Wednesday, May 10, 2017


If we could see ourselves as we really are – and it’s not very pretty (Gal. 5:17; Romans 70 – it is natural that we would struggle with doubts about our usefulness and worthiness. In fact, none of us are worthy of anything from God, except His condemnation (Romans 6:23).

Samson certainly wasn’t worthy. He consorted with prostitutes (Delilah, for one), married a non-Israelite against the advice of his parents, and foolishly gambled, incurring the sin of the Philistines. This then led to a destructive cycle of violence. He also acted foolishly in numerous ways, enabling the Philistine prostitute, Delilah, to fatally deceive him (Judges 16). Nevertheless, the Lord had chosen Him to free Israel from Philistine domination (Judges 13; 14:4) and to judge His people Israel:

·       And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years. (Judges 15:20; ESV)

Ironically, the Lord even used Samson’s folly to accomplish His purposes. Even at the end of his life, having been blinded by the Philistines, Samson prayed to the Lord that He would restore Samson’s strength that he could bring vengeance upon the Philistines for what they had done to him, without any mention of the Lord’s honor and the accomplishment of His purposes. However, the Lord honored his prayer and restored Samson’s strength:

·       And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. (Judges 16:30)

Samson had been a highly flawed individual, and yet the Lord heard Him and honored his prayer to accomplish His vengeance upon the Philistines.

I too am a highly flawed individual. This is why this account speaks so powerfully to me. I am angry, reactive – sometimes I even begin screaming, to my great shame – and self-centered. Not only this, I perceive how my sins infiltrate into even my most “spiritual” deeds. I have even confided to my class about the fleshliness of my most spiritual deed. I saw an elderly woman fall in the middle of a busy intersection. I immediately ran out to her rescue. However, as soon as I came to her aid, I looked around to see how many were observing how spiritual I was.

At times, it seems that everything about me is contaminated with sin. It is perceptions like these that make me feel disqualified to truly serve the Lord. However, I am in good company. The esteemed Reformed preacher, Charles Spurgeon, even repented of his prayers. He had observed that even they had been contaminated by his flesh.

I often wonder whether God can bless what I write, seeing that these were the products of great passion, sometimes even anger, and perhaps not even righteous anger. Yet Scripture assures me that if God could use Samson and Paul, He could even use me. Paul had described himself as the greatest sinner:

·       The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Had God been pleased with Samson, or did God use him as He had Pharaoh and Pilate, as He often had, accomplishing His purposes through the intentions of sinners? Likewise, was God using me in His delight or consternation? There is only one brief New Testament citation of Samson, but it is a revealing one:

·       And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of WEAKNESS, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. (Hebrews 11:32-34)

Samson had been a weak and flawed individual, but his God had made him physically strong. We too are weak and flawed, but our Lord has promised to delight in and exalt the weak and humble.

I am distressed by my sins and many failings. However, my Savior has assured me that He has made me strong through my weaknesses, the very source of my distress. He has transformed the source of my shame into the clay of His glory. I therefore adore Him for what He has done for me and serve Him confidently. This confidence is not a confidence based in myself but in the One who is able to use such a broken vessel.

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