by Frans Bakker
I will go out as at other times before. —Judges 16:20b
No, Samson, this time it will not work out for you. You will not be able to free yourself from the bonds of the Philistines. You may have received a special gift of the Spirit of God, but not to play with in a life of sin. When you live this way, God’s Spirit must leave you, and you will not be able to use this gift at all. Then being a judge and a child of God will not help you, for you cannot place your trust in God and His strength while you hold on to sin. The Lord did not give you this strength in order to rescue yourself when it becomes rather dangerous in the house of sin into which you yourself have entered. You did not sin cheaply, for now it is going to cost you your eyes. Many times you have experienced God’s one-sided saving work, when by God’s strength you broke the bonds. You love to exalt this one-sided work of God, and now you would have done that again, if you had been able to deliver yourself from these bonds. But now you find out that the experience of grace is two-sided. It is not only God’s redeeming power, but also man’s responsibility. You, Samson, have neglected to pray: “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity” (Ps. 119:37).
What a lesson this is for Samson! Though his name means “child of sunshine,” he loses sight of the light of the sun. He is so strong that he is not even afraid of a thousand Philistines, yet he becomes so weak that he loses all his strength through one Philistine. A child of God can have many weak points in his life. Even one weakness, one sin, or even guilt because of transgressing one commandment would be enough reason for eternal damnation.
If the Lord would deal with us as He dealt with Samson, many of us would need to lose our eyes, and if not our eyes, then perhaps an evil tongue or ears that love to listen to slander. Whose heart is free of sin? We may speak of conversion, but do we know from what we need to be converted? It may be initial conversion or it may be the much-needed daily conversion that we never outgrow after receiving grace. We see Delilah lying in wait behind all of God’s commandments. But we do not recognize our weak areas with as much clarity. It may be we do not want to know our weaknesses.
A child of God must be careful not to lean presumptuously on God’s strength. God’s child must repeatedly ask himself what is between God and his soul. God will not allow even His most beloved child to lean on Him and at the same time continue on in sin. Samson experienced this in a painful way. In essence the Lord works the same today as well. We can never experience God’s sovereign good pleasure if we cherish sin.
Even when there is prayer, the Lord will cast off him who loves his sin. The most precious gifts of prayer given in the past will not help in the present. What danger there is in making a possession of what God has done in the soul in the past! Such an action gives false rest when the prayer for preserving grace does not carry into the present.
“I will go out as at other times before.” Also this time? No, Samson, God does not work that way. May that be for our instruction. Samson felt the pain in his eyes not so much because the Philistines inflicted it, but much more because of what God did. Samson learned his lesson from God and that brought him back to God again. Are you also in that school? True spiritual life repeatedly turns back to God. Those who let go of sin will not lean upon the Lord in vain. At the end of his life, Samson was heard when he prayed “only this once.” He entered his death as one without honor, but there was peace between God and him. Is this not the reality that all God’s people must die to themselves without honor?
From The Everlasting Word by Frans Bakker, compiled and translated by Gerald R. Procee. Reformation Heritage Books and Free Reformed Publications, 2007. Used by permission. For further information, click here.