So Samson went down…to the vineyards of Timnah. Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. Judges 14:5-6
So What’s the Problem
At first glance, it all seems innocent enough—Sampson is strolling through a pleasant little vineyard, seeking out his beautiful bride-to-be, when to his surprise he stumbles upon a roaring lion. What’s the problem? The problem is that Sampson took a Nazirite vow (*see Numbers 6) which means he was set aside for the Lord; he wasn’t allowed to consume alcohol or even look at a grape lest he be tempted. Since Sampson knew he wasn’t supposed to be there, he should not have been surprised by what he discovered when he got there. He was not acting soberly, he was not vigilant, therefore he met his adversary head on.
Sampson was surprised, but we should not be. The lion in the vineyard is symbolic of both satan and the stomping grounds over which he presides. When we go to the places that we know we ought not go, it should be of no surprise when we encounter the opposition. It’s a reality that if we tend to hang out in barbershops, it’s only a matter of time before we get a haircut and if we hang out in satan’s territory it’s inevitable we’re going to bump into him sooner than later.
God’s Grace and Mercy
God is omniscient; He has foreknowledge of Sampson’s propensity to sin and He allows his behavior to continue. Our wonderful, multi-tasking Lord seizes these opportunities in our lives so that He might display His grace and His mercy, that His ultimate plan will be realized, and that hopefully we will come to the place where we can see His Divine hand in all of it.
Don’t think for one moment that God winks at our sin. He knows what we’re going to do before we do it and will use it for His greater good, even if it hurts us badly. Thankfully, God tends to give us (like Sampson) numerous opportunities to atone and receive from Him. If we don’t than we run the risk of becoming a blessing to others through our ‘What-not-to-do’ ministries. Our salvation is not in necessarily jeopardy, but when the Christian chooses to willingly sin, he will reap what he has sown and becoming a ‘bad example’ is to be expected. This is Sampson’s fate, although by God’s grace he is redeemed by the end of the story.
Sampson fails to realize it initially, but it’s only by the Spirit of the Lord that we are empowered to overcome the influence of satan—we cannot overcome the enemy apart from Jesus Christ. It is only because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross that satan is rendered powerless and unless we claim that truth as our own we are defenseless against the roaring lion that seeks our destruction. Sampson took the glory for God’s power and paid a huge price. We have his error as our example so that we might not stumble similarly.
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:1-4