What does it say?
The Philistines are the oppressors here (Jud 13), and the tribe of Dan occupies the spotlight through chapter 18. The angel of the Lord appears to Manoah’s barren wife announcing that she will give birth to a son who will be Nazarite (Num 6) for life. Manoah desperately wants to meet the divine messenger who appeared to his wife. His prayer is answered and Manoah realizes that God himself has appeared to them. The child is born and named Samson.
God chose Samson to deliver Israel from the Philistines, but Samson instead takes a Philistine wife (Jud 14). Samson has an eye for women, a penchant for riddles, supernatural strength and a temper. Samson returns mad to his father’s house before consummating his marriage, and his wife is given to his companion.
Returning for his bride, Samson discovers her father gave her to his friend. Furious, Samson takes vengeance by tying 300 foxes together by the tails and torches the Philistine corn crop. The Philistines burn Samson’s wife and father-in-law, and the fearful men of Judah try to deliver him to the Philistines. In supernatural strength, Samson kills 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass.
What does it mean?
Samson has a godly heritage, supernatural birth and a divine calling and enablement. However, the same can be said about every Israelite and every Christian. We all have potential; the issue is how faithfully we obey God.
In spite of supernatural power and having been designated as God’s deliverer for Israel, Samson is a man motivated by fleshly and selfish desires and has an anger problem. Samson is to be the deliverer from the Philistines, yet he never engages the Philistines as military leader. All his battles and victories against the Philistines are personal in nature and motivated by pride and self-centeredness. Mission failure!
However, God even uses Samson’s carnality, sin and selfishness to bring his judgment on the Philistines. Nothing and no one can prevent God’s mission from being completed. And, God continues to use seriously flawed people at every step of the way. Samson will suffer the consequences of his horrible choices in life and his life will end in tragedy and thoughts of what might have been. He will win victory over the Philistines, but in weakness, not strength.
How will I respond?
Is there an aspect of sin, selfishness or carnal desire preventing me from reaching God’s full potential for my life? My fulfillment and joy depend upon my right relationship to God and my full engagement in his mission.