Strong Christians with Skinny Arms
- Samson was dedicated as a Nazarite at birth:
no touching dead bodies no grapes, grape juice, raisins, wine no haircuts
Supernatural Strength -
And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring.6 Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. - 14:5-6;
And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town… - 14:19;
When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. 15 And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men. - 15:14-15
Acknowledged his victory was from God -
And he was very thirsty, and he called upon the Lord and said, “You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 And God split open the hollow place that is at Lehi, and water came out from it. - 15:18-19
Judged Israel 20 years!
Skinny Arms -
And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.” - 16:5-6
Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut - Hot dog eating champions
How could he be defeated?
- by this time, believed his own press. Believed in his own strength. When he carried off the gates of Gaza after sleeping with a prostitute… he did that with his own muscles. He didn’t need the spirit of the Lord. And this Nazarite vow? He had touched plenty of carcases. The dead lion. The jawbone of a donkey. The bodies he looted at Ashkelon. He had drunk wine at the vineyards of Timnah. He believed he had strength in himself. Why did he need God?
bow strings - animal gut (breaking Nazarite vow) new ropes - made of green grape vines weave hair into a loom - (flirting with the edge) cut off all my hair - telling the story, but believing in his own strength.
And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. - 16:20
“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”
“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
I had always heard (from sermons, children’s books maybe) that the reason Samson was able to defeat the Philistines in the end was because his hair had started growing out again.
That after they captured him and put his eyes out… by the time they hauled him out for their great sacrifice to Dagon ()… that his hair had started to grow out again, so his strength was coming back (as if the power was ever in the hair).
But the power was never in the hair. Or in his muscles.
The power was only ever in his dependence on God!
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Are you trying to go along in your own strength?
Maybe things have gone well for you, so you haven’t felt the need to lean on God…
Maybe you’ve started believing your own press. Depending on your own goodness, your own righteousness, your own strength, your own intellect and ability…
From “The Power of Habit” - Charles Duhigg
About sixty people—soccer moms and lawyers on lunch breaks, old guys with fading tattoos and hipsters in skinny jeans—are sitting in a church and listening to a man with a slight paunch and a tie that complements his pale blue eyes. He looks like a successful politician, with the warm charisma of assured reelection.
“My name is John,” he says, “and I’m an alcoholic.”
“Hi, John,” everyone replies.
“The first time I decided to get help was when my son broke his arm,” John says. He’s standing behind a podium. “I was having an affair with a woman at work, and she told me that she wanted to end it. So I went to a bar and had two vodkas, and went back to my desk, and at lunch I went to Chili’s with a friend, and we each had a few beers, and then at about two o’clock, me and another friend left and found a place with a two-for-one happy hour. It was my day to pick up the kids—my wife didn’t know about the affair yet—so I drove to their school and got them, and I was driving home on a street I must have driven a thousand times, and I slammed into a stop sign at the end of the block. Up on the sidewalk and, bam, right into the sign. Sam—that’s my boy— hadn’t put on his seat belt, so he flew against the windshield and broke his arm. There was blood on the dash where he hit his nose and the windshield was cracked and I was so scared. That’s when I decided I needed help.
“So I checked into a clinic and then came out, and everything was pretty good for a while. For about thirteen months, everything was great. I felt like I was in control and I went to meetings every couple of days, but eventually I started thinking, I’m not such a loser that I need to hang out with a bunch of drunks. So I stopped going.
“Then my mom got cancer, and she called me at work, almost two years after I got sober. She was driving home from the doctor’s office, and she said, ‘He told me we can treat it, but it’s pretty advanced.’ The first thing I did after I hung up is find a bar, and I was pretty much drunk for the next two years until my wife moved out, and I was supposed to pick up my kids again. I was in a really bad place by then. A friend was teaching me to use coke, and every afternoon I would do a line inside my office, and five minutes later I would get that little drip into the back of my throat and do another line.
“Anyways, it was my turn to get the kids. I was on the way to their school and I felt totally fine, like I was on top of everything, and I pulled into an intersection when the light was red and this huge truck slammed into my car. It actually flipped the car on its side. I didn’t have a scratch on me. I got out, and started trying to push my car over, because I figured, if I can make it home and leave before the cops arrive, I’ll be fine. Of course that didn’t work out, and when they arrested me for DUI they showed me how the passenger side of the car was completely crushed in. That’s where Sammy usually sat. If he had been there, he would have been killed.
“So I started going to meetings again, and my sponsor told me that it didn’t matter if I felt in control. Without a higher power in my life, without admitting my powerlessness, none of it was going to work. I thought that was bull—I’m an atheist. But I knew that if something didn’t change, I was going to kill my kids. So I started working at that, working at believing in something bigger than me. And it’s working. I don’t know if it’s God or something else, but there is a power that has helped me stay sober for seven years now and I’m in awe of it. I don’t wake up sober every morning—I mean, I haven’t had a drink in seven years, but some mornings I wake up feeling like I’m gonna fall down that day. Those days, I look for the higher power, and I call my sponsor, and most of the time we don’t talk about drinking. We talk about life and marriage and my job, and by the time I’m ready for a shower, my head is on straight.”
You may be a strong Christian, but never forget that your strength is in Christ alone.