Samson. He had all the promise in the world. Chosen. Spirit-empowered. Strong. Gifted. Care free. He also had plenty of hang-ups. Reckless. Arrogant. Unfaithful.
There were high hopes for a living when Samson was born, and while a bit messy along the way, God used Samson to fulfill his purposes. Join us this fall to find out how.
Week 1: All The Promise in the World – A Judge is Born
It’s a weird story. Samson’s mom isn’t named, and his did is. The dad lacks faith and the mom has plenty to go around. There’s a call to be a Nazirite with all of its food restrictions and cleanliness laws. Samson comes around at a time of big trouble, and there’s big promise on the horizon for Israel.
Isn’t that how it goes with us? All the promise in the world? God has big things for us to do, Spirit-filled people for us to become, and along the way…well…sometimes it’s a bit messy. Samson’s spiritual apathy leaves us with a powerful lesson: these days ahead are for celebrating God’s grace, remaining faithful in worship, and living into the promises God has for us.
Week 2: Right in My Eyes
Sometimes we’d rather just do what’s right in our eyes. Samson saw a Philistine woman, and that was that – he was ready to take her as his wife. It didn’t matter that the Philistines would lead him astray. It didn’t matter that the Philistines had destroyed his people. Samson wanted to do what was best for Samson.
Sometimes we’d just rather have it our way. The amazing thing is…God is still at work. The Spirit of the Lord rushes upon Samson and a lion is reduced to rubble. One of the great miracles of Scripture is that God consistently uses the least and the lost, even sometimes the backslidden to achieve a bigger purpose. Imagine what it would be like if we would do what was right in God’s eyes…how much more might God do in our lives and for the life of the world?
Week 3: Honey Sounds Good
Well it starts to catch up with Samson now. Driven by his five senses more than a spiritual sensitivity to God’s leading, he breaks again, many of the ground rules God laid out for his mother in the beginning. He still wants the Philistine woman as a wife. He touches a dead corpse. He even brings his parents into the situation and doesn’t tell them where the honey came from…
Ahhhh Samson. What started as the desire for a wedding turned into a real mess. His wife to be is manipulated, Samson gives into his own selfishness, and before it’s over, all the work of pleasing himself turns into the defeat of 30 Philistines, and the loss of his wife to his best man. Weird. Maybe God uses our failures for a greater purpose. At least that’s the silver lining we hope for…or in Samson’s case, that’s the Honey in the Lion.
Week 4: The Fox and the Hounds
Samson’s train wreck is getting closer now. His desire for a new relationship with yet another forbidden Philistine woman is now for personal revenge. The goal? Do the Philistines harm. It starts with setting their fields on fire and gets worse when they burn his ex-wife and her father with fire.
Samson’s behavior bears consequences on others – guilty and innocent alike. That’s the difficulty of free will – it doesn’t always go so well for everyone. The good news is that in the end, God is still at work, despite the chaos and lack of faithfulness.
1,000 Philistines are defeated, and God’s purposes are starting to be fulfilled.
Week 5: Old Habits Die Hard
It started with disobedience, and now unfortunately Samson’s old habits haven’t died. Old habits usually die hard. Now Samson isn’t just after Philistines, he’s after prostitutes. The Nazirite, who was supposed to maintain high levels of purity and cleanliness has now headed to a new level of brokenness.
Samson gives away the secret of his life: God’s strength. How do we stay faithful and not waver in light of temptation?
Week 6: A Promise Fulfilled: Triumph from Tragedy
Out of triumph comes tragedy. In his death comes the beginning of Israel’s deliverance. In 20 years of an up-and-down life, Samson had all the promise in the world. Did he fulfill all God had in store? Hmmm… on this side of heaven, we’ll never know.
But did God fulfill his promise. You’d better believe it. And that’s what God does. God creates triumphs from tragedy. Don’t believe me? Just look at the cross and the empty tomb.