GOD is ‘OUR STRENGTH’ in the midst of ‘OUR TROUBLE’
March 17 Bible Reading: Judges Chapters 16-18
Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, "O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!" And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. Then Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" And he pushed with all his might and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life. (Judges 16:28-30)
When we read through the story of Samson, we see that God had bestowed Samson with extraordinary strength and courage to destroy the Philistines who had occupied the land of Israel. During his various times of confrontation with the enemy, we read that “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him” (14:6, 19; 15:14) that resulted in his extraordinary feats of courage. However, his love for women was the weak link in his life, and two out the three women he loved betrayed his trust. Psalms 118:8 explains an important lesson that we can learn from Samson’s life: "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man (or, woman)"!
Samson’s life story is a re-enactment of how the women in his life could entice him to spill out his secrets. His Philistine wife after being threatened with a fiery death (14:15) wept before Samson for seven days until he explained the riddle to her and lost his bet with the Philistines (14:17-18). Samson should have learned from that lesson, and should not have trusted anyone thereafter. However, this scene is re-enacted with Delilah and "when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death that he told her all his heart" (16:16-17). Samson revealed the secret of his strength to the woman he loved and trusted, but she betrayed him for large sums of money (16:5; 18b). She lulled him to sleep, and got a barber to shave of the seven locks of his head. Samson lost not only his extraordinary strength, but also lost the anointing of the Spirit of God upon his life (16:20b). What a tragedy!
To add to his losses, Samson then lost his eyesight and his freedom as well, as the Philistines gouged out his eyes and threw him into their prison and shackled him with bronze fetters as he spent his remaining days grinding in prison (16:21). However, God had not left him and his hair started growing back during his time in the prison (16:22). To add insult to injury, the blind Samson became the object of public ridicule as he was called upon to perform for the Philistines in their temple of their god Dagon (16:23-25). How much lower can a person go down in humiliation?
It is here that Samson puts his faith back in Jehovah God, as he prays a short prayer for strength during his time of trouble. Samson’s extraordinary faith in God at this crucial hour made such a difference that the writer of Hebrews includes his name in the ‘honor roll of faith’ along with other great men of faith like Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets (Hebrews 11:32). Samson killed about 3000 Philistines by bring down the roof of the temple with his bare hands and the extraordinary strength that he regained through his short prayer (16:27-30). Samson had now killed more Philistines at his death than during his entire lifetime and the twenty years that he had judged over Israel! (16:30b)
Samson’s story further teaches us that it is never too late for God to work in our life! If God can strengthen and use runaway prophets like Elijah or Jonah for His work, He can strengthen us as well when we call upon His name. If we are in trouble in any area of our lives today, take courage and call upon God for strength like Samson. As Samson’s story indicates to us, our God is just a prayer away from us and He will hasten to strengthen us in the midst of our trouble when we call upon Him in faith!