Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weaknesses Can Be Powerful

Never underestimate the power of weakness. That’s the message I get through the story of Samson in the book of Judges. Samson lands the job of judge over Israel for a period of 20 years. He is a pretty interesting guy. He has a lot of strength, known for his buff body, but he also has some pretty powerful weaknesses.

Before Samson is even born, God has determined that he will be a man of strength and will bring deliverance to the Israelites. An angel of the Lord appears to a woman and tells her that she will have a son, whose hair should never be shaved. The source of his strength would be found in his hair. I don’t know why God picked his hair to be the source of his strength. I guess He chose something that wouldn’t be so obvious to others. After all, if someone could guess the source of his strength, then they could cut it off (the hair and his strength).

Now Samson is so strong that he does some pretty incredible things. He tears a lion apart with his bare hands. He manages to somehow tie the tails of 300 foxes together. I try to imagine gathering 300 foxes and tying their tails…an amazing feat for sure! He slaughters many (we don’t get details; we are just told he does in Judges 15:8). He breaks free from Judah’s attempt to bind him and turn him over to the Philistines. He kills 1,000 men with a donkey’s jawbone. These are just the stories we know of. I’m sure there are more that the Bible doesn’t include. After all, he did judge over Israel for 20 years.

So he is a mighty man, a mighty warrior and God uses him time and time again to do some pretty amazing things. But the problem is that Samson also had a weakness. His weakness was women. In the face of a lion he could demonstrate incredible might but in the arms of a woman, he became like mush.

We first see this when he gets a wife from the Philistines. Although he wanted to marry outside his people, it was God’s plan from the beginning. So I guess we can’t really fault him there. However, his weakness in women is quickly revealed when she manages to get out of him a riddle he has told the Philistines. She backstabs him and tells the Philistines the answer to his riddle.

Samson would be backstabbed by a woman more than once, yet they continued to be a weakness in his life and as we will see, a pretty powerful weakness. Samson ends up losing his wife, first to his best friend and then eventually she and her father are burned up by the Philistines. This was in retaliation for the whole fiasco of tying the fox’s tails together, setting them on fire and causing them to burn up the Philistine’s grain.

Then in Judges 16:1 he goes in to a harlot. No strings attached. The Philistines try to take advantage of this opportunity and lie in ambush. However, he manages to escape yet again, relying upon his strength as he rises up at midnight and lifts up the doors to the city’s gate, along with its posts and bar and carries them to the top of a hill. With so much strength, one would think he could overpower anything—including the lure of a woman. But no, that is his snag.

We all have a snag, a weakness that we can fall prey to time and time again unless we learn how to overcome it. It could be that Samson didn’t really recognize women as his weakness. Or it could be that he did but he didn’t know how to break the ties. It could also be that he didn’t want to overcome his weakness. We don’t really know but eventually, it would be his weakness that would bring about his demise.

Along comes Delilah. I don’t know what he thought he was getting into but clearly from the beginning her affections for him were not very deep. For some silver she is willing to give away the secret of his strength. But to do that, she needs to find out what it is. Three times she thinks she knows the answer and three times he tricks her.

The power of his weakness for women is most demonstrated in his “relationship” with Delilah. Not only does she nag him to give away his secret but she has men waiting to subdue him. Did he not know those men were there? The Bible doesn’t make that clear but it seems impossible that he didn’t know. In one instance it says that the men were in the “inner room,” so I don’t see how he didn’t know.

Here’s the thing, though. If he didn’t know, he was blinded by his weakness. Our weaknesses can do that. It’s like we are under the power of our weakness and the power over us is so strong that we can’t even see straight. Our perspective on things can get really messed up.

Finally, he gives in and tells her the source of his strength. It says in Judges 16:16 that she “pressed him day after day.” She just kept coming after him. Our weaknesses will do that. They will come after us, day after day. They are always there, whispering in our ear…enticing us. The question is will we give in? Samson gave in. In my Bible it says he was “vexed to death.” That means he was harassed, irritated, annoyed…to death. Literally it would bring his death.

The source of his strength is revealed, his hair is cut off, his eyes are gouged out and now he becomes nothing more than a source of sick entertainment for the Philistines. It says in Judges 16:20: For Samson did not know that the Lord had departed from him. There comes a time when our weaknesses have so overtaken us that the Lord is no longer with us, and we don’t even know it! We mistakenly think we can handle a situation but we have strayed so far from Him that we don’t even realize His presence is no longer there. What a sad ending for Samson but clearly, one that could have been avoided.

In the end, he sacrifices his own life to wipe out approximately 3,000 Philistines at a house where he pushes apart the pillars and the whole thing topples down on top of them. His end was due to his weaknesses. Don’t ever underestimate the power of your weaknesses. The more we give in to them, the more trouble we invite. Samson’s weakness was women. We all have our own unique weaknesses. Recognize what they are so that you can walk in the power of your strength and not those weaknesses!

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