Two kinds of strength

Judges 14:1-3 “Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up and told his father and mother, ‘I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.’ But his father and mother said to him, ‘Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?’  But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.’”

Two things that stand out about the man Samson, one of Israel’s judges: his physical strength and his moral weakness. The contrast is striking. Here was a man who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, killed a lion with his bare hands, killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, tore off the gates of a city to escape his enemies, and broke new ropes that bound him as if they were threads.  At the same time, it is remarkable how this Nazirite, consecrated to God from his birth, was so weak on the inside. He repeatedly fell to the lust of his eyes as he joined Philistine women in marriage, as in the account above, and on at least one occasion that we know about, slept with a Philistine prostitute (Judges 16:1-3).  He did not honor his parents in his marital choices, as we are told in the passage above. He had almost no self-control, living a life of vengeance on anyone who personally wronged him.  He “played with fire” constantly with his actions, until eventually he was badly burned.  Outwardly remarkable as one of Israel’s saviors, but inwardly so deficient – what a contrast with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We are told that Jesus was anything but remarkable, physically speaking, to those who saw Him.  We are told that “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;and as one from whom men hide their facesHe was despised, and we esteemed Him not” (Isaiah 53:2-4).  Yet, this One Who was so unremarkable physically, had an inner strength that far surpassed that of any other man.  Whereas Samson did incredible acts of physical strength when the Spirit of God came upon Him, Jesus, Who was filled with the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), demonstrated that power so often by his submission and restraint.  When He could have destroyed His enemies as they collaborated to take His life, He prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). When He could have called 12 legions of angels to free Him, He submitted to the Fathers’ will instead (Matthew 26:53).  Whereas Samson showed his spiritual weakness by succumbing to temptation time after time, Jesus would say to his enemies, “Which one of you convicts me of sin” (John 8:46)? And of course, they had no answer, for He had no sin.  Samson defeated a lion with his bare hands, only to succumb repeatedly to the temptations of that one “who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  Jesus, on the other hand, never yielded to the temptations of Satan, and in the end, destroyed him and his works forever on the cross. 

Praise God for the power of our Savior that was demonstrated for us in both His life and His death.  And praise Him also for the Spirit He has given those who believe on Him. It is that Spirit that had the power to raise Jesus from the dead, and it is that same Spirit that has given the power of eternal life to those who were formerly dead in their trespasses and sins (Romans 8:11). 

Samson, a man who was outwardly so strong yet inwardly so weak.  The believer, on the other hand, no matter how outwardly weak, has been given access to that same inner strength that dwelt in our Savior, the power to live in victory over our enemy as we daily live on reliance and in submission to the Spirit Christ has given us.

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