In many ways, he had it all. If there was ever a child of privilege . . . a man of heavenly calling . . . someone who had been given all the tools to succeed, then it was him. But in the end, his life was pretty much a train wreck.
Though he was announced by the angel of the LORD at his birth, called to be a child of promise and destiny . . . he concluded his life mocked by Philistines, an object of trite entertainment. Though he was raised in the context of a vow of dedication and consecration . . . the allure of the world was what ultimately compelled him and eventually consumed him. Though he had the strength of a dozen men . . . though he could take out a battalion of men with but the jawbone of a donkey . . . he could not stand against a lone woman. Though he was blessed of God from birth . . . he died blind and in bondage.
And as I noodle on the life of Samson this morning, I can’t help but ask again, “What went wrong?”
Sure God’s purposes concerning the Philistines were accomplished through Samson . . . but you gotta know this wasn’t “Plan A.” Not saying that God was caught off guard and had to figure out a way to make lemonade from the lemons of Samson’s life . . . God is sovereign, knowing the end from the beginning. But I have to wonder how the story might have played out if Samon’s Nazirite vow had come down to something more than just the hair on his head . . . if, instead, it had been more of a heat in his heart.
And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.” . . . And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:15, 17)
When Samson finally revealed his heart to the persistent and treacherous Delilah, he talked about his head. When pressed to declare his inner soul, he confessed a strength dependent upon his hair. That’s what the vow had essentially become for Samson . . . a set of rules manifest in outward appearance. Hair on his head . . . but no heat in his heart.
And it causes me to praise God for the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I too am a child of promise . . . a man with a heavenly calling. Blessed with every blessing in heavenly places, I too have been given all the tools to participate in the divine nature. But apart from a dynamic which goes beyond a head knowledge of these things, blindness and bondage are just as likely an outcome for me as it was for Samson. Apart from a new heart as a result of rebirth . . . apart from an inner heat generated by the life giving power of the Spirit . . . I’m just as likely to embrace the enemies of the world around me . . . just as prone to follow the lustful drive of the flesh . . . just as likely to end up blind and in bondage.
But in the gospel there is power because it goes beyond what I know in my head and is manifest in what God has done in my heart. It is the power to overcome the world . . . to finish well . . . to stand with eyes wide open in freedom as we anticipate resurrection victory. It is the power of One who has defeated sin and death . . . a power not found in head knowledge but in changed hearts . . . a power not manifest in the external, but evident in what compels the inner man.
Praise God for heat in the heart.
It is found in Him alone . . . through Him alone . . . and by His grace alone.
To Him be all glory . . .