“Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:5-9.
For many Christians, Samson stands as one of the saddest figures in the biblical record, a man who started out with such great potential only to squander it all due to his lack of self-control. In fact, Samson’s story is often presented as a cautionary tale.
I struggled to find a way to describe Samson in one word. Impulsive? Rash? Untamed? Hasty? Probably all of those are good, but none of them I feel truly capture the essence of Samson. He is a man who goes after and does what he wants, as soon as he wants it, and doesn’t listen to anyone about it. He assumes he can handle whatever comes his way.
He sees a pretty girl, so he decides he needs to marry her, even though his parents don’t really want him to. He likes what he sees, and he wants it. He doesn’t see a problem. He meets a lion and he kills it. No problem. He’s at a party with alcohol. He shouldn’t be there and he makes it worse by concocting a riddle to demonstrate he is smarter than everyone else. He makes a bet and loses the bet and kills 30 people to pay what he owes. He handled that. They give his wife to a companion. This means Samson lights 300 foxes on fire and burns their corn down. Nicely handled.
Quite simply, Samson was too powerful and too overly confident for his own good. His ability was outrunning his self control, and his pride was getting the best of him.
It is so obvious where this is leading, you wonder how Samson did not see it as well. Samson takes a nap with a lady from a nation that hates his God, after telling her his only weakness. She naturally betrays him to the bad guys, as most people would assume she would do.
If the only way I could be defeated was to have my head shaved, it would seem to me that not letting that secret be known to the enemy would be smart, as well as prudent. But Samson put himself in a situation where his secret was always in jeopardy, and Delilah finally convinced him to tell her.
Samson probably thought he could handle it. If he did not believe he could handle it, why would he be with Delilah in the first place. There are many other things he could have been doing. In fact, anything he could have done at that moment was a better idea. But, he’s Samson. He’s big, powerful and can handle anything. He was dead wrong.
This can happen to any of us who believe that we can handle anything that comes our way. When we believe we can handle dangerous situations, we put ourselves in harm’s way. We need to pause and consider where our actions are leading us.
- How much of life do you believe you can handle on your own? How much of our thinking that we can handle anything is pride?
- Is there such a thing as “good” pride?
- Describe a time in your life when your “bad” pride got the best of you? How do you perceive that experience today (with humor, sadness, gratefulness, shame, etc.)? What did you learn from that event?
- In what area of life are you most likely to fall prey to “bad” pride, which gives you an inflated view of yourself? Why do you think this aspect of your life is more vulnerable to bad pride?