April 4 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat.” ~Judges 14:6

Most of the heroes listed in Judges receive only a passing reference, but even among those whose stories are told in full, one stands taller than the rest. Samson is a lusty firebrand from the coastal region of Dan who has a weakness for beautiful women and a fondness for pithy one-liners. God raises him up, with all his foibles and flaws, to be a thorn in the side of Israel’s archenemies, the Philistines. Samson’s parents enter into a Nazarite covenant on his behalf before he is born. (The Hebrew word Nazarite means “set apart.”) The Spirit of the Lord is upon Samson, and he has unusual, supernatural strength to exact revenge on the enemies of the Lord.

The writer of the book of Judges does not hide Samson’s weakness for women, his fits of anger, or his disregard of the Nazarite vow. The writer even highlights God’s sovereign use of Samson’s attraction to a beautiful Philistine woman for His own purposes (Judg. 14:4). The fact that God uses this man mightily does not excuse his sin. Nor does it lessen the tragic consequences of Samson’s sinful choices. I cringe at the unhappy ending to his life, considering all that is written of his fame, his wit, his talent, and his God-given strength. Like me, you probably think about what could have been as you witness his tragic fall from grace.

Samson’s experiences offer two powerful lessons. We’ll consider the first today: God uses people in spite of their weaknesses. One of the things that make the Scriptures ring with authenticity is that the lives of main characters are never whitewashed. Adam was responsible for the fall of mankind, Noah was drunk after the flood, and Moses killed a man and had anger issues. Abraham lied to save his own skin, David committed adultery, and Peter denied knowing Jesus. In this book, we meet flawed character after flawed character. Only one man appeared in Scripture as perfect, and that is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, and the One chosen to take away the sins of the world.

If you are flawed, if you have failed, if you have foibles, you are still useful to God.   This fact should never be used as an excuse to continue in sin, for, as we will see in tomorrow’s reading, there are tragic consequences for wallowing in wrong. But if you have finally awakened to the reality that you are not perfect, that you are a sinner who must fight temptation, say no to self, and guard against the evil that lurks in this world, you are not alone. You are in fact part of a long line of God-worshippers who never do quite get it perfect. Cling to the cross and the perfect Christ, and ask God to help you overcome temptation. Let Him use you, though you are a fallen image-bearer like everyone else.

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.