’ could be answered by the words ‘the love of God’. God is there with each one of us just as He was there with Samson, still working for our good and to fulfil His purposes which cannot be thwarted.