Samson, The Strong Man

We like strong men. We are enamored of power, strength, and violence, or at least the potential for violence. This is shown clearly in our fascination with Samson, one of the judges mentioned in the Old Testament. What we miss is that while the book of Judges grants Samson's story a lot of space, it does not paint him in a positive light.
Samson had everything necessary to have been a great man of God, a redeemer of Israel. What we find in his story, however, is that he abused God's gifts over and over for his personal gratification. It is true that he was responsible for killing many of Israel's enemies due to his great strength. All of his efforts, however, had no bearing on Ancient Israel's security. His feats of strength did not bring peace to the land. They did not grant Israel release from the oppression of the Midianites who attacked Israel to steal its agricultural bounty.
I think we are often enamored of strength because we feel if we only had more strength we could accomplish so much more. We believe that if we only had greater wealth, greater influence, greater resources, greater status our lives would be easier, simpler, and more productive. We would change the world for good.
Perhaps the greatest difficulty in that argument is that there are many with influence, power, and wealth who have not accomplished any significant positive transformation. The second is that all too often we use our lack of resources as an excuse for our inaction. If only we had more or greater resources, then we could act. Instead, we need to be determining what we can accomplish with the resources we already have.
Samson had great strength, but he used it throughout his life only for his personal gratification. If Israel had some benefit from that, he would not be upset about it. Redeeming Israel, however, was not his priority. His priority was himself. That was his only priority.
The people who have acted in history to truly transform the world were people with much more limited strength and resources. Sure, Bill and Melinda Gates have set aside 50 percent of their resources to address world issues. There is also a teenager in Malawi, John, who has used his ingenuity to created waterways for garden irrigation for the good of his community and others in the region. His only resources were sticks and rolls of black plastic. In proportion to his resources, John had already accomplished much more by his 16thbirthday than the whole of our billionaire class.
God is not limited by our lack of resources. God is more limited by our inaction. We don't need strongmen to solve the world's problems. We just need to address the issues in our own communities. We need to befriend the poor, tutor those who can't read, feed the hungry among our neighbors, and encourage those who need support. In so doing, we transform the world for those around us.
The victory may be to the strong, but it is more to those who are of strong character than those with great physical strength, political power, or financial resources. We need to let go of our obsession with strongmen and recognize that even the weak can be agents of world transformation in God’s hands.
©Copyright 2018, Christopher B. Harbin 


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