They gouged his eyes out. They were actually doing him a favor. If only he had seen that.
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.”
(Matthew 5:29 ESV)
Hovering over the story of Samson this morning. What a sad, sad tale. That Samson has been the hero of so many flannel graphs and Sunday School stories is a bit mystifying. That Delilah should be demonized, and Samson counted the victim, seems a little weird.
This guy who was foretold of the LORD (Jud. 13), born of the LORD (Jud. 13:2-3, 24), consecrated to the LORD (Jud. 13:5), empowered by the LORD (Jud. 14:6, 19; 15:14), rarely, it would seem, ever called upon the LORD — and that only when he was in distress (Jud. 15:18). For, though he knew his power came from God (Jud. 16:17), he owned it as his own and it sourced his licentious pursuit of whatever his eyes desired.
He saw one of the daughters of the Philistines and demanded his parents get her for him as his wife (Jud. 14:1-2). Though such a marriage was forbidden by God (Deut. 7:3-4), yet she was “right in Samson’s eyes” (Jud. 14:7). So, they forced a marriage which never should have happened and it was a disaster.
Later Samson saw a prostitute and this “holy, set apart” man of God defiled himself because of what his eyes lusted after (Jud. 16:1). And then, “he loved” Delilah, a seductress (Jud. 16:4-5). Hinting that she too was pretty appealing to the eyes.
Samson saw and Samson took. The power he possessed as separated unto God used to steamroll through whatever obstacles lay in the path his eyes chose. So, in a sense, removing his eyes may have actually led to him seeing clearly for the first time in his life.
But even that doesn’t seem to have been the case.
Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “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.”
(Judges 16:28 ESV)
When Samson does cry out to the Lord, there’s no evidence of remorse, contrition, or repentance. Only revenge. Wanting for himself what God said was His to determine (Deut. 32:35a, Rom. 12:19). For while Samson’s eyes may have caused him to sin, it was his heart that was the source of his sin.
Thus, while God accomplished His purposes through Samson’s life (Jud. 14:4), it was in spite of Samson’s leering eyes, not because of his loyal service.
Though Samson did not take his holy calling seriously, though he leveraged the power of God for his own lustful satisfaction, though his life came off the rails and was a train wreck, though he was the “poster child” for a people who had received God’s provision yet rejected God ways, “everyone doing what was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 21:25), yet God answered Samson’s prayer as a way to show a wayward people, if they would notice, that He would not leave them nor forsake them.
If only they had eyes to see.
Eyes to recognize the abundance of God’s grace. Eyes to walk in a way which would bring God glory.