"Then Samson said, 'With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men.'" Judges 15:16
Once again we find Samson in a familiar place. Samson's Achilles heel up to this point was his "turning aside." He was a Nazarite, devoted to God to do God's work. Many times the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and empowered him to do great and mighty things. However, many times Samson turned aside and did whatever he wanted to do. We called this his "Burger King" moments - "have it your way, right away!" With all that Samson had accomplished, both good and bad, we almost forget what the angel told his parents in Judges 13:5. The angel said, "He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines." Yet, Samson goes to a Philistine village to hang out, and then he marries a Philistine woman. She betrays him, and he goes to Ashkelon and kills thirty Philistine soldiers. Samson then goes back to check on his wife and finds out that she has been given to one of the men who attended the wedding. What did he do? He went out and caught three hundred foxes, tied torches between their tails, and set their fields on fire. The Philistines became angry and killed Samson's wife and father-in-law. Samson turned aside again. How? In Judges 15:7, Samson said, "Since you've acted like this, I swear that I won't stop until I get my revenge on you." He went out and slaughtered many Philistines, and then he found him a nice cave in Etam and disappeared. The problem here is found in verse 7: "I won't stop until I get my revenge on you." Instead of thinking of Israel, Samson was thinking of himself.
If we are not careful, many times we will use our work for the Lord and His empowerment in our lives for personal gain and credit. As Christ followers, we are called to make much of Christ, not of ourselves. We are called to do His work, not our own. We are called to advance the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of self. In Judges 15:11-17, Samson was confronted by the Israelites. He allowed them to turn him over to the Philistines. Again, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and empowered him to do great and mighty things. Samson reached down and picked up the jawbone of a donkey and killed a thousand Philistines. Instead of giving God credit and instead of focusing on the people of Israel, Samson took credit for the victory and wrapped up his own personal vendetta against the Philistines. In verse 16, Samson says, "With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men." Samson's favorite word at this point in his life is "I." But I can't help but remember what Judges 14:4 says: "His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines, for a that time they were ruling over Israel." God chose Samson from the very beginning. And even though it seemed as though Samson was in control, God was ultimately in control. God continued to use Samson, even though he continued to turn aside.
Maybe you find yourself today in a place much like Samson. Maybe you are in a place of your own choosing. Maybe you have turned aside. Maybe you are in a place of selfishness and "have it your way, right away" moments. God is in control. God can use you right where you are, even at your worst! Choose today to give God the reins in your life. Choose today to give God all the credit for the strength and empowerment in your life. Choose today to do God's work for God's purposes and not your own. God's will for the Israelites will be accomplished through Samson, in spite of his flaws and failures. And I believe God's will for your life and my life will be accomplished, as well, in spite of our flaws and failures. God's grace is greater than all our sin. God's purpose is higher than all our purposes. To God be the glory for the great things He has done and the great things He will do!!!