A couple phrases from Samson’s story have been sticking in my mind lately. It’s not that they’re tormenting me or causing me any great deal of mental anguish, but I just keep chewing on these phrases.
His father and mother didn’t realize the Lord was at work in this…
But he didn’t realize the Lord had left him.
I’ll leave the second for another post, but here’s what I’ve been thinking about the first:
The first phrase was used in explanation of God working toward the deliverance of His people from the oppression of the Philistines through some rough circumstances. Samson was making a huge, boneheaded push to marry a Philistine lady, which his parents knew was a mistake. Not just a mistake, but an affront to the God who’d delivered their people from Egyptian slavery. He had told them to drive OUT the locals and their pagan gods, not marry them!
But God used the stupidity of Samson to drive a wedge between him and the very Philistines he was tolerating. Samson’s marriage consisted of a 7 day party kicked off by a pride filled bet with the locals, a week of nagging from his new wife, and a rage inducing betrayal by her. Samson referred to his wife as his heifer (Any chance that was a term of endearment back then?), stormed off to a nearby town to kill 30 guys there to pay off what he lost in the bet, then went home to live on mom and dad’s basement couch and eat cheese puffs! To make things worse, when the cheese puffs ran out and he remembered “Hey I’ve got a wife!”, he found out she’d been given to marry his best man! Samson is not having a good “day”, here. (At least his “sorta/kinda father in law” offered him a consolation sister. Umm… what!?)
I get to this point in the story and I ask myself, “This is what God was working through? Seriously? He made something good out of this mess?” Then I remember… God doesn’t require a whole lot in the way of raw materials to make something good. (Please see “Creation” as Exhibit A.)
Samson lost his temper again. He caught a bunch of foxes and tied their tails together with torches. Then he set them loose to ruin the Philistine’s wheat harvest. Now the Philistines are having a pretty crappy “day”, too. (If they can’t make bread, where are they supposed to put their Nutella?) And this is where we begin to see what God is doing. The Philistines wanted revenge, so when they found out it was Samson, they burned his wife and her father to death. Samson then set his eyes on retaliation and started killing Philistines, who subsequently set up camp in Judah and went to war against Samson’s relatives for a while. The men of Judah convinced Samson to effectively turn himself in, but as the Philistines took him captive, God stepped in to enable Samson to make light work of a thousand of them.
God was working to deliver His people. It’s interesting that Samson’s parents didn’t realize what He was up to.
I wonder what situations God is working through uniquely in our lives today… Do we realize how “the Lord is at work in this”? Do we notice what He’s doing? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not go through life oblivious to what God’s working out. Let’s keep our eyes and hearts open and see what happens…
*If you’re interested in the cheese puff & Nutella free, actual version of this episode, you can find it in Judges 14-16. The consolation sister is real, though – she’s still in the story.)