Our Call or The World

Judges 16:4-30  Samson & Delilah

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be raised as a prince or princess. You cannot do what normal people do. You are expected to attend private schools, expected to attain a certain standard, expected to mix with posh people, expected not to marry a commoner, expected to show little emotion in public, and expected to be watched by security at all times. You are called and with your call comes an expectation. I wonder how often a prince or princess wishes they were just ordinary people. Does the prince wish he could date the girl next door? Does the princess wish she could escape royal security?
Samson was called to great things but then he noticed Philistine women and  wanted the freedom to enjoy them. Christians are called to great things but we are often side tracked by what the world offers. There is a lot we can learn from Samson’s call and temptation.
Samson was called to be a Nazirite from birth – A Nazirite was an Israelite that had separated himself to God for a period of time. He was not to drink wine, not to go near a dead body, and not to cut his hair. Basically he was an ultra-dedicated Israelite, and as such he was also expected to set an example in following the normal Israelite laws like not marrying foreign women, not eating unclean foods, and always keeping the Sabbath. But Samson began to battle with his call and started looking for ways to escape the security cameras. He visited the Philistine cities and mingled with their women; probably eating unclean food and drinking wine in the process. Eventually he fell in love with more than one Philistine; Delilah being the final one that led him to his demise.
Now, in many ways Samson is Israel. Any Israelite reading Samson’s story would recognize that his story was the nation’s story. Israel was a nation with a special calling. She was set apart for God. She was to be an example to all nations of what it is like to have the living God as King. But Israel soon forgot its calling and began to blend in with their Canaanites neighbours; embracing their gods just like Samson did the Philistine women.
Both Samson and Israel are a warning to the Church. The Church has a special calling and it’s very easy for us to forget it as we associate with people of different values. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in all that the world does and find we have lost the heart to be different. So let’s look at Samson’s temptation.
Tom Jones sang, “Why, why, why Delilah?” Well Tom; she was the enemy and she was paid! Delilah was the perfect instrument to match Samson’s weakness – beautiful but dedicated to Philistia – she would have made a perfect Bond girl! Once she had settled in with Samson, it did not take her long to pick the locks of his faith. Hmmm, I have seen this too often…
I live in a city of multiple religions and it happens like this: A Christian marries someone of another faith and it doesn’t take long before manipulation sets in – either through the partner or the in-laws. Pressure is applied for children to take a name from the other religion. When the child visits the in-laws alone it is taught to pray their way while the parents aren’t looking. When it’s time for the Christian partner to go to church on a Sunday the in-laws come around to say hullo. Soon the family is full of conflicts and questions, and soon it seems only civilized to see both religions as equal expressions of worship. But at that point you have forgotten your calling to be different, you are salt that has lost its saltiness, you are Samson focused on Delilah.
Let me be clear. It is for good reasons that scripture tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (non-Christians). Unequal yoking can and does produce problems; many problems (2 Co 6.14).
Samson’s hair was cut and his strength was lost. Who can forget this moment? It is strong imagery. The author expects us to see the symbolism and take it seriously. Samson’s hair is a symbol of his devotion to God. Through this devotion he has divine strength. This is true of every Christian today.
Samson reveals the secret of his strength to Delilah. It’s normal that we share everything with those we love. The only problem is that Delilah is a double agent. And once she has this knowledge she lulls the great Israelite warrior to sleep on her lap. When a warrior of Israel is asleep on a Philistines lap, you know he has forgotten what he was called to do! Delilah then has the seven braids of his head shaved off. Since they were symbols of his devotion to God, it meant that Delilah had just reduced Samson’s devotion to nothing. Samson suddenly found himself to be weak and unable to respond when the Philistine soldiers entered the room. Later they bound and blinded him. When the Church loses its devotion to God it finds it is weak, bound, and blind. And like Samson we become the object of the world’s mockery and entertainment.
Fortunately the story does not end here. Samson’s new hardship awakens him to who he is. His hair starts to grow back and his strength returns. This is a symbol of his devotion filtering through once again. Soon Samson’s desire to fulfil God’s call bursts into flame. He calls on the Lord to give him one more chance to take out the Philistines, and God obliges. And in his death Samson kills more Philistines than ever before.
Often its only when it all goes wrong that we realize what we have lost. Most commoners would jump at the opportunity to be a prince or princess. Most would say the call is worth giving everything up for. Why for a moment of pleasure do we sacrifice the precious? As children of God and warriors of  spiritual Israel, we have an enormously special calling. We have been set apart for God’s purposes. Let us not allow this world and its ways lull us to sleep on its lap and rob us of our strength. Let us remember who we are, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12.1-3)

Other Illustrations: Being a daughter of Obama, Personal Testimony – Calling vs The World.

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