Judges 16

Judges 16 Devotional
By Pastor Lawrence

Unlike Joshua and his fellow spies, Samson doesn’t visit the house of the prostitute on a reconnaissance mission. No, he has fallen in love with a forbidden woman after sowing his royal oats freely throughout the land. Of course, Sampson’s folly isn’t really unique in that regard, but his case stands out particularly because he is one of the saviors/judges of Israel that is called not only to sanctify his people Israel but to deliver them from the enemy, yet here he is getting into bed with the enemy. At this point in the book of Judges, the devolution of the leaders of Israel is truly a sad thing to see, for other than Othniel, the first judge mentioned in the book, the rest of these leaders look nothing like Joshua but instead reflect the spiritual weakness and foolishness of God’s chosen people.

In 1 Corinthians 10:6ff the apostle Paul points out that many of the failures of Israel occurring in the Old Testament took place “as examples for us that we might not desire evil as they did, that we might not be idolaters and pursue sexual immorality as they did and consequently put Christ to the test.” And he gives us this warning, “therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Of course, not everyone at every stage of life struggles with the same sins and temptations, thus Sampson’s particular follies may not be the same as yours and mine, but we all have a fleshly tendency to flirt with evil. It’s interesting, the name Sampson means “like the sun,” and although Delilah’s Philistine name signifies one that is delicate, in the Hebrew language, it is a derivate of the word for “night.” So the writer of Judges seems to be suggesting that the sun got into bed with a seemingly “delicate” darkness which led to his downfall and ultimately to his death.

Surprisingly, probably for many of us, it was not Sampson’s weakness that led to his downfall, but rather his reliance upon his strength. When we know that we are weak and recognize the dangers all around us, we are likely to look outside of ourselves for help, for wisdom and security. As Solomon says in Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Sometimes we can tell when others are proud by their proud words and actions, but we don’t always know what’s going on in their hearts. The best indicator of pride in our own hearts is when we do not feel the need to pray nor look to the Lord for daily wisdom and strength. The problem is that Sampson began to trust in the strength that the Lord had given him rather than the Lord who had given him his strength. Hand in hand with this disordered trust came a disordered love. Instead of loving the Lord with all his heart, Sampson had begun loving an enemy of the Lord with more and more of his heart that undermined his calling, his priorities and his very mission.

Sampson, the tragic hero of Israel, is certainly not meant to be our model for ministry or the Christian life. He is not the promised savior even though he did get the last laugh in this instance with the deaths of so many Philistines. No Jesus would not come in outward strength but in weakness to teach us not to rely upon ourselves. Instead, he came in the resplendent power of holiness and love to show us the sanctity of light to overcome the darkness. We do not have this power and purity within us, for it only comes from God, which is why we need a powerful savior, a holy sanctifier, a compassionate lover, and a sympathetic high priest. It is only as we love and trust that savior that we will be able to sanctify each day unto the Lord.