Dave preached from Judges 14 yesterday morning, looking at the enigmatic story of Samson (or ‘little sun’, as his name meant.) Even from before his birth, he was meant to be a shining example to God’s people – ‘he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines’. The pattern in Judges was sadly that ‘everyone did what was right in their own eyes’. Some enemy would oppress Israel, who would cry out to God. God would raise up a judge or deliverer and for a time there would peace, but the people would quickly fall back into idolatry. Samson, whose birth was announced by an angel, promised much, and is often portrayed as some kind of superhero, with super-strength, but so often he seems an enigma to us. The picture shows a typical scene from his life, when he wrestles and kills a lion, but what can we really learn from this ‘blundering buffoon’?

Samson is more a mirror of his own people than a typical judge. Israel is not really complaining about Philistine oppression at this time; Samson’s trysts with Philistine lovers mirror how the Israelites caved into Philistine culture and religion. His compulsive sexuality and violence mirrors a people who did what was right in their own eyes. His blundering and stupidity and finally his real (and symbolic) blindness mirrors the spiritual stupidity and blindness of his people. He is not so much a leader as a reflection of them.

Yet this begs the question, why did God bother with such a man? Why does God use flawed people to bring about His purposes? (for Judges 14:4 makes it clear that God was involved in all of this action.) Judges 14 shows us some of Samson’s ‘riddles’ and we are left pondering the greatest riddle of all, the riddle of grace.

God chose Samson, flaws and all, to serve Him in his own generation and to be a picture of Israel and their relationship to God. Every one of us is a flawed character and God has chosen to use us to fulfil His purposes in our own generation. Jesus does remember us. The riddle of God’s grace is the conundrum of God working through very imperfect people, like Samson and like you and me. What is sweeter than wordly pleasures or stronger than the power of sin? The love of God, of course.