“And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.” (Judges 16:30).
In his younger years, he never would have said it. Samson, though gifted and called by God, was a self-willed as they come.
But God would often redeem his self-determinate nature for his purposes.
Are you angry they learned the answer to your riddle, Samson? Well, attack Ashkelon. I know why you’re doing it, your pride has been deflated, but at least you can be a hero for Israel in the process.
Are you upset they gave your fiance to another man, Samson? Well, catch some foxes and light some fires in Philistine territory. I know why you’re doing it, you wanted a forbidden woman, but at least you can bring some of my judgment upon the Philistines in the process.
Have you been bound and delivered to the Philistines, by your people, due to the chaos you’ve caused? Well, snap those ropes, pick up a donkey’s jawbone, and swing away. I know you picked up that unclean piece of bone to gain personal vengeance, but at least my people will find some deliverance as a result of your life.
But, finally, a day came in Samson’s life where God departed from him. He no longer had the strength required to defeat his enemy. God would find other means to subdue the Philistines. Delilah betrayed him, yes, but Samson’s own heart betrayed him first. Captured and blinded, Samson toiled in Philistine captivity for years.
Eventually, a day came where the Philistine’s needed a new source of entertainment at one of their debaucherous festivals for their god Dagon. During the great sacrifice, they rejoiced that Dagon had given them victory over Samson. Weakened, a shadow of his former strength, Samson was brought forth and mocked. He'd become fuel for the fires of Dagon worship.
At that moment, with the help of the young man who led him, blind Samson’s hands found the support pillars of the structure. He prayed to God. In a sense, it was the same story. He wanted vengeance for his two eyes. In another, though, it was a different story, for he was ready to die. “Let me die with the Philistines,” he cried. As he broke the pillars, the building toppled. He died, and many Philistines with him. More Philistines came under divine judgment during Samson’s death during the entirety of Samson’s life.
Samson’s grandest victory did not come until he became willing to die. He is a muddle of failure and flesh, gifting and glory. Wading through Samson’s life is murky work.
However, this much we know: when Jesus came, he showed us a Good Shepherd who would lay down his life for the sheep. No ulterior motive existed. He was not in it for vain glory. He was in it for us. He was willing to die that we might live and that our enemies might be crushed.
Let us imitate our Lord and take up our cross daily to follow him. Let us become willing to die to the self that we might give life to those around us.