Discover His Heart: He is the God of mercy, patient beyond measure
Unlike all my friends, I wasn’t waiting with breathless anticipation for the day I would be licensed to drive a car. I must admit I didn’t mind at all having my mom or friends drive me where I needed to go, and I guess this doesn’t speak well of my character. But I think my greatest hindrance to being licensed was the driving test. I knew I would be all over the written test with ease, but the driving test with its parallel parking portion was worrisome to me – where was the Mini Cooper when I needed it? The thought of crunching one of those orange cones filled me with anxiety until someone explained to me that if I failed, I could take the test again! Mercy! I just love mercy! And I love the mercy that God extends to each one of us as He did to Samson in our reading today.
The story of Samson, a judge in Israel, is heart-wrenching. Samson was born and dedicated to God’s service as a Nazirite with a calling to deliver Israel from the Philistines, but he resisted his purpose. Although Samson wore all the outward signs of one set apart, with his long hair and brute strength, he so often did not bear the heart of one.
Samson certainly showed faith in God’s Spirit in him when he took on the lion and 30 Philistine men, but he revealed himself to be self-centered and willful when he married from the very group he was sent to destroy. The word audacity comes to mind when I read Samson’s story, yet all of us are attracted at one time or another to the very thing that will do us the most harm. Just a side note, the fact that Samson called his wife a heifer, well, that pretty much nailed his coffin for me.
@ Judges 16
Each willful decision brought Samson closer to destruction. The playful cat and mouse game with Delilah ended badly for him, “Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair. In this way she began to bring him down, and his strength left him. Then she cried out, ‘Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!’ When he woke up, he thought, ‘I will do as before and shake myself free.’ But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him.” (19-20) Samson lost his hair, his strength, his eyes, but more importantly, He lost the Lord’s presence in his life.
To wake up one day without the nearness of His presence is a thought that drives me to my knees. I cry with David, “Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.” (Psalm 51:11-12)
Fortunately, Samson’s story doesn’t end here because hair grows back and God forgives when we repent of our sins. Samson’s hair came back and so did his strength, but it was his prayer that got God’s attention. “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” (28) And Samson “killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.” (30)
Samson’s life was filled with disobedience and selfishness, but somehow he garnered the privilege of rubbing shoulders with the Biblical greats in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith through his renewed faith in God’s mercy. Though the road to his purpose had its share of potholes and detours, Samson was given one more opportunity to accomplish what he had been born to do when his death began the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines. A life of folly was transformed to a life of faith when he prayed, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again…”
Moving Forward: I will run from the attractive things that seek to do me harm and rob me of my spiritual strength. If I fail, with its consequences, I will run to the God of mercy and cry with a heart of repentance, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again.”
Tomorrow @ Psalm 21-23