Today is the last day of October, the last day of this series and I can think of no better person to end on than Samson. Talk about going out with a bang!
Samson was what I like to call a “hot mess express”. If you haven’t ever read his story, or haven’t read it in a while, I encourage you to check it out, it’s found in Judges 14-16 and is essentially the Biblical version of a soap opera.
Throughout the story there are two recorded prayers Samson utters and I want to dig into these two conversations this man had with God.
The first one is found in Judges 15. Samson had just killed 1,000 Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone (how that works, I don’t know) and he was thirsty, a natural response to such a strenuous bout of activity, so this was his prayer:
“You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” (Judges 15:18 ESV)
Then Samson gets in bed with a woman who was less than his best choice and experiences loads of suffering because of it. He is captured by the enemy he was created to defeat, his eyes are gouged out, he is forced to work in the prison, and becomes the laughing stock of the Philistines. This mighty warrior has been reduced to rubble.
“Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Judges 16:28-30 (ESV)
I’m so struck by the difference in these two prayers. In the first prayer I see a man who didn’t understand or appreciate what he had been given. He had no reverence for God or the purpose on his life. Samson was all about himself and his selfish desires. He wasn’t a good leader.
At the end of his life, he was willing to sacrifice himself for the purposes of God to be achieved – I don’t think the Samson we met in previous chapters would’ve been willing to do such a heroic thing. It’s easy to think that Samson sacrificed himself because he had nothing left to lose, but I don’t think that’s it. The Spirit of the Lord had returned to him again and I believe, through that process, he had a heart change. He was no longer focused on himself but understood that God wanted to use him to procure peace in the land.
When I look back over my life I see intense bouts of selfishness – honestly, I’m still pretty selfish today. Many of my prayers are self-centered, my actions are often focused on self, and I am not always willing to sacrifice. But I do see improvement. When I thumb through old prayer journals or notes in my Bible, I see a difference in how I react to God. While I’m still not the most selfless, the most obedient, or the most sacrificial, I’m not where I used to be. I am, and always will be, a work in progress.
What are you willing to sacrifice in response to God’s word? Do you have a tendency to respond to God’s word or promise with the mindset of selfishness or selflessness?
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