Can we EXPERIENCE God’s GIFTS & POWER without His BLESSING?
March 16 Bible Reading: Judges Chapters 13-15
"When he (Samson) came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it." (Judges 15:14-15)
Starting from the 13th chapter of the book of Judges, we encounter a contrasting picture of a man who starts out his earthly journey based on certain stipulations given by God Himself even before he was conceived in his mother’s womb. He grows up under the watchful eyes of his parents, and enjoys the blessing of God during his growing days (13:24). In fact, the Spirit of God moves upon him in a very special manner during those days as well (13:25).
Samson judged Israel for 20 years, but during this period there was no evidence that he enabled Israel to have rest like during the earlier days of Gideon (8:28). His weakness for women was evident and he violated a number of the Ten Commandments as well as his Nazirite vow. His checkered history of heroism and moral failure resembled Israel’s troubles during the time of the judges. Although we can find instances of obedience and humility in his life (15:18; 16:28, 30), but for most part, his life was a string of careless adventures with no true concern for following God’s commands.
Few men in the Bible display such a contrast of strength and weakness. His strength was evident when he killed a lion with his bare hands (14:6), when he killed thirty Philistines single–handed (14:19), when he broke the cords bound by the men of Judah, and when he killed 1000 Philistines with a fresh jawbone of a donkey (15:14–16). His weaknesses were sadly even more apparent as he had a weakness for women, and was willing to disobey God in order to get the woman who pleased him (14:1–7). He also disobeyed his parents (14:3), was deceitful (14:9; 16:7, 11, 13b), succumbed to temper and vindictiveness (14:19b; 15:4, 5) and was cruel at times (15:4, 5). So, during most of his adult life Samson fell far short of God’s standard with his sin and disobedience!
It is interesting to note that the strength of Samson was displayed whenever he was moved by the Spirit of the Lord (13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14). Thereafter, Samson broke each of the three stipulations of the Nazirite vow and he lost his mighty power (14:8–10; 16:19). Even the great victory he won was by making himself unclean with the use of a dead donkey’s jawbone (15:14-15). This is a clear example of God allowing irregularities during a time of extreme crisis, which ordinarily would not be permitted!
The book of Hebrews lists Samson as a hero of the faith (Heb. 11:32), an honor that seems to be out of place on account of his multiple transgressions against God. Samson exemplifies that it is possible to experience the gifts and power of God without His blessing! God gives some people extraordinary abilities to accomplish His purposes, but that in no way guarantees that they will seek to know Him or follow His ways. Samson is a sobering reminder that great abilities may not operate through God’s blessing. His life illustrates the truth that God’s work depends, not on human means, but on divine enablement. God actually used a flawed instrument like Samson to bring glory to Himself!
The false prophet Balaam is another example of someone who was empowered by God to bless Israel, yet his own life remained spiritually bankrupt (Num. 31:15–16). As Apostle Paul points out, we can “speak with the tongues of men and of angels” (1 Cor. 13:1); “understand all mysteries and all knowledge…have all faith, so that we could remove mountains” (v. 2), yet still have no love inside. The final analysis from God in this case is that “we are nothing!” (v. 2b). Let us be cognizant of the fact that we can experience God’s gifts and power without His blessing. Let the following words of Jesus Christ propel us to have an intimate relationship with Him as we obey His commandment always!