Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Redeeming Samson

After studying Judges 13-16, one might conclude that a character like Samson is beyond redemption. He does not observe his vows. He repeatedly exposes both his heart and his countrymen to the enemy. He is ruled by his passions, and he thinks mainly of himself. Even his prayers betray a self-centeredness.
And yet, here are some points that I call, "Redeeming Samson:"
1. It seems that Judges 14-15 recite events at the beginning of Samson's 20-year "reign," and that the events of chapter 16 relate events at the end of that 20-year period. We don't know how Samson worshipped or behaved during the intervening period.
If only the two worst moments of the past 20 years of your life were known, what would people think of you? While it is true that Samson may have been always willful and sinful, perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt.
2. God had a larger purpose. In Judges 13, God told Samson's mother that Samson would begin to deliver the people from the Philistines. As we read further, we find that it is left to a greater king, David, to finally deliver Israel from this threat. But it may be that God was delaying the Philistine advance through Samson until such a time that this nation could unite and defend against this enemy.
Samson was God's chosen instrument. Maybe he wasn't the best of instruments. But we had better be careful about discounting what God has chosen to use.
3. Samson shows up in the "Hall of Faith," Hebrews 11. He shows up next to Gideon, Barak, and Jephthah, all of whom had less than perfect faith. But it seems that all, including Samson, learned at some point that they must trust Someone other than themselves, and they did so.
4. When in trouble, Samson prayed. Do you? No, his prayers were not perfect. But he prayed. It was the right thing to do.
In the end, we can speak of "Redeeming Samson," not because of anything good in Samson, but because of everything good in God. God justifies the ungodly. Jesus saves sinners. And so, Samson qualifies. He is not beyond redemption.
We often say that Jesus saves us from sin and from Satan. But Samson needed to be saved from himself. In a sense, he was his own worst enemy. Perhaps you and I can relate. And I am glad that Jesus saves sinners from themselves.

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