He knew who he was, he just chose to ignore it. Aware of where he’d come from, he didn’t really want it to impact where he was going. Able to articulate his roots, but not all that willing to live in light of who he was. As I chew on the life of Samson this morning, I can’t help but think this guy was a really complex character.
The fingerprints of the Almighty are all over him. From his divine birth announcement to his parents by the angel of the LORD Himself (Judges 13), to God’s calling on his life as an instrument to “begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (13:5), to the number of times it is recorded that the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon Samson to allow him to wage war against the enemy (14:6, 14:19, 15:14)–all of it pointing to Samson being God’s man for God’s purposes at God’s time.
But what a train wreck this guy’s life was. Having a divine calling, he subjects it to his own lustful desires. Given a platform for deliverance, he instead plays silly games. Endowed with great power, he recklessly presumes upon it so that he can pursue the world’s pleasures.
God gets done what God wants to get done through Samson’s life, but it’s almost in spite of Samson. Mission accomplished, but the missionary was a mess.
Like I said, kind of complex.
And what’s hit me this morning is the tragedy of living outside of legacy.
And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. . . No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”
(Judges 13:3, 5b ESV)
And [Samson] told [Delilah] 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 mothers womb.”
(Judges 16:17a ESV)
He knew!!! That’s what hits me between the eyes. When Samson finally caves to Delilah’s incessant, sensual interrogation, when he carelessly open his heart to her, it’s clear he knew who he was and why he had been born. His parents had done their job. They had brought him up “in the way he should go” and when he was at the end of the life he didn’t depart from it (Pr. 22:6). He knew his calling, he knew his legacy. But he chose to live most of his life outside of that legacy.
That he was to be devoted to God was part of his DNA, but he chose to desire foreign women anyway. That he was to pursue holiness had been drilled into him, but defiling himself with what was unclean made more practical sense. That God would have him be a deliverer had been the stuff of bedtime stories as kid, but that he would desire forbidden fruit had been the bedmates for most of his life.
To be sure, you read this story and you’re reminded again that a sovereign God will accomplish His sovereign purposes in whatever sovereign manner He chooses. But you can’t help but wonder, “What if?” What if Samson had been happy to be God’s guy, doing God’s work, God’s way?
Instead, there’s just a sense of tragedy when reflecting on the life of someone who knew better, but lived worse. A mighty man who became a shadow of a figure because he settled for rewards far below his high and holy calling.
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
(1Corinthians 10:11-12 ESV)
We too are people of a high and holy calling. Set apart from birth. Our DNA wired for holiness and power through regeneration of the Spirit. Given everything we need to participate in the divine nature and partake in His divine mission. More than conquerors in Him, even if, sometimes, despite ourselves.
But oh, to know the blessing of living in light of our legacy.
By His grace. For His glory.