The year was 1100 B.C. and Israel had high hopes for Samson whose story is recorded in Judges 13-16. Oppressed by the enemy Philistines, the nation needed a deliverer and Samson seemed to have all the right stuff. A “freak of nature,” he possessed uncommon physical strength and the courage to go with it. His heroics are legendary. Samson’s bold, free-wheeling style captures our fancy. Movies have been made depicting his exploits.
However, Samson also had a glaring weakness. He looked for love in all the wrong places. His marriage to a young Philistine bride lasted less than a week. He consorted with a Philistine prostitute. He ultimately sold his soul, along with the secret of his strength to Delilah, a Philistine seductress. Subsequently, he was captured, blinded, and incarcerated in a Philistine prison. He became the object of their ridicule and scorn. So much for fulfilling his potential and living up to the expectations of his parents and the nation.
But just when all seemed lost, God, the real hero of this story, gets involved. Samson prays for one final burst of strength and God redeems his squandered life. Samson heaves against the pillars of the Philistine temple of Dagon, their false god, and the entire structure collapses on the 3,000 jeering spectators and Samson himself, killing them all. In spite of his recklessness and moral failure, Hebrews 11, the faith chapter of the NT, in v. 32, mentions Samson as a person of faith, “whose weakness was turned to strength” (v. 34). This is a testimonial to the grace of God, who didn’t give up on Samson or His people, and who, according to the prophet, Joel, “restores the years that the locusts have eaten.” Isn’t it just like God, to surprise us with His mercy and grace?
Sometimes we view our failures and shortcomings as the final word in our lives. We think, “With everything I had going for myself, how could I have blown it so badly?” We beat ourselves up with guilt and hopelessness takes over. If the story of Samson teaches us anything it’s this: Before we gaze too intently inward, we must first look outside ourselves, to the cross, to what Jesus has done for us in shedding His blood for our sins. As we focus on the cross and remember Jesus’ finished work on our behalf, our weakness is turned to strength. God gives us what we need to live for His glory. It’s not about us fulfilling expectations or living up to our potential. Jesus has done that for us. Our strength is in Him. Jesus is enough.