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Monday, September 17, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 167

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Samson

Ask ten different people what they know of Samson and chances are you will get ten different answers. Perhaps some will say he was a judge, but more likely you will be regaled with stories of his strength, and reminded that he killed a thousand men with a jawbone.

Although all these things are true of Samson – he was a judge, and he did kill a thousand Philistines with a jawbone – he was also a child of promise, foretold of by an angel, whose mother was given very specific instructions as to how he ought to be brought up, and what he would become.

Even with his many flaws, and woefully self-destructive decisions, Samson was still a man who had faith in God, to the extent that even the author of Hebrews mentions him among such notables as Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Isaac, David and Samuel.

It is no small feat to be mentioned in the same breath as such heroes of the faith, yet here Samson is, mentioned among them nonetheless.

Samson was a judge among the people of God. A man chosen of God from before his birth to be a Nazirite to God, meaning one who is consecrated, separated, or holy unto God.

The Nazirites were those who voluntarily took a vow of abstinence from wine, refrained from cutting their hair, and did not become impure by coming in contact with corpses or graves.

The angel of the Lord spoke to Samson’s mother, informing her that he would be one such Nazirite, a man consecrated unto God.

Judges 13:4, “For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

Although the life of Samson teaches us many things, one of the most practical things it teaches us is that potential can be, and often is readily wasted. Just because someone has potential and is even foretold of by an angel of the Lord, it does not mean that they will live up to it or even do their duty before God, as Samson so clearly shows us.

It is always more tragic to see a life brimming with potential being thoroughly wasted, than to see an average or less than average individual not striving to excel.

The angel of the Lord specifically told Samson’s parents that he was to do a great work for God by delivering Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. He confirmed this time and again, and in order to help Samson accomplish this task, God would even give him supernatural physical strength.

Anyone who is even tangentially familiar with the story of Samson knows that rather than fulfill God’s plan, Samson grew up to waste his strength by fulfilling his own lusts, desires, and penchants.

At the end of his twenty years of judgeship, Delilah, a harlot, finally convinces Samson to part with his long held secret, and reveal the source of his strength, his long hair. Although a discussion concerning the secret of Samson’s strength not being his hair, but rather his unique relationship with God as symbolized in his pledge not to cut his hair would be a fascinating one indeed, we will table that particular discussion for now and focus on the prayer of Samson instead.

The prayer of Samson we will be discussing comes near the end of his life. His prayer comes as he is surrounded by his enemies, defeated, blinded, and made to be a grinder in the prison.

Here was a man who was judge over the people of God, who had the power of God coursing through him to such an extent that thousands of years later he is still known as the strongest man to ever live, yet he threw it all away for the passing pleasures of this present life.

The life of Samson is a tragic one. It is a life worthy of contemplation because his personal failures led him to the point of causing God to take away his power, having his eyes put out, and being made to perform for the Philistines.

Even during the last moments of his life however, Samson still found the wherewithal to cry out to God, praying a prayer very different from the prayers of Jesus or Stephen of the New Testament.

The prayer of Samson was not conciliatory in nature, he did not ask God to forgive the Philistines for what they had done, but rather for the strength to take vengeance on the Philistines who had taken his eyes.

What is more interesting than the prayer itself, is the fact that God answered it, and though we will be discussing the prayer of Samson and the context thereof, we will also be discussing why God would answer a prayer of vengeance and revenge.

One thing is certain: God does as He wills, and in our attempt to understand certain actions God takes, this must perpetually be at the forefront of our minds. Although God Himself said vengeance is His, here we have a man who having lost his way, comes before God once more and asks for the strength to take vengeance upon the Philistines, and God answers his prayer granting him the strength to do just that.

We can never fail to understand that there are exceptions to certain rules within the word of God, but these exceptions are not made by men, but by God Himself. Why God makes certain exceptions at certain times, is something known only to Him, but we can try to glean and understand the nature of a situation and what led to a certain action God took based on Scripture and the entire context of the situation as it stands.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps God answered the prayer for vengeance because it had been His will all along to act against the Philistines .... after all, that had been the intended purpose of Samson's life. I am sure the Philistines abused many of their prisoners, not just Samson, and perhaps Samson's anger toward them finally put his desires in alignment with God's. God was apparently very angry with them too.