The Flawed Life of Samson – Broken Vow, Broken Life – 2 of 4
The Book of Judges records the stories of thirteen different leaders called judges who led Israel over a period of about 400 years. These leaders were supposed to help free God’s people from their oppressors. During Samson’s life the oppressors were the Philistines. Some of those judges were very strong and righteous leaders. And others were like Samson. Samson was destined to do great things, but he never reached his potential. Like us, he was a flawed person. But the problem was that he never let God help him with those flaws. He always gave in to them. We can all relate to Samson because we all struggle with pride. Pride is tricky—we usually recognize it in someone else before you see it in ourselves. Samson shows us four warning signs of pride that all of us are susceptible to. And if we don’t deal with pride it will ruin our lives (Proverbs 16:18). What are the warning signs that pride might be a problem in your life?
Warning sign #1: Pride never admits it is wrong. Samson sinfully killed Philistines, but never admitted his wrong (Judges 15:15-17). If you proudly see yourself as being better than others, and smarter than others, and more important than others, why would you ever need to admit that you are wrong? Samson never does. When is the last time you said, “I was wrong. Would you please forgive me? I was wrong. I was selfish. I lied to you. I kept that from you, and I know that I shouldn’t have. Please forgive me.”
Warning Sign #2: Pride craves recognition. Samson even memorialized his sin, calling the place “Jawbone Hill” (Judges 15:17). Samson is not bragging about God; he’s bragging about what he has done. We smile at the “look at me” focus in children—but then we take that same focus into adulthood. Anyone heard of a “selfie”?! “Look at me. Look at what I’m doing. Look at where I am. Like me, like me, like me!” Judges 15:16-17 is nothing but Samson’s Facebook post, his Instagram video. “Hey, look at all these corpses I’ve piled up!” Look at what I’ve done. I need to spotlight on me. But pride is subtle. C.S. Lewis wrote: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something. Pride only has pleasure in having more than the next person. Proud people are not really proud of being successful, or intelligent or good looking. They are proud of having more success, more intelligence and better looks than the people around them.”
In Judges 15:18ff something subtle yet sinful occurs: Samson’s killing spree has left him incredibly thirsty and he cries out to God for help. But even in the midst of this prayer Samson is subtly bragging. Prayer is supposed to keep pride at bay, but not for Samson. Pride is always complaining. It says, “I’m not getting what I deserve.” Samson is like, “God, after my great victory, I should have an ice chest full of Gatorade!” Even in the face of Samson’s complaining, God still graciously provides (v. 19). And what was Samson’s response. He named the place after himself, not after the God who provided! Samson even made this instance of God’s gracious provision, all about him. Can you get anymore prideful than this? Samson is saying, “Did you guys just see what my prayers did? Made the waters come out of ground. How awesome am I? I’m a great prayer warrior! Let’s memorialize that and name this spot after me.” Samson never gave God credit. Pride is ugly, isn’t it? The problem is that we can see pride in everyone but ourselves.
Warning Sign #3: Pride never listens to advice. If you look back over these two verses, Samson is doing all the talking. He never reflects on what the Scriptures say. He never consults God on anything. Samson didn’t listen to the wisdom of his parents either (see Judges 13). Samson does what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. What God wants isn’t even on his radar. Pride never listens to advice, because pride doesn’t need advice. Pride’s ideas, opinions and desires are superior to everyone else’s. It’s easy to see arrogance Samson’s life, but it’s so hard to see in ourselves. How many times have you known what God would have you do, but instead, you did what you wanted to do, said what you wanted to say, went where you wanted to go, bought what you wanted to buy?
Warning Sign #4: Pride doesn’t think about others. Pride doesn’t ask, “I wonder what others need?” Samson led a proud, self-centered life for 20 year while he should have been serving his people (v. 20).
The antidote for pride is humility, which means “to make yourself low.” That is how we battle pride. Humility is thinking of yourself less (Philippians 2:3-4). Humility is a powerful agent for change in the world. Think about what would happen in your family, workplace or school if this was your attitude, “How can I help you? How can I serve you?” Our most powerful example of this, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-8). But how am I going to become more humble? I have to spend time with Jesus, because Jesus is the most humble person who ever lived. He is the exact opposite of Samson. You can’t humble yourself further than to come from heaven to earth, being divine but putting on human flesh, and dying for others’ sins! Spend with Jesus this week; read his Word. Humbly pray to him. Say “Jesus, help me to follow your example of humility. Better yet, express your life through me.”
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
Identity which of the four warning signs of pride you most need to work on. Then pray, “Jesus, please help me in this area of pride. Cultivate within me your humble attitude.”
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)