Growth, Grace and a Greater Glory. RBT Notes – Judges 16.23-31, 21st April

‘His hair began to grow again’ (v.22). There’s grace in those follicles. Samson might have broken the vow made at his birth to keep his hair uncut, but God was faithful, and with his hair his strength iss returning.

Not that the Philistines realise this. They’re elated that they have their man, blinded, degraded, and now made into a circus performer. This chained strongman is at the centre of their celebrations as they praise Dagon in his temple. Three thousand men and women were there, even on the temple roof. Let the games begin (v.25).

Samson is led to his stage, and with help gropes for the pillars. He prays, God hears, there is a crack, a shudder, and the tonnes of stone, and worshippers, come crashing down. He dies, and so do they all. In death, he kills (vv.26-30).

Here endeth the lesson. Samson was strong, in his loves and his hates. He was vain, impetuous, and absurdly brave. He was a driven man, we might say, but it seems that he was driven for his own glory. The glory that he gained was perhaps fitting for a man of such extremes, a glory won at the cost of his own life, and at the cost of his enemies’ lives, too. This might have been a successful strategy for Samson to adopt in crushing his enemies; but it’s not the great victory we remember, but the sad outcome of humiliated man, who sought so little of the grace of God. Whilst God restored that strength Samson so delighted in, how much more would God’s grace have done with a man who sought wisdom and humility as he used his strength.

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As ever, when we look closely at one of the Judges in this Book, we cannot fail to think about, and even to see, Jesus Christ. Samson slays idolaters, but Jesus saves idolaters. Samson kills with a prayer for vindication and revenge, but Jesus dies to bring life, with a prayer for forgiveness and mercy. Samson was buried, first in the carnage, then in a king’s tomb, but Jesus left his tomb, to be the Living Head of all who call on Him by faith. Samson sought his glory, but Jesus sought the glory of Another (cf John 7.18). Samson’s triumph was death, but Jesus’ triumph is life, for us. We could well say, ‘thus He saved many more when He died than while He lived’ (v.30). Heaven’s worship is the song of a ‘great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb’ (Revelation 7.9). And, because of His glorious grace, we worship with them.

Lewis Allen

Pastor, Hope Church Huddersfield, Director of Gospel Yorkshire, husband, father of five, football follower and dreaming fly-fisherman, Daily Reading the Bible Together blogger.

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