April 5 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Then she called, ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon you!’ He awoke from his sleep and thought, ‘I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had left him.” ~Judges 16:20

Our reading today recounts the exploits of the famed judge, Samson. His name is associated with strength, and his power has been depicted in artwork, film, and literature. There is even a luggage brand that bears his name! Samson was a truly remarkable leader. He was fearless and flamboyant, winsome and witty. His feats of heroism staved off Philistine aggression for twenty years and gave the nation some satisfaction in the face of enemy threats.

Still, as we read the story of Samson’s demise, we are left wondering how much more he could have accomplished had he been faithful to God. Samson tended to take his passions and pursuits to the point of excess and very often beyond. His fearlessness warped into reckless behavior. He took unnecessary risks that often imperiled the lives of those he loved. Samson’s charm won him a lot of attention and many friends, but he did some foolish things in pursuit of beautiful women, his most particular weakness.

For example, Samson was so enamored of Delilah that he confided the secret of his strength to her, even knowing that she had malicious motives. Perhaps he shared his secret in a moment of weakness but assumed she wouldn’t really turn him over to her countrymen. Or perhaps he thought that he would find some way out of the danger, just like he always did. Understand that the source of Samson’s strength was not his hair, per se. A Nazarite’s hair represented his vow to God. When he betrayed the vow, the Lord left him.

The biblical and historical record bears out the fact that God can use flawed men and women (which is the first lesson from Samson’s life, which we covered in yesterday’s devotion); however, He can do so much more with people who overcome their failures with His help. That’s the second lesson. Even if there is some satisfaction to be found in the final moments of the strongman’s days, we all wish things had ended differently for him and for the nation. That’s not a regret any of us want for ourselves. What things in your life keep you from being as “great” as you could be? Sure, God can still use you, but imagine how much stronger and more effective you could be if you faced up to your faults and dealt with the devils that haunt you. A good place to start is to acknowledge a struggle you have. Whether it is a part of your nature or a habit you’ve learned, admit to God that it’s become a problem. If you know Christ, you have the power to change! The Holy Spirit provides strength, the community provides support, and the Word provides wisdom! In fact, we should help each other to become stronger than we are so that we can have the greatest possible impact on our fellow man. Let the story of Samson inspire you. God can use you with your weaknesses, but He can also help you overcome them so that you can accomplish even greater things.

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.