Monday, June 21, 2010

Samson, a man of faith!?!

A long long time ago, my English Pastor wore a wig on the pulpit.  It was pretty funny.  The sermon was about how Samson's strength is not from his hair but from God.

(Source: Wikipedia)

In most of the lessons I learnt, whether  from Sunday School or fellowship, at the end of it is that we shouldn't be like Samson.  After all, we had one of the judges who kept disobeying God.

He married a Philistine (Israelites at that time are not suppose to have foreign relationships) [Judges 14:3]
He ate honey from a lion carcass when he is not suppose to touch from the dead or unclean (look at Judges 13:5, then Judges 14:8).
He slept with a prostitute (Judges 16:1).

It came to the point that even the Lord left him (Judges 16:20)

The lesson often ended with Samson captured by Philistines and was punished for his disobedience.

Lesson? Don't be a Samson.  Obey the Lord.....


Today during the sermon, the guest speaker preached on Hebrews 11.  There was one passage that caught my eyes:

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 

The author of Hebrews put Samson on the same level as Gideon, David, Samuel and other prophets.  If Samson is such a bad example, why did author of Hebrews do that?

When we look at Samson's life, we should also look at the end.
Then Samson prayed to the LORD, "O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes." Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

I want to highlight the text -> please strengthen me just once more.  This is a clear indication that Samson realized his strength came from the Lord, not from himself.

If we roll back a few chapters when the prostitute asked him what's his source of power, this was his reply:

..If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.

So what's the lesson....a big lesson is God's character.  He gives so much grace. He even give Samson strength to do what he wished at the end.

We also see Samson's change of heart.  He rose as a judge and disobeyed God and relied on himself.  It was at the end when he realized his strength came from above.  From self-centered to God-centered.

I am still pondering what the author of Hebrews is considering Samson as.  In verse 32, he listed out six people:  Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel...

In verse 33-34, he listed accomplishments through faith:
  • conquered kingdoms
  •  administered justice
  • gained what was promised 
  • who shut the mouths of lions
  • quenched the fury of the flames
  • escaped the edge of the sword
  • whose weakness was turned to strength
I wonder if the list of names is related to the list of accomplishments. Wonder what Samson's accomplishment was....

Today, I am changed by the perspective of who Samson was.  What a beautiful story.  A man that was as far away from God, through a changed of heart, ended his life to be considered as a man of faith.

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