Monday, August 27, 2007

O How the Mighty Are Fallen

As Judges 16 closes out the life of Samson, we see him as a captive of the Philistines. After seizing him, they put out his eyes, which was a common practice concerning captives, and put bronze chains on him. He is taken back to Gaza where he had carried away the city gates and was given the humiliating task of grinding grain by hand which was a task usually given to a woman or a slave. I always imagined this being done as Samson would push around a large wooden beam sticking out of a huge circular grinding stone. However, these types of grinding tools were not present until after Old Testament times ended. Samson would have simply sat in a dungeon, blind and shackled, with a large stone sitting in his lap while he used a little hand tool hour after hour to grind the grain.

The Bible makes mention that his hair began to grow. Now remember that the source of his strength was not his hair but rather the Spirit of God in his life. His hair was just a symbol of his commitment to God which had been shattered. But as his hair begins to grow back we once again see a picture of the grace of God even after so many failures.

Samson the captive now becomes Samson the clown. The Philistines credit this victory over Samson to their god, Dagon, who was said to be the father of Baal. A holiday feast is called to give homage to Dagon. Because Dagon is also the god of grain, having Samson grinding grain was equal to making him serve Dagon. Perhaps the biggest mistake the Philistines made was in thinking that Dagon had delivered Samson when it was really Jehovah. Now it is important to keep in mind that this festivity brought thousands of Philistines into the same location including every influential person in their culture. At the height of their drunkenness they bring Samson out and make “sport” of him. There is absolutely no end to the horrid and depraved things they may have done to their number one enemy as Samson stood between the two pillars of this great temple.

Now Samson the clown becomes Samson, the conqueror. It appears that a boy (probably a Hebrew slave) was in charge of Samson. Samson asks the boy to put his hands on each pillar so he could rest by leaning on them. The temple was filled with thousands of Philistine men and women along with all rulers and dignitaries while 3,000 more watched from up on the roof. Samson now repents and looks to his true source of strength, the Lord, for support. If there is one thing that we should remember about Samson it is that in spite of all of his failures, in the end he called on the Lord.

God answers his prayer and shows His grace by giving Samson strength to push the pillars off their stone bases collapsing the temple and killing more Philistines inhis death then he ever killed while alive. For Israel, Samson’s victory in death gave them the upper hand against the Philistines as all of the Philistine leaders were wiped out in one swell swoop. God has used Samson in a great way. Based on this, I have begun to pray this prayer,

“Lord, in whatever time You have left for me on this earth, please use me to accomplish more for your glory in the days ahead of me than you have in the days behind me!”

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