Let me tell you about a man who did almost everything in his life in a wrong way. He was given privilege and power and used them selfishly. He was taught the word of God and repeatedly broke it. He was given to fits of rage and uncontrollable violence. He was arrogant. He took what he wanted whenever he wanted it. He was consumed with lust, and foolishly trusted those who meant him harm. He was, in spite of all that, used by God to save Israel from their enemies! We can learn a lot from Samson – a man used by God despite his character.
You can read his story for yourself in Judges chapters 13 – 16. The angel of the Lord appeared to his parents and promised them a child even though his mother was barren. He would be used by God to rescue Israel from the Philistines. He was a special child who was to be reared in a special manner. He was to be a Nazirite for his entire life, avoiding alcohol and refraining from cutting his hair as an outward symbol of his unique calling. He was given the privilege of having God-fearing parents.
Yet he broke all the rules! He decided to marry one of the Philistines, demanding that his father get her for him. He touched the carcass of a lion he had killed about a year later because he wanted to eat honey from a beehive that was in it – a direct disobedience to the Nazirite vows. He tried to take advantage of the thirty young men who were assigned to him, using a riddle to get thirty new outfits of clothing. When his wife tricked him and told them the answer he killed thirty other men to take their clothes and pay his debt. Her father gave her to another man so he burned the Philistines’ fields foolishly inciting them to war. God enabled him to kill 1000 of the Philistines, but he still didn’t learn his lesson. He went to a prostitute in Gaza and was almost ambushed, but overcame by his tremendous power. He then met Delilah and the most famous part of his story was acted out with him finally telling her the source of his strength – his Nazarite vows symbolized by his hair. His hair was cut, his eyes gouged out, and he was made a captive. God renewed his strength and used him in the end to bring down a temple with 3000 Philistine leaders (thus saving Israel).
The lesson we learn from Samson is not that actions don’t matter. He suffered greatly for his sins again and again. His was far from ever being a happy life. No, the lesson is that in spite of failure God can use whomever He desires to accomplish His will. Even though we are not all that we should be (or someday will be), we can still be used by a sovereign God who can use even the most unfaithful of His children to accomplish His will. What an encouraging truth! Don’t follow in Samson’s sorry footsteps, but do know that God is on the throne and will be glorified, even if/when we fail Him.