Lead singer of rock band U2, Bono, once wrote “That the scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, adulterers and mercenaries used to shock me. Now it is a source of great comfort.” He was writing a forward for a pocket book of the Psalms and referring to King David & Psalm 40’s longing that grace would come, because he, King David and everyone else sorely need it. He could have written those words of Samson too.
What a terrible leader and sinner Samson was! While most believers aim to see how close and intimate withGod we can be, Samson seems to want to see how far from God he can get and still get away with it. In today’s reading we find for him it was just over 20 years.
Samson was sexually immoral, not a one wife, one life kind of guy. He’s married once already, got angry with her and given her to a mate. Today we find him sleeping (although as v1 of the text makes clear, he wasn’t sleeping) with a prostitute. Then he pursues Delilah who is not a believer. The Bible has really clear sexual ethics – no sex outside marriage (defined as between man and woman). God’s not a spoilsport, it is for our good and emotional, physical and sexual health. If you want to know more, Sam Allberry has just published Why does God care who I sleep with? (also on Apple Books). From the passage we can see some of what sin does to us.
Sin desensitises v20
As Delilah cries out for the third time the Philistines are on you, Samson says “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” Sadly he can’t this time. Samson doesn’t realise he has grieved the Spirit so much, He has gone.
If you sin once and get away with it, it’s easier to do it again and again. Sin desensitises the conscience.
Sin binds v21
Samson finds himself bound with bronze shackles. Sin leads us into bondage. It make us captive. It makes us a slave to sin (John 8:34). Pietro Bandinelli has become familiar to Alpha Course delegates. As the story goes, when Da Vinci was painting the Last Supper he got Pietro, a saintly looking chorister, to model for Jesus. Two years later, Da Vinci needed to find someone whose face was hardened and distorted by evil, a sort of living human devil – he found a beggar who modelled for him. Da Vinci then found it was the same man Pietro Bandinelli. In the intervening period, he had fallen into sin’s desensitising and bondage.
Sin grinds v21
Samson ends up pushing a mill wheel round and round and round, grinding wheat. Sin grinds – once caught in its’ snares, it no longer thrills, you find you can’t stop and you are in a rut you can’t escape.
Sin blinds v20f
Samson’s eyes are gouged out and he’s forced on that treadmill in the hot sun he can no longer see. He can’t see the state sin has got him in. Sin has blinded him.
What Samson finds is that God’s wrath against sin is to give us over to what we desire – to let us have what we want, and all its consequences. There’s no human way out. If you have found yourself caught in the trap of secret sin, and are too ashamed to admit it, then you have found sin desensitizes, sin binds, grinds and blinds. The Holy Spirit is waking you up today, bringing revelation to cry out to God, who longs to take away your shame and guilt away and set your free.
Samson cried out to God
Just like the prodigal son stuck in shame living in a pig sty, Samson wakes up to the state he is now in and cries out to God.
Remember me! Strengten me! Use me! In his last and probably only act of faith and trust in the Lord, Samson cries out to God for strength to push the pillars apart and cause the building he is in to tumble on to the enemies of Israel. For that Samson makes it into Hebrews 11 – most of his life, he was unfaithful. His last act shows strength made perfect in weakness.
If you are in a mess like Samson, don’t waste your life – Call on Jesus now to set you free, to remember you and strengthen you to be holy and fruitful. James 5:16 exhorts us to confess our sins to one another – the act of confessing to a trusted friend brings the shame into the light and freedom. It stops the accuser’s whispers dead.