Wednesday, August 11

Worse Than Blind

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Samson and Delilah, ca. 1610
London, National Gallery

Sad? No, worse than that. Insane would be more like it. The story of Samson’s acquiescence to Delilah’s overt machinations reveals the judge of Israel to be nothing short of delirious.
And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.” And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:15–17)
“Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice . . .” Right?! Oh, that pales by comparison! Unbelievable! You have to admit it. It’s plain ridiculous! I mean, how many times do you have to be bamboozled before you “get it?” It’s as if Samson were taking a flying leap off a cliff onto a bed of nails willingly! 

What is it in us that so willingly walks (yes, even runs) into destruction? Yet, that is exactly what sin (in all its forms) does. We could rail on Samson for his obvious dismissal of all rational thought. In a sense he deserves it. (Oddly enough--or NOT--his very foolishness became the means to thoroughly judge the Philistines and deliver Israel). But in another very real and quite embarrassing sense, we are not that unlike him! Isn't all sin a type of insanity? Going up against God cannot be thought to be anything less than the leaving behind of one's own senses. Still, we do it . . . even Christians! 

So, how shall we overcome? Samson avenged himself in the end, bowing against the supporting pillars of the foreign temple bringing it down on 3,000 Philistines and himself as well. It was worth it to him. But was it only worth it because he got revenge? That would be sad . . . to have accomplished such an evident Spirit-empowered feat of strength ONLY for personal revenge! Even our "solutions" can be tainted with self-interest! That's scary isn't it? Of course, we can't say that he only did it for selfish reasons. Perhaps as his hair grew so did his faith. What a fall from which to retrieve oneself!

No wonder Solomon warned his son, "Keep your heart with all vigilance . . ." (Prov. 4:23a), because from the heart issues sin. And from the same heart issues either godly or ungodly sorrow. The simple way, the best way, the godly way to handle such egregious trespasses is to simply call your sin what it is (since God already knows) and ask forgiveness. What a wonderful means to resolve our transgressions. And how apathetically we often are to take advantage of it. Lord, lead us away from self-correction into Spirit-conviction, repentance and resolution. Cleansed! Purified! Resolved. 

Yes! No matter how foolish we have been, there's no profit in revenge, or in circumnavigating our Lord's complete forgiveness. Jesus' blood has already brought down the pagan temples of our lives. Ours is to gratefully accept it . . . and LIVE!

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