... And Samson did not know that the LORD had left him. But the Philistines took him, put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. There they bound him with chains of brass, and set him to grinding in the prison house. (Judges 16:20-21)
Recall the story of Samson’s downfall. Samson was the original superhero, possessor of fantastic strength. He fell in love with Delilah, a woman from the tribe of the Philistines, archenemies of Samson's tribe. tribe. Samson married Delilah, and eventually told her that his strength lay in his hair. She promptly had him shaved bald and handed Samson over to his enemies for a neat little profit. The Philistines blinded him and set him to work grinding in the prison.
Imagine that you were with Samson in the Philistine prison. What could you say to encourage him? Would you say, “Accept where you are and look at the bright side of things”? Would you say, “Work hard, do a good job, and be a good witness to the Philistines”? Would you say, “Well Samson, you’ve got to take the bad times with the good times”?
Genuine encouragement for Samson can come from only one place. “Hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” (Psalm 130:7-8). For Samson, his only comfort comes through hope. Apart from hope, Samson is inextricably stuck in the pit of misery and regret.
We are in need of that same
hope. For without our even realizing it, Satan has done to
the Christians of America just what the Philistines did to Samson.
Satan has shaved us bald. He has blinded us, enchained us, and placed us
on a treadmill to grind out food for his evil empire. We are even worse
off than Samson, for by and large we are oblivious to our pitiful condition.
We only have a vague sense of being caught in a shallow lifestyle
which offers little rest, satisfaction, or fulfillment. Society
also bears witness to our spiritual powerlessness. The American Church
has failed to halt the destructive social trends which have ruined our
quality of life. Christian couples divorce right and left. Children
in Christian families turn to sex or drugs or suicide. Christians
live in a state of siege, gripped by fear.
How did our spiritual emasculation occur in the first place? Recall that Samson’s slide began when he fell in love with a beautiful woman from the neighboring Philistines. He still had his strength after he married, he still kept his vow to the Lord and his long hair. But day after day, Delilah wore away his resistance. She nagged him, robbing him of peace and tranquility. She held out her favors and refused to satisfy him. Finally, Samson broke down and gave away his secret. Delilah then put him to sleep, and when he woke up his strength was gone.
Spiritually, we have followed exactly in Samson's footsteps. We too have looked to our neighbors and fell in love with their prosperity, their lifestyle, and their possessions. “I can live like that and still walk with God”, we say to ourselves. Just like Samson! But day after day, the demands of our high-pressure, high-living lifestyles occupy the lion's share of our time and energy. Though outwardly we become increasingly wealthy, inwardly we become increasingly dissatisfied. This only causes us to work harder, thinking that more success will bring more fulfillment. The very jobs we slave at are targeted at promoting the same acquisitive, self-centered lifestyles that we ourselves are caught in. In the end our attachment to worldly values causes us to betray the secret of our spiritual strength. Our secret is not long hair; but rather what the hair really represents. For Samson's hair was connected to his head; but our Head is Christ. Just as Samson's strength was lost when the connection was severed, so our spiritual strength was lost when our connection to the Head is broken. Our worldly objectives have lulled us into spiritual slumber.
Samson gave up the secret of our strength, and we have given up our secret time with God in favor of worldly pursuits. Even if we do read the Bible or keep a “quiet time”, our minds are so occupied with busy thoughts that our connection to Jesus our Head is virtually broken. The Spirit of God has departed, and we are left to toil by our own strength. Though outwardly we may appear religious, and are capable of great "religious" works, to a great extent our works are carnal projects designed to appeal to the carnally-minded. In actuality, we have simply become cogs in Satan’s machine.
What then must we do?
We must recognize that we have become slaves under Satan's world system. We may not be able to free ourselves immediately, but we should continually look for opportunities to work our way loose (1 Corinthians 7:21). We should not stop being responsible and dependable employees: but we should cut down on overtime, and even consider requesting a reduction in regular hours. We should look for employment and volunteer opportunities which offer genuine service to those with serious needs, and not just provide money, success, and convenience to those who are smart, aggressive, and ambitious. We should not give away all our possessions and live as beggars: however, many of us could well afford to give away half (Luke 19:8).
We should repent before God in absolute contrition. We should pray to God for deliverance and restoration of spiritual strength. The strengthening will not return immediately, for just as hair takes time to grow back, so it will take time to re-establish our connection with Christ our spiritual Head.
Copyright © 1998 CrossPollen
Last Revised: March 20, 1999
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