“Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor” – Proverbs 29:23
You knew that guy in high school—the guy with all the money, the looks, the clothes and the fastest car. He was the popular one, the guy everyone liked to hang out with, the one who was a lock for being voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” But instead of taking advantage of all these advantages, he decided to spend his time chasing girls and partying, to the dismay of his parents and the ruin of his GPA.
Trust Fund Babies. College playboys. Frat-house social committee chairmen. To direct these terms at other guys is to accuse them of riding Daddy’s coattails and to call into question their work ethic and the seriousness with which they take life. Those who have less in the world can only scratch their heads and wonder what they could do with the same perks.
Now, this is a stereotype, to be sure. A few bad apples don’t spoil the whole barrel in this case. But as we can’t think back on that one guy and not wonder what happened, so also we can’t read the story of Samson and not wonder what went haywire.
Mighty Samson, who has never lost a battle, is captured by a woman, tortured by his enemies and enslaved until his death. The mighty warrior who has killed scores of his enemies with rudimentary tools and with his bare hands trips up on the most obvious of ploys. The one who was to be dedicated to God’s service for the purpose of saving his people ends up in bondage to the very people he was intended to conquer.
What was he thinking? How could he have subjected himself to this kind of trickery? Didn’t Delilah ask him repeatedly about the secret of his strength, and couldn’t he see where this was leading? Did he forget that the Philistines had come into her house and tried to capture him on a number of occasions? Or did he just enjoy playing this game, knowing he couldn’t lose?
The sad fact is that Samson was just as human as you and I. He allowed his eyes to lead him astray, and he allowed his pride to strategize for him. In some sense he was a victim of his own success—and he learned the hard way that even a slugger with a perfect batting average can strike out when it matters most.
So what can we learn from Samson’s story today? Were you the one in high school who squandered your advantages and made foolish choices? Can you think back on times when you deliberately disobeyed what you knew to be God’s will for your life—and paid the price? If so, gain encouragement from the end of Samson’s story. God gave him a second chance to show that he was God’s man, and Samson struck a crippling blow to his enemies. God also gives us more chances than we can count to return to him and rededicate ourselves to his mission in the world.
Be Strong. Act Like Men.