What Happens When God Lets His Hair Down

There are some freaky stories in the Bible.
There’s no use pretending that isn’t true.
Even the staunchest defender of God’s word has to admit, it’s full of weird.
I openly proclaim I’m one of those literal readers of the word, mocked so often by modern media.
I believed in Noah and the flood long before the motion picture.
I’m certain Jonah rode in the belly of a great fish – (if Jesus could confirm it, why wouldn’t I?).
And I taught my children that Lot’s wife withered where she stood into a pile of salt for looking back at sin city when the angels helping her family escape warned her to keep her eyes forward.
But, even though I believe, that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that there are some bizarre tales in Scripture.
Often, even through the surreal and strange, I can see the lesson but there’s one Biblical character who baffles me every time.
Samson.
What a meatloaf!
Truly, Samson is like the reality TV star of the Old Testament.
You want to look away, you can’t find any real redeeming value in watching his antics, and yet, you just can’t change the channel until you see what he does next.
He petulantly demands a wife from the enemy tribe. A request that disturbs his parents. Why can’t he just find a nice Jewish girl?
But then, scripture tells us, the request was inspired by the Holy Spirit. God apparently wants to pick a fight with the Philistines and he uses impetuous Samson to do it.
This single verse of scripture, Judges 14:4, reminds me that God won’t get inside my genie bottle or my god box and play nice.
He’s knowable but that doesn’t mean I can always figure Him out. I think that’s a good thing in a God.
Samson has a special call from God on his life, right out of the gate.
He’s strong enough to rip a lion apart with his bare hands. He snacks on honey from the lion’s carcass and makes up riddles about it to confound his bride’s relatives.
The man’s just strange.
and kind of a bonehead when it comes to women.
His bride’s people pressure her to learn from him the answer to his riddle. So she whines and carries on, “Tell me the riddle or you hate me, you hate me.”
So, he gives in. She tells her people the answer, they tell him, and win their bet. He takes off in a rage and kills a bunch of other people in revenge. He leaves town, fuming, and they give his bride to the best man.
Seriously weird stuff. Seriously. By any standard.
In the next chapter, Samson decides to go visit the little woman. Apparently, he figured they saved her for him.
When he learns she’s no longer his, he uses his strange superpowers to catch 300 foxes, tie torches between their tails and set fire to the Philistine’s crops.
Of course, people try to capture him for that. He’s like the Hulk with the emotional maturity of a two-year-old.
They bind him with ropes but when God’s power comes upon him, the ropes burn off like flax and he picks up the jawbone of a donkey and kills 1000 men with it.
Makes you wonder why Noah’s the one with the motion picture, doesn’t it?
Samson was a wild man. I’m sorry, there’s no other way to say it. He’d have been more comfortable at a biker bar (well, he didn’t drink, but still) than a Sunday service in the Bible belt.
In chapter 16, the Biblical writer calmly tells us Samson visited a prostitute (and not to read to her from a Gideon Bible) and then he falls in lust with Delilah, the woman who will prove to be his downfall.
Not because she’s so crafty or skilled, mind you, but because he got tired of listening to her whine and nag and so divulged to her the secret of his strength.
Clearly, having learned NO lessons from his first Philistine bride.
Samson’s one redeeming moment is when, in his final imprisonment, his hair grows back and his strength is restored. Blinded and tied to a post, he brings down the roof on a crowd of Philistines and saves Israel in his death.
Sunday school teachers and preachers get exegetical muscle cramps trying to draw spiritual application from Samson’s life.
These lessons frequently get boiled down to cave man type bumper sticker lessons: Samson strong. Samson not always wise with women. Samson hero in the end.
And so, this entire blog post is my way of saying that if we’re followers of Jesus, the son of the Almighty God, we have to be prepared to say
– we don’t always understand God.
He uses gentle Stephen the first martyr who was guided by wisdom and reasoning and He uses wild and wooly Samson, who let little Samson make most of his decisions.
I think God included Samson’s story in the Bible just so we wouldn’t get too comfortable telling people exactly how God works and precisely what a follower of God looks like.
As soon as we get all puffed up with our understanding, we come across Judges 14 and we’re reduced to babbling, “Samson strong. Samson kill Philistines. Philistines bad. God is good.”
And we remember that God is always a few steps ahead of us – a little beyond us – with ways that elude us and plans that may include people we would otherwise write off as too strange for words.
The moral of the story? I think it’s this:
Sometimes, the best thing we can do for God is to let our hair down a little, raise the roof, and bring down the house.

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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Carla says:

    Ughhh–I forgot to sign in before I let my fingers fly, and lost all my comment–I HATE it when that happens!

    I love your sense of humor, Lori, I think you would fit into our family nicely 😉

    What I get out of Samson’s story is the same as Jonah’s–God uses imperfect people to get His message across. Some people convert into these saintly beings, their halos always visible. Some people stumble and fumble through life, character flaws and all–but when Abba needs to move, He moves. Samson had to go through a lot of growing up during his captivity years so that little Samson would not take such a place of prominence–and in dying defeated more Philistines than he might have had he chosen a more platonic lifestyle. Jonah spent 3 days in the fish’s belly–he smelled like old fish and needed a breath mint, and God had to keep pushing him all the way into Ninevah. He preaches this great fire and brimstone sermon, then sits back to watch the carnage of God raining down fire and brimstone. When that doesn’t happen, he’s angry! Why did you preach in the first place, Jonah? Cuz God made me. Why are you angry cuz God gave these people great light? Cuz they’re our enemies. Where’s your compassion? Fresh out. These examples should give us great hope–If Abba can do such works with the unwilling and the undeserved, how much more is He gonna use those of us who are standing in front of Him with our hand waving in front of Him yelling ‘Pick me! Pick me!’?

    Thanks again for your great work, Lori, may God bless you richly today.

  2. Anonymous says:

    A whole lot of people don’t think Christians have a sense of humor, you proved them wrong Lori. I certainly believe you have knowledge of the word and that is a good thing as well. Isaiah 55 vs 8 & 9 came to mind as I was reading.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate this post about Samson, he definitely is a character that you don’t here about unless some teachers want to make the point about the consequences of sin, especially sexual sin.
    He definitely blows our church theology away, and he would probably be in a biker bar for Sunday service.

  4. Jerzeeee says:

    Thank you for the insight, and willingness to blow out the walls!