Before Samson was born, his parents dedicated his life to God by taking the Nazirite vow for the whole family.
Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth. Judges 13:4-5
Samson broke all those rules but one over and over again.
Samson convinced his parents to arrange a marriage to a Philistine woman (a gentile whom God said his people should NOT marry). On the way to the wedding, he took honey from the carcass of a dead lion and ate it (very unclean). During the seven day wedding party, he made a bet with his new kinsfolk, which he lost. In a drunken rage, he murdered 30 men, stole their clothes (off their dead bodies).
That’s three rules broken in one week. Three strikes and you’re out, at least that is what we often say. When I read the story of Samson, I shake my head and wonder why God continued to use such a weak willed man. Most of the time, Samson acted like a spoiled brat throwing a tantrum every time he didn’t get his way. Part of me says God should dump the loser and found someone better.
But God’s grace goes far beyond the three strikes rule. Time after time, sin after sin, failure after failure, God forgave and kept using his chosen instrument. When Samson allowed a woman (Philistine) he was sleeping with (unmarried) shave his head and betray him to his enemies, God finally left him. Samson went into slavery, blinded, weak, and useless except for grinding grain the Philistine prison.
At some point in that dark and horrible place, Samson finally let go of his pride and selfishness. Perhaps he had to plummet into the depths before God could really work on his heart. In the end, Samson cried out to God.
“Oh Sovereign Lord, remember me. Oh God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus, he killed many more when he died than while he had lived. Judges 16:28, 30
Samson’s last and greatest feat of strength could only come after he submitted his life and will completely to the Lord. At last, the strong man fulfilled his destiny.
It is so easy to look at Samson’s failures and wonder why God kept using him. Why put so much responsibility and trust in a person so unworthy?
But are we any better? I know that I fail, I sin, and I fall short in so many ways. If God were to follow the three-strike rule, I would be lost indeed. But God will always forgive us and rescue us when we call out to him.
He is waiting for us to come to that place of surrender so that he can use us to bring about mighty works of faith.