Judges 16:18 (The Message)
When Delilah realized that he had told her his secret, she sent for the Philistine tyrants, telling them, “Come quickly - this time he’s told me the truth.” They came, bringing the bribe money.
....And with that, as we all know, Samson’s fate was sealed. I’m thinking that there are not too many people who don’t know the story of Samson. But, like all biblical stories, we only know the basic parts: strong because of his hair, he falls in love with Delilah who coaxes the secret of his strength out of him and he gets revenge by growing his hair back and kills those who had bound him. But if you read the four chapters of Judges that deal with Samson, you find basic human foolishness, stupidity, depravity, cluelessness all wrapped up in irony.
Samson is supposed to be a holy man, a Nazirite blessed by God. In reality he is something that I cannot talk about in a family friendly devotional. It’s probably why he is not honestly portrayed in children’s stories, VBS programs, and musicals. Then, by the time we’re adults, we don’t WANT to know the truth about Samson because we just don’t want to think that the Bible would even allow the story of someone so stupid to be published.
Alas, there it is. Scholars have long wondered why these stories are in the Bible. Perhaps it was the perpetual hatred for the Philistines. Maybe it was to show that all humans are fallible. My Old Testament professor at dear old Duke said the Samson stories were perhaps the first example of ethnic humor that permeates so much of humanity. I remember reading through these stories with a group of Bible study ladies at one of my churches and the women all started laughing as we read them...unprovoked by any comments from me.
Despite what you might have learned in Sunday School, there is nothing redeeming about anything in these stories. But yet, that may be the most redeeming thing about it. If God can love Samson, if Samson can do “God’s work” (but even THAT is suspect), then God can love us and we can do God’s work. Humanity right now is being cut to the quick. So much is being laid bare by politics and virus warnings. Do you know that 90% of all political spending (these lovely commercials we see) in the whole country is being spent in the swing states. If you live in California or Alabama or New York or North Dakota, you’re seeing hardly any commercials. So we are simply being overwhelmed in these parts. Humanity is not being redeemed. Irony rules the day.
But if God can love Samson, God can love us. I mean, compared to Samson, we have it made in the shade. He is the quintessential frat boy portrayed in comedic movies. And he is done in by women time and time again. So every time I think there might be no hope for humanity, the Samson stories come along...and I read them again...and I know we always have a chance. We’ve always had a chance and we’ll always have a chance.
The fourth verse of “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” (not the one by Hillsong, the one by Charles Wesley) says it pretty well:
Plenteous Grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart, rise to all eternity. Amen.
Pastor Rick Moser