Day 17

Samson’s Riddle

from the reading plan

Judges 14:1-20, Isaiah 11:1-5, Matthew 13:10-17

My son is three years old, and he is wholly governed by his desires. When he sees something that he wants, he strives to take it. In his limited understanding, that is how a person should act: we see something good, we take it for ourselves. Over time, through the process of maturation, we learn to govern our actions according to ideas and principles that are beyond our basic instincts. However, we never perfectly leave behind our childish ways.

Samson, like so many of us, still operated on sight alone. He saw a Philistine woman that he liked, so he sought to take her as his own (Judges 14:2). Samson’s youthful passion blinded him to all reason and duty. In many ways, he was like the lion that suddenly appeared on the road to Timnah. Both creatures were untamable, governed by their desire and instinct. Was this really the man who would save Israel from their enemies? 

Surprisingly, he was. The Spirit was moving in and through Samson to bring about the will of the Lord (vv.4,6,19). Like Samson, Israel had all but wedded herself to the Philistines. Though an unlikely candidate for deliverer, Samson’s immaturity would be leveraged by God to liberate His people from underneath the boot of the Philistines. 

As grisly a story as this is, it demonstrates a comforting truth about how the Lord works. Our weakness, even our faults, cannot deter His salvific plans. Samson was not a worthy judge, but apart from Jesus, were any of the biblical heroes all that worthy? No! All throughout Scripture, we see the same pattern play out again and again: God moves His redemptive plans forward through the lives of deeply flawed human beings. And that is such good news for us. 

No one in this story knew they were being used as agents of God’s deliverance, but we do know. We know that God has called us to be a part of His rescue plan, and we know that He has empowered us by His Spirit for that purpose. We know that the same Spirit that filled Christ lives in us—“the Spirit of wisdom and understanding…of counsel and strength…of knowledge and the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:2). We know that the Father has given us the “secrets of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11). Yes, we are flawed. Yes, we are immature; but even still, God is faithful to His promises. Samson lost sight of those promises. I pray that we do not.

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