August 9, 2020

The Story of Samson: "All His Heart"

Scripture Reading: Judges 16:1-22
“And he told her all his heart”. When Samson’s heart is poured out, it speaks truth. If Samson has been a less than perfect savior, if his passion has been for the wrong thing, if his reluctance to be a Judge stems from his reluctance to be under the authority of God’s Word, in his most inner self he remembers and knows who he is and to whom he belongs. God never quits his commitment to his servant. It turns out, Samson has not quit either – or at least not completely.
In our reading today, a new woman has entered Samson’s life and her name is Delilah. Samson loves Delilah. However, we are never told that she loves him. Samson is driven, first of all, by his passion for women. Delilah also has her passions and when they are put into operation, they will lead to the downfall and eventual triumph of the Judge.

Questions:
How does Judges 16 begin? How does Samson escape that little escapade?
How do the Philistines encourage Delilah to find out where Samson’s great strength lies?

When we read the offer from the Philistines to Delilah in Judges 16:5 we should notice that it is dripping with irony. The Philistines have no idea what they are up against. Where does Samson’s strength lie? With the power of the Holy Spirit who comes upon him. How might they bind him? Samson is already bound to a vow that says he belongs to God. How might they humble him? The Lord has already demonstrated that he can humble Samson as he did in the previous chapter when Samson was dying of thirst following his victory with the jawbone of a donkey. What the Philistines do not know, what Delilah does not know, is that they are picking a fight with the God of Samson. This is the God who will not quit. This is the God who will see to it that his plan for the salvation of his people will carry through to the end. Judges 16:5 is laughable.

Questions:
In what Psalm do we read that God “laughs” at the plans of those who think they can de-throne his Anointed One?
How does Delilah wear down Samson in order to learn the secret of his great strength?

God preserves his own. Even though as sinners we will always run away from God and his grace, God never quits on us – even when we are stupid and foolish. Samson’s life is a mirror for us as the people of God. There will never be a holy union between God’s people and the world, between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. When you choose the wrong partner, disaster will follow. Samson reveals his true self and it’s a means of power in the hands of the enemy. Delilah says to the Philistines, “Come up again, for he has told me all his heart.” The words of Psalm 52:2 can be applied to Delilah, “Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.”
Delilah’s razor is the weapon that will incapacitate the son of God. When trouble comes, Samson wakes up and we hear some of the saddest words in this story. Samson says, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” However, it will not work. The vow has been severed. We read, “But he did not know that the LORD had left him. And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles.” And there we have it: the downfall of the Judge.

Questions:
What is the picture we have of Samson at the end of our reading?
What does the name “Delilah” mean? How does its meaning fit into this story?
Where is the Gospel Word found in our reading today?

The Conclusion:
Judges 16:22 is a small glimpse of grace into a story that is by all human accounts about a man now good as dead. Samson has given “all his heart” to the wrong person, but God has given “all his heart” to us. Grace comes to the hopeless, to those who cannot save themselves. God is the Hidden Agent in Christ in the story of Samson. Through the mess of sin, God’s plan for the salvation of his people is at work. God has poured out his love for his people through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. God will not quit on us. God will not abandon us to the powers of this world. As Peter said in his letter, “God has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Samson’s story is not over because God is not finished with him. And this God continues to be at work in the world today. New Life in a New Creation is coming. In Christ God has given “all his heart”. Amen