Taking a moment of silence right now for those present day in and near Gaza. It breaks my heart any time we hear news reports of unrest between people in the world. What timing that we would be reading about this very region today as fighting erupts there after weeks of rising Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem.
Our reading focuses on a little side trip for our latest judge, Samson. Again, we see him giving in to his carnal desires. When I first imagined what life as a Nazirite would be like, I pictured monks praying. This is not the kind of life we see Samson living. He seems to take his might for granted. That’s lesson #1–don’t take your God given abilities for granted.
We’ve seen Samson fall into this trap before. He knows God is with him, and yet he does as he pleases and uses his power when it suits him. We didn’t hear that the events in today’s story were inspired by God. We do know that Samson’s strength, that which allowed him to lift the gate out of the ground and carry it to the top of a hill, sets him apart.
Samson did have enough sense to know he had a target on his back when it came to the Philistines. He had made enemies from his past actions. He was likely to make a stir wherever he went. While he took time to have a little fun, he also knew to outthink his enemies.
In this case, we can see lesson #2 — be aware of your surroundings so you can keep yourself safe. While you and I may not be running from the enemy like Samson, we do encounter evil that tries to infiltrate our lives and make us do ungodly things.
Here in Mexico, we are aware of dangerous situations that could be happening in our neighborhoods, so we keep alert so we can avoid those areas. This can be said for just about any large city around the world. We can all picture areas of town we avoid to keep ourselves out of harm’s way.
While we may question Samson’s choices, he does tend to want to make a statement. He wasn’t content to just sneak out of the city. He had to do something mighty, like lift up the gate itself and carry it away. While we may wonder where those men were that were guarding the gate, we have to assume they simply fell asleep, content that the locked gate would keep Samson inside.
Lesson #3 then is to use your gifts to make a statement. Samson was never timid in using his strength to impress or get his point across. While I would have liked to have seen him give glory to God or be a little less full of himself, he was at least using his gifts. Many times we deny ourselves the honor of using our gifts as God intends.
Take some time today to thank God for gifting you as he has. Ask him to show you new ways you can use your gifts.
Let’s pray …
Lord, you are so wise, so loving, and so patient with me! Thank you for loving me along as I figure out the plan you have for me. Open my eyes and heart to be ready to be your servant. In Jesus’ name. Amen.