Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Samson - Anointed Deliverer

Samson in prison

by Dennis Pollock

Samson is a fascinating character of Israel's early days. He was a man of great contradictions: he was fearless, yet unable to resist nagging women; anointed, yet deeply flawed, a ruler of Israel, but unable to rule his own passions. Samson was a man filled with the Holy Spirit long before Jesus would proclaim the fullness of the Spirit for those who would believe in Him. And though it is unlikely any of us will ever be called or anointed in the precise manner of this ancient judge of Israel, we can learn much of the ways of the Holy Spirit by observing Samson's life, his successes and his failures.

Before Samson was born or even conceived God had a purpose for his life. An angel appeared to a Jewish woman from the tribe of Dan and told her that though she had been barren, she would conceive and bear a son. She was told that this child would be a Nazirite to God from birth. This referred to the Nazirite vow the Jews occasionally took to temporarily devote themselves completely to God. They were to demonstrate their devotion through abstaining from wine (no small thing in the Jewish culture) and not cutting their hair. This Nazirite vow was almost always a temporary state which might last a few weeks or months. In Samson's case, it was to be his rule of life for all his days.

Just as God sovereignly chose Samson, He likewise began to fill him with the power of the Holy Spirit at His own prerogative. It is highly unlikely that Samson had been praying and asking the Lord to fill him with the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless we read: "The Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol." Samson was being acquainted with the Third Person of the Trinity, an association that would bring amazing victories to the people of God and terrible defeats for their enemies.  

Birth of a Ministry 

Samson fightsSamson's emergence as a leader and deliverer of Israel had a strange beginning. It started with his attraction to a woman who was of the very people who had dominion over Israel. He fell in love with a Philistine young woman! His parents immediately protested and wanted to know why it was he couldn't find girl from his own people, rather than this woman from "the uncircumcised Philistines." We read a strange comment in the Scriptures as this story is related however: "But his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord—that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines."

Here we see both the sovereignty of God and the weakness of man. God was determined to use his servant to bring deliverance to the people of Israel, and Samson's lack of wisdom wasn't going to deter Him. Indeed it was the very means He used to get things moving. It is one of the great mysteries of God that He can and sometimes does use the flaws and poor decisions of men and women to bring glory to Himself. This is no reason to excuse our flaws or poor choices. More often than not they bring us misery and do no good for anybody. But without question there are times when God, for His own reasons, mingles His own sovereign purposes with our foolishness and brings about positive ends.

This eagerness of Samson to marry the daughter of the enemy of his people is our first glimpse into a character flaw that will exact a terrible price from the great deliverer. God may have used his romantic impulsiveness for His own ends this time, but later its fruits will be far less positive. The problem with weaknesses is that they tend to be magnified with age. His teachers reported that Adolf Hitler was bossy and disagreeable as a child, but he was manageable. Forty years later that anger and controlling nature would bring untold destruction to the whole earth. The essence of the sin nature is corruption, and this word implies decay. Time is not the friend of our ungodly tendencies. This is why young people need to look carefully at the flaws and weaknesses of their prospective spouses (and to wait long enough for marriage until those flaws surface). What may be a minor annoyance at twenty could well become a huge source of misery at fifty. No one is perfect, but some weaknesses can be endured a whole lot easier than others! 

Samson's Strength 

The key to Samson's great victories over the Philistines may be found in a single phrase: "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him…" When he was attacked by a lion, he found strength to tear the lion apart when "the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him." When an army of the Philistines surrounded the town he was staying in, and demanded they bring him out to them, Samson agreed to go out to them bound with new ropes. When the Philistine soldiers saw their nemesis being brought out, they rushed upon him with shouts of anger and triumph. It looked like it was all over for the great warrior, but then we read: 

Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it (Judges 15:14,15). 

Throughout his life, Samson frequently experienced supernatural strength from the Holy Spirit that enabled him to do things he should never have been able to do. The song, "You Raise Me Up," describes the blessing of dependence upon God. One of the lines repeated throughout the song certainly applies to Samson's life: "You raise me up to more than I can be." Samson became far more than he ever could have been in his own strength. It is amazing what can be done when the Spirit of the Lord comes upon a man or a woman.

It is wonderful to recognize that this is the exact language used by our Lord, when He promised His disciples, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." This idea of the Spirit coming upon one is not strictly a New Testament phenomenon. Samson knew it over a thousand years before Pentecost. In his case the anointing was to kill Philistines – but this was not the purpose Jesus had in mind for His followers. He finished His statement about us receiving the power of the Spirit with these words: "And you shall be My witnesses." Same Holy Spirit, same coming upon, but for a different purpose. Sometimes we focus too much on the difficulty of turning men and women to Jesus. It is true that the heart of men is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked," but the power we receive to witness of Christ is greater still. We should go about our evangelistic efforts, whether in personal witnessing or in mass events, with confidence. Between the enablement of the Holy Spirit and the power of the gospel of Christ, we can expect to see results. We have been well equipped! 

Samson's Weakness 

Samson get a haircut

Let's take a little closer look at Samson's great weakness, which had to do with women. Over the twenty year course of his leadership of Israel, three incidents are reported, but it is likely that these are only representative cases. Here was a man that clearly had a problem when it came to women. We have already mentioned his falling in love with and marrying a Philistine woman. In another place we are told that he "went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her." The first incident was a lust of the heart; this time it is the lust of the flesh. He does not want to marry this lady; he just wants a little physical pleasure.

People reading this story for the first time may be shocked. How can an anointed man of God, one who had the Spirit of God coming upon him, be so careless and carnal? This incident reveals a truth many Christians don't seem to get. Anointing does not take away humanity or neutralize the sin nature. Power does not always mean purity. We tend to look at individuals who carry a great anointing and are mightily used by God and assume they must be such holy individuals their feet barely touch the ground. Surely they walk about the earth continually thinking holy, elevated thoughts, with never a temptation or an urge to do wrong.

What many fail to see is that there are two separate works of the Holy Spirit in the believer. We have the Spirit come upon us for power to do the work we are called to, but there is also the inner working of the Spirit to produce the fruits or righteousness and godly character. Character without power for service is nice, but leaves us ineffective. We may impress people with our (Christ's) goodness, but we touch few lives. On the other hand, power for service without godly character may bring blessings to others, but eventually it will prove disastrous.

We have all seen the results of this in famous ministers who fell into immorality and destroyed their ministries, leaving all sorts of wreckage and misery in their wake. Some time ago a popular televangelist was discovered to have been sexually immoral. His fall brought pain and disillusionment to many Christians and gave the skeptics and mockers one more reason to doubt Christianity. In one of his televised talks after this became known, he made the statement, "God does not anoint sin." He seemed to be saying, "Look, I'm still anointed. People still come to Jesus when I preach. What I have done can't be all that bad."

God may not anoint sin, but He does anoint people who fall into sin. And in one of those great mysteries of God, He does not withdraw that anointing immediately once they commit acts of immorality. This brother seemed to eventually recover and carry on with his ministry, but it was only a shadow of what it once was. If we had to choose between power and purity, no doubt purity would be the preferred choice. But God never asks us to make such a choice.

Samson's weakness toward women eventually leads him into a relationship with a greedy woman named Delilah. For a price she pesters him into revealing the secret of his strength (his Nazirite rule of life), cuts his hair, and turns him over to his enemies. Samson is captured, has his eyes put out, and becomes a slave of the Philistines. Eventually he is granted one last anointing which results in the death of 3,000 Philistines, but clearly the record of his life is permanently marred by his reckless attitude toward the opposite sex. Surely his mother was right – he should have married a nice Jewish girl! 


The story of Samson is so very relevant and instructional to us at many levels. First and foremost it teaches us that God anoints and uses men and women with flaws and weaknesses. What other choice does He have? Furthermore, and what is most puzzling to us, He sometimes uses men and women who have major flaws – they are not just imperfect, but very imperfect. This is no excuse for sin; it is simply the way things are.

Secondly we can see that though God may use us, warts and all, if we do not deal with those weaknesses, we will eventually pay a terrible price. Samson could have reigned far longer and accomplished much more for Israel had he found the grace to avoid ungodly women. Proverbs teaches us that by wisdom and the fear of the Lord our years may be lengthened, and surely the reverse is true as well – a lack of wisdom may well shorten our days. And without a doubt it will diminish much of the good we could have accomplished through any anointing we may have received.

The great advantage we have over Samson is Jesus Christ! Samson had never read about Jesus, and His keeping, confirming, and preserving grace. The same Jesus who promises us the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives also is able to preserve our whole spirit, soul, and body blameless until His coming. We can not only trust Him for power to witness, but also for the power to live uprightly. He who died on the cross to forgive and save us now lives to preserve us. He is faithful! It is not our job to keep ourselves; it is His. It is our task to look to the One who declared to the Father, "Those whom You have given Me I have kept."

For a full listing of all devos (written and audio) go to our Devos Catalog Page.


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