This past week, I preached an overview message on the life of Samson. I remember Samson from flannel boards and coloring books. I always heard about his God-given strength that was tied to his uncut hair- and how he tore a lion apart with his bare hands and could not resist the advances of Delilah.
But more than a hero- Samson is a cautionary tale of what happens when we become narcissistic and seeking to do what pleases us rather than seeking to do what pleases God.
In Judges 14, Samson “sees” a Philistine woman and demands that his parents bring her to him for his wife. His parents object in part because the Philistines were the enemies of Israel- this would have been a social faux pas and went religiously against that law of God. But Samson continues in 14:3, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” According to K. Lawson Younger Jr.’s commentary on Judges- the Hebrew literally means, “She is right in my eyes.”
After encountering and tearing apart a lion (which was a violation of his Nazarite status), Samson finally gets to meet this woman he wants to marry- but appears to have never spoken to! Samson is moved by his hungers and his lust. 14:7 says, “Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.” Again, Lawson says that “He liked her” literally means “she was right in his eyes.”
The irony of the story is that when Samson caves to the nagging of Delilah and is captured- the Philistines gouge out his eyes. The man who did what was right in his own eyes could not “see” what Delilah was up to- and now could not physically see because his eyes have been gouged out.
All of this foreshadows the last line of the book of Judges: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”
The problem with Samson and the Israelites in the book of Judges is that they did what was right in their own eyes rather than doing what was right in the eyes of God. This is our human condition. We are tempted in every way to do what is right in our own eyes; to give into our cravings and our lust. We are told that if it feels good- then do it. This is the prevailing moral message of our culture.
Deuteronomy 6:18 says, “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you…” We are to do what is right in God’s eyes- not our own. In order to do that, we must be students of the Scriptures-knowing what is in the word of God. We must practice prayer and discernment to seek God’s leading. And we must allow a holy boldness to fill our lives because doing what is right and good in the LORD’s sight is counter-cultural. We will need to daily abide in God’s presence and strength if we are to do so.
Samson is a cautionary tale for those who are tempted do what is right in their own eyes. May God give us eyes to see that His ways are higher than our ways. May we have eyes to see that God will provide for all our needs. May we have eyes to see the world as God sees it and to live in the love, grace, and mercy that God has shown us through Jesus.