The first two thoughts focused on Samson as a weak leader and the children of Israel as weak followers. For the last post, however, I thought it wise to remind us all that God is at the center of every story — in this case, a most gracious God who acts for his glory and for the good of his people.
Samson suffered a humiliating capture after succumbing to his prostitute’s pleas and then giving over the secret of his strength. The Philistines bound him and took him back to Gaza, where he had previously displayed amazing strength when he ripped the city gate out of its place in the wall, carrying it well over 20 miles in sandy, rolling terrain. But now he stood bound in servitude to the grinding wheel of a prison, his eyes taken by his captors.
The Philistine leaders prepared a feast to honor their god Dagon; they said,
Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.
Dagon was a false god of the Philistines, depicted as having the upper body of a man and the lower of a fish, i.e. a mermaid. So the godless Philsitines took glory and honor, which are in reality only due to YHWH, and attributed them to a mere mermaid-like god.
They called Samson into their feast and unwisely positioned him against the pillars which supported the entire structure of the building. As they mocked Samson and the God he represented, they continued to honor their false god and to attribute the capture of Samson to him.
Samson prays to the Lord:
O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
Even in his prayer of desperation, Samson had not yet learned his lesson; he was still motivated only for his personal revenge. God acted for him, however, and gave him the strength to flatten the building, killing more with his death than ever during his life.
Why would God answer such a prayer? Samson’s motivation was wrong; the people of Israel certainly did not deserve any solace from the oppression of the Philistines. Why would God answer?
1. God keeps his promises; He cannot lie. Remember the promise of the angel to Samson’s parents?
…he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
2. God acts for his glory and for the good of his people.
I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.