Samson ruled Israel for twenty years and that whole time suppressed his sensitivities to the Presence and voice of God by repeatedly ignoring God’s covenant call on his life.
How did he suppress and ignore?
- Samson demanded to have a wife outside the faith and from the enemy nation oppressing Israel at the time.
- On his way to get her, Samson went through Timnah’s vineyards, which bore the very fruit he was to avoid. Too close for comfort.
- On a second trip through that vineyard Samson ate honey from the unclean dead carcass of the lion he had killed on his first trip.
- And finally, Samson capitulated to the demands of an attractive woman he desired, who had thinly veiled designs to take him down.
Samson ignored the call of the covenant of God on his life for twenty years.
God was patient with Samson’s disobedience for twenty years.
God continued to use Samson for twenty years.
But finally, after Delilah had coaxed the truth out of Samson, and the Philistines were on him for the fourth straight time, Judges 16:20 records words that send a chill through me every time I read them…
“He did not know that the Lord had left him.”
I am compelled to stop there every time I read the story and cry out, with David, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Spirit from me.” (Psalms 51:11)
Two things jump out at me from Samson’s story:
- Samson did not know
Somewhere in the twenty years of determined disobedience Samson had lost all impression of God’s Presence. Samson had finally arrived at the place where his heart was too hard to hear or sense God.
The same thing happened to King Saul. (1 Samuel 14:13)
The same thing happened to the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. After a lifetime of studying Scripture and serving God they did not “recognize the time of God’s coming.” (Luke 19:44)
- The Lord left Samson
Samson was left to face the enemy completely on his own. His calling gone. His defenses down. His strength gone.
Taken captive into the enemy’s camp.
This is not a call to fear, but to caution…and to the careful nurture of our hearts in God’s Presence. For Samson, Saul and the Pharisees it boiled down to a heart condition.
What is the temperature of your heart towards God today?
Do you have a sensitivity to the impression of His presence and His voice?
When last were you stirred by His Word or lost in wonder and worship?
Remember His love for you today, and His patience with Samson for twenty years…and draw near.