A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. [Ephesians 6:10 (NLT)]
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. [Philippians 4:13 (NLT)]
Sunday school taught us that Samson’s hair was the source of his strength. While his hair was related to his Nazirite vow, I don’t think it had anything to do with his strength. Maybe Samson wasn’t as dumb as we thought and his wife’s betrayal years earlier taught him a thing or two about deceit. When Samson told Delilah the source of his strength, could he have thought all of his answers to be lies? Wanting to continue enjoying her favors in bed, might he have kept making up answers to quiet her nagging? I’m not a Bible scholar but I suspect the boastful warrior thought he alone was the sole source of his strength. What the proud man didn’t understand was that his strength wasn’t found in bulging muscles and six-pack abs or even untrimmed hair—it was found in God. Samson didn’t lose his strength when he lost his hair. He lost his strength when he lost sight of God—when he decided his lustful desires were more important than his Nazirite vows. His strength left him not because his head was shaved but because he chose the pagan and treacherous Delilah over the God to whom he’s been dedicated.
Samson’s long hair was merely a symbol of his being set apart—long hair didn’t give him strength any more that wearing a cross or a clerical collar endows people with virtue or makes them Christian. Earlier in life, it wasn’t Samson’s hair that enabled him to break out of restraints and kill 1,000 Philistines with a bone—it was the Spirit of the Lord that had come upon him. Rather than thanking God, however, Samson proudly boasted of his personal triumph: “With the jawbone of a donkey, I’ve killed a thousand men!” He claimed the victory for himself and then complained to God about his thirst. When water gushed from a rock, rather than offering thanks to God, Samson called it “The Spring of the One Who Cried Out.” A better name would have been the “The Spring of the God Who Answers!”
Although Samson called to God to deliver him from thirst, he might have been wiser if he’d called to God to deliver him from temptation and desire. Sadly, there is no mention of Samson calling to God again until we find him blind, weak and humiliated as the once powerful man is paraded in front of the Philistine crowd in their temple. Samson was blind long before the Philistine’s gouged out his eyes; he’d been blind to the power of God throughout his life. He thought God was there to serve him rather than knowing he was there to serve God. Ironically, it was only when he was blind that he finally saw the real source of his strength and prayed, “O God, please strengthen me just one more time.” God heard his prayer and Samson killed more Philistines when he died than he ever did when he lived.
Without God, no matter how good our eyesight, we are blind and, without Him, no matter how many hours we’ve spent at the gym, we will be weak. It is when we look to God that we see, when we admit our weakness that we become strong, and when we are humble that we can be great.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.
[“Amazing Grace” by John Newton]