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THE MESSY STORY

Olympian victories require Olympian prayers

Do you remember the story of Samson, the guy with incredible Olympian strength and really long hair? Or you may be familiar with Delilah, the temptress who helped lead the way to Samson’s downfall. This rather messy story is recorded in Judges 13-16 beginning with an older childless couple who we will call “Mr. &Mrs. M”. One day an angel appeared to Mrs. M and let her know that she would bear a son who “will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines” and he would be a “Nazirite of God from birth until the day of his death”. 

“Nazirite” means “separated or dedicated”. Mr. & Mrs. knew that this child would be special from day #1 and they probably felt they hit the jackpot when Samson was born. The early years gave great promise when it says, “He (Samson) grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him.” If there would have had Olympics in those days, Samson would have been covered with gold medals.

However, as Samson grew up, things appeared to go seriously sideways. As he aged, their son developed an awful taste in women. Samson went for the wild ones, the women that most sons would have been embarrassed at the prospect of bringing home to “meet the folks”. Furthermore, Samson didn’t respond kindly to his parents in 14:3 when they dared question Samson’s choice of a wife. Mr. & Mrs. M probably had quite a few sleepless nights over the future of their firstborn son. They didn’t know what we know from 14:4, that even Samson’s lack of judgment could be used by the Sovereign God, the One who sees eternity rather than just the moment.

Samson bounced around a lot during 20 years of leading his country, having amazing single-handed victories against the Philistines, the people who wanted to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Yet at the same time he was entering one unsavory romantic entanglement after another. God kept giving Samson the upper hand as a strongman against the Philistines, until Samson met Delilah. Samson was seems naïve, not realizing that Delilah was working for the Philistines. He seems just so full of himself when he played mind games with Delilah as she sought out the source of his strength. 

Samson’s heroic victories got short-circuited. From childhood, as a part of the Nazirite vow, Samson’s hair was never to be cut. Delilah kept nagging Samson day and night regarding the secret to his strength till he finally told Delilah: If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me….”. So, surprise, surprise, Samson falls asleep, Delilah calls in the Philistines to shave his hair, and all Samson’s strength departed. The account turns rather gruesome at this point, since when the Philistines captured him, they also gouged out his eyes, bound him in bronze shackles and set him to pushing a millstone in the prison dungeon. One would think that would be the end of Samson, the legendary ex-strongman hero of the Israelites, the guy that every boy aspired to be. However, even though Mr. & Mrs. M never lived to see it, God used the black darkness of prison to finally bring Samson to his knees. This is where the real training from God began.

The Philistines were in 7th heaven, celebrating that their adversary Samson had been conquered by their idol, Dagon. We don’t know the timing of it, but the Philistines had a huge feast to celebrate their victory and they brought out Samson for entertainment. They did not seem to notice or care that Samson’s hair had grown back and that the Samson they were now viewing was spiritually light years ahead of the man with a roving eye who so easily gave away his relationship with God. 

The blind Samson of Judges 16 just had just one prayer which begins remarkedly with “O Sovereign God”…remember me, O God, strengthen me just once more” and in his prayer he doesn’t ask for his sight, he doesn’t ask for his freedom, he asks “Let me die with the Philistines” and he then pushes apart the two supports for the building and he ends up killing more when he died than while he lived. 

Samson is noted as one of the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. I personally do not think that it was because of his great physical strength, awesome though it was. I think it was because this blind, humiliated man, finally realized in prison that God is the Sovereign God, the One Who is not to be taken lightly. Samson finally bowed the knee. 

This gives great hope for us who have Samsons in our lives – those individuals we have prayed for, for years, yet they keep bouncing around presenting themselves as successful individuals yet Christ is absent in their lives. Mr. & Mrs. M prayed for their son and even though they did not live to see it, Samson came home spiritually and became a hero of faith. He finally realized the true Source of Strength. Can you be a hero in faith and continue to pray for your wandering one(s)? This may require Olympian prayers on your knees, but the victory is worth it.


Authored by Jacquelin Stoner

Jacqui is a committed Christ follower has a great love of people, passion for communicating, and she treasures creativity. She is a Christian Life Coach, helping women navigate transitions https://leaningforwardwithjoy.com/ As you can tell, life is never boring with Jacqui. You can reach her at leaningforwardwithjoy@gmail.com