Friday, February 25, 2011

Samson Agonistes

I have been bringing the morning devotions at the Mission where I work/minister. I try to take a passage from each book in the Bible, in canonical order, and bring out some devotional thought as an encouragement or exhortation to our staff. My next session takes me to Judges where I land on chapter 16. This, of course, is the final chapter in the life of Samson, probably the most well known figure in this book. As we read of the last days of his life as a Judge of Israel, I find several warnings. And since Judges is mostly about warning, I will phrase these as cautions.

  • Don’t imagine that usefulness in the past builds up credit that will cover foolishness in the present. Serving Christ is our daily duty. Doing so well does not accrue merit points to offset demerits later. Our attitude in serving Jesus is best expressed in the parable found in Lk. 17:7-10: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (v.10).

  • Don’t assume that the reasons for one’s usefulness by God will always be apparent. It seems that there was nothing about Samson that would give a clue as to the reason for his astonishing strength (Judges 16: 5-6). In fact, God delights in using the foolish and diminished things of this world so that He might receive the maximum glory (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

  • Don’t expect to be fireproof when you play with fire. Samson may have enjoyed the “pleasures of sin for a season,” but it was only for a season. Sin is deceptive. Even believing people can be deceived by sin. It is true that our sins have been paid for by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ as “he (God) made him to be sin, who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21). It is also true that for those in Christ, there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1). But though there is no condemnation, the life of Samson shows us that there will yet be consequences for sin. Those who play with fire are sure to get burned.

Although there is a morbid word of commendation upon his demise (Jud.16:30), he did not end well. May we take heed that we might end well.

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