August 16, 2020

The Story of Samson: "O Lord God, Remember Me"

Scripture Reading: Judges 16:23-31

From the time before Samson was born, the true God of heaven and earth has been at work for the salvation of his people. Samson was chosen, called, and set apart for service to the Lord. His life began with an Annunciation from the angel of the Lord to his mother saying, “Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son.” “The child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” When Samson’s mother tells this good news to her husband she added something to the words of the angel that we might not have noticed. In Judges 13:7 she says to him, “the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.” These words from Samson’s mother indicate that she knows from the beginning that Samson will never die apart from his special bond to the Lord. He is and will remain God’s chosen judge and savior of God’s people. We know Samson will die, but it will be as a person consecrated and set apart for the Lord’s service. This truth is now working in the background of the scene that begins our reading from Judges 16:23-31.


Questions:

Who betrayed Samson? What has happened to him?
What’s wrong with this service of praise and thanks that begins our reading for today?

Michael Wilcock writes, “They knew nothing of the God who does the unexpected, whose strength is made perfect in weakness, and who never breaks his word.” God never breaks his Word and even though Judges 16:20 says the Lord departed from Samson after his hair was cut, the bond between God and his Judge was never completely severed. Our reading finished the last time in Judges 16:22 by telling us the hair on Samson’s head began to grow again. This means grace is at work in this story. There is nothing magical about Samson’s hair because it is not the source of his great strength. In this story we have learned that it was the Spirit of the Lord who would “rush upon him” and empower him to great feats of strength.

Questions:

What does Samson ask the young man who is leading him to do for him?
How will this lead to the final showdown between Dagon and the true God?

In the end, Samson prays, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Once again Samson’s prayer is both pious and a bit self-centered. It’s a prayer for strength and vengeance. He acknowledges he is only strong if the Lord gives him strength because there is nothing magical about his hair. But Samson also wants revenge for his “two eyes”.

Questions:

How have Samson’s eyes figured into this story already?
How is Samson’s prayer like the prayers of all who seek the Lord and desire his salvation?
How does the story of Samson hold up a mirror to us? In what ways are we like him?

The story of Samson is a salvation story. The life and times of Samson are not first of all about him. This story is about what the true God of heaven and earth has done for his people, his Church in giving Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord. Samson is a less than perfect Savior whose life points ahead to Christ who is the perfect Savior. In the end he prays, “O Lord God, please remember me” and God remembers his servant. The words of Jesus to the thief on the cross next to him should be heard as words of comfort for Samson and all of us who cry out to be remembered. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” In death he finds victory. In the death and resurrection of Jesus we are given total victory.

The Conclusion:

There is a temptation to be very simplistic in how we read the story of Samson. Don’t moralize the story. Samson is not the hero, God is. Samson is not a bad example or a good example. He is God’s chosen person to bring him glory. The story calls us to worship and praise the God who has revealed to us his grace in Jesus Christ. True worship is given to the God who has revealed himself in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of this, don’t buy into false, simplified, superficial, human centered worship. It will collapse. Look into the mirror and see what God in his grace has done by grace. Make this Truth the center of your family life. Impress this upon your children and grandchildren. Don’t sell out because in the darkness there is light. The Kingdom of God is coming in fullness and glory. Here we find New Life in a New Creation. Amen.