Samson and Grace
One of the interesting dilemmas in the Bible is what is grace? Grace is usually defined as unmerited favor, that God, recognizing that we have nothing to offer Him, can only receive His love as a gift of grace – favor with Him because of love, not because of what we can do for Him for we have nothing to offer Him that He does not already own.
However, there is another aspect of grace that is not often talked about. In II Corinthians 12:9-10 we have the following quotation:
“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength (grace) is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power (grace) of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak (grace/powerless) then I am strong.”
As we can see in the above text the issue of grace/power is dependent upon whether we can recognize our need of the power of God. When we are weak, and we know it, then we can seek strength from God.
Another text along the same line is that of II Timothy 2:1. In this text Jesus says:
“Thou therefore, My son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
In this text we are again notified that strength comes from the grace of Jesus.
In the story of Samson we see what happens to the grace of Jesus in His relationship with Samson. No amount of warning from his parents was enough to get Samson’s attention (Judges 14:3) about getting into dangerous relationships. No number of soldiers was sufficient to help Samson to be discreet. No amount of close calls was sufficient to stop Samson from indulging his appetites Judges 16. Finally it appears that Jesus had to allow Samson to fall from grace (I Timothy 1:19; I Timothy 5:19). It appears that Samson had grown so self confident in his perceptions of “his” power that he had forgotten where power/grace comes from. Only Jesus Himself could have empowered a man to do the things that Samson had done. But when we count a gift to be of small value, or we think that the gift is ours without reserve, and we forget Who it came from and why it came from Him, then we are in danger of falling due to our pride (I Corinthians 10:12). As a result of Samson’s “cavalier” attitude he did not know that Jesus had departed from him (Judges 16:20). Now it is interesting to think of these things for Jesus says that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). So since Jesus will not leave us or forsake us then that would indicate that no change had taken place in the mind of Christ, but that a great deal of change had taken place in the mind of Samson. Samson had forgotten that all of his power came as a gift of grace from Jesus. To continue to receive the gift one would have to stay in relationship with Jesus. To take ones eyes off of Jesus we begin to sink (Matthew 14:28-31) or fall from grace.
We know from the story of Samson to fall from grace does not mean that one has to stay that way. Jesus assures us that He is always interested in us, even though we are not always interested in Him (Jeremiah 31:3). Not only that, but Jesus says that if we get lost He will seek us out (Luke 15:4-7). So in the case with Samson, he fell but Jesus did not give up on him. Jesus continued to communicate with Samson and even though fallen, and wounded, Samson began to grasp the idea that the power of God is greater than the power of men. Samson repented and asked for help from Jesus. He came to his senses (Luke 15:16-24) and Jesus blessed him again with His unchanging love. He blessed Samson with the faith to ask Him for another gift, even though he did not deserve the gift, yet by faith he asked for the gift of strength and Jesus granted him supernatural strength to pull down Satan’s temple. The great testimony of Samson was not that he was strong, or that he had turned away from God when he felt strong. The greatest testimony of Samson was that when he was weak, and full of guilt, and Satan was relating to him all of his sins, something we are all familiar with, but that even when he was weak he understood God. Samson knew who it was who had left the covenant relationship and he knew that it was not God. Samson also knew that Jesus was loving and full of grace – full of love, full of power, and full of forgiveness. The greatest miracle in the book of Samson was that he called out to God again and God was right by his side, ready to respond in a moment. Samson called out in his great need, and Jesus responded to Samson’s great need. Grace was fully there, and fully ready to respond to the great need of Samson, and to the great need of those of us who love the gospel story of Samson.