The Lord Had Left Him

Judges 16:17-21

There are many tragic events recorded in the Bible, but there is hardly a statement as tragic as these words in the book of Judges about Samson: “But he did not know that the Lord had left him.” (Judges 16:20)

Is there anything more pitiful than a person who does not know his or her own spiritual poverty? Perhaps the only thing worse is when a person does not even want to know anything about his or her spiritual condition!

Sooner or later, however, the person without God will find out how tragic it is to be separated from Him. Samson found out soon enough.

He told Delilah the secret of his Nazirite vow to never cut his hair. He actually told her that he was “set apart to God since birth” and that God was with him as long as Samson was faithful to Him.

His long hair was not the source of his power. It was only the outward indication of his being a Nazirite — his separation to God. Actually, it was his relationship with God that made him strong. Still, if his hair was cut off, he would be powerless.

Delilah finally knew that she had his secret. She used her charm to put Samson to sleep on her lap and then called his enemies to shave off his hair.

The charm of Delilah was too strong for Samson’s heart! And what a thousand strong men failed to do, one woman’s charm and influence was able to achieve.

Samson had a rude awakening. With his hair cut off, he had no strength. He tried to overcome the Philistines in vain. It was too late. Samson “did not know that the Lord had left him.” The Philistines gouged out Samson’s eyes and imprisoned him in Gaza, where he was forced to grind grain.

Someone once described this triple humiliation as the “binding, blinding, grinding bondage of sin.”

Samson, who had killed a thousand men with a donkey’s jawbone, who had become a terror to the Philistines, and who was supposed to be filled with the power of God, was now humiliated, degraded and the slave of pagans who rejoiced that their god Dagon had given them the victory.

Samson had made a commitment to God. He had dedicated his life to Him. But at one point he started compromising. First, he became a slave to his passions, which led him away from God and into slavery. He eventually became a blind and pitiful slave to the Philistines.

I have heard people say that Samson was an example of heroism and self-sacrifice, and some even would look at him as a type of Christ. Nothing can be further from the truth. Samson is an example of how not to serve God!

He could have been a great judge of Israel. He could have demonstrated not only physical superiority over the Philistines, but spiritual and moral superiority. He could have been a spiritual giant. He could have been an example of a life unstained by the lust of power, the lust of the flesh, and the pull of the world. Samson was brought up in a godly home where his parents feared God. In Judges 13:24-25 we read: “The Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him.”

So what happened? Samson became enslaved to his own selfish desires. He became bored of the country life in the tribe of Dan and went down to Timnah where the things of the world attracted him. He married a Philistine girl against his parents’ advice.

From then on the story of Samson is a shameful life of wine, women and sin. A victim of his passions, he wasted his strength and eventually became a slave.

The story of Samson is very similar to the story of another young man who wasted his life. That young man came to his father and demanded his inheritance (Luke 15). He said to his father: “Give me…” That was the first downward step.

“And he went to a far country and there he wasted whatever he had in immoral living. And when everything he had was gone, he remembered his life at home, before he had turned his back to God and his parents.”

There comes a time when the last drop of pleasure has been squeezed out of sin, when the thrill of pleasure has passed and shame, regret, sorrow and guilt fill the heart of the sinner.

The prodigal son changed from a privileged, wealthy young man to a humiliated, hungry beggar, with no food or a place to stay. He ended up a servant, feeding pigs. That is, until he came to himself and went back home.

This is the difference between the prodigal son and Samson. Samson never came to himself. He eventually destroyed himself and his enemies in revenge. His final prayer was only that his own passions might be revenged. He prayed: “O God please strengthen me just once more and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Samson hated his enemies and he let his hatred consume both him and them in revenge.

How much happier is the ending of the story of the prodigal son! That young man came home. He repented. He decided that he would go back to his father on any possible terms. And what a wonderful reception he received. Before he even reached home, his father, who apparently was looking for him, saw his son while he was yet at a distance, had compassion and ran and kissed him.

This is a picture of God’s love for us all. Even though we may have wasted our lives and inheritance and have become slaves to our selfish desires, God sees us coming home and has compassion on us and comes to meet us where we are. Why does He do this? Because He loves us.

The tragedy of Samson was that “he did not know that the Lord had left him.” Because he did not recognize his condition, and because he did not know that he was weak, sinful, poor and blind, his life ended in shame and death.

But life does not have to end that way. Jesus paid the price for our salvation. He died and rose again and He is alive today and forever. By trusting Him you can live in fellowship with Him.

God cares for you and me. Jesus died so you and I can live. Come to Him. He is ready and waiting to receive you!

Pastor Joseph Hovsepian