Judges 16:1-31, Jeremiah 15:15–16, Hebrews 11:32–38
The Samson story hurts my heart. Reading it today, it struck a particular nerve. Let me try to explain what I mean. One thing I see in my own heart, and in the culture all around me, is a tendency to treat almost everything as a potential punch line to a joke. I worry that we don’t take enough of life seriously, and as a result, don’t take our own lives seriously.
Samson was a man with a gift—a God-given gift. In the story of Delilah’s attempt to seduce him to learn the source of his strength, Samson treats this God-given power as a curiosity or a parlor trick. It’s almost like he and Delilah are playing a cat-and-mouse game, and he’s just messing with her.
Samson doesn’t seem to regard his power as a gift to be used. He doesn’t seem to care that Delilah has openly told him she wants to learn how to break him. He doesn’t seem to revere the Lord much at all. We all know the type—the person born with a gift, who seems bent on squandering it for personal pleasure. It’s a hollow existence.
This struck a nerve with me today because I believe we live in an age when reverence is in decline. I worry how this loss of a sense of the sacred is shaping us as people and as a society.
When Samson finally tells Delilah his secret—that his strength is in his hair—two things happen. First, Delilah gets to work stripping Samson of his gift. And second, we discover that Samson didn’t understand his gift. Judges 16:20 tells us that when Samson’s hair was cut off, it wasn’t his strength that left him; it was actually the Lord’s strength that left him. Samson’s strength was not merely physical. It was spiritual.
God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. We can rest in knowing this is true because He has purchased us by the blood of Christ and we are now and forever His. The deal is done. But God also tells us that when we bury our talents or use His gifts for our own pleasure at the expense of others, it is possible that His discipline will be to remove those gifts, or at least the opportunity to use them. I don’t want to live that way, but I see the potential for that in my heart. I bet you do too.
As you read this story about a very familiar character in Scripture, examine your own heart before the Lord. Do you treat sacred gifts as playthings? Do you use your unique abilities to exploit others, or to serve them? Do you treat your talents and gifts as personal traits, or as resources for the good of those around you? Our gifts don’t come from ourselves. They come from the Lord. May we take that truth seriously, and use our gifts for the good of others and for the glory of God.
Written by Russ Ramsey