"Then Samson called to the Lord and said, 'O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.'” Judges 16:28
This simple passage of Scripture does not readily reveal the profound impact of repentance and the amazing forgiveness of God, but careful study of the story and the man, Samson, will leave the fervent seeker awestruck, humbled and grateful.
In those days, the people of Israel were in a retched cycle of being blessed by God, turning their backs on Him in favor of other gods, being subjected by force to the whims of other nations, crying out to God for relief and being rescued by Him. On this particular occasion, the people had been under the subjugation of the Philistines for 40 years. God, in His infinite mercy, sent his angel to a woman named Manoah and, among other things, instructed her that she would bear a son and that through him, Israel would begin to be "saved from the hands of the Philistines," Judges 13:5. This was the beginning of the story and purpose of Samson.
Now the rest of his story is well known. He was born a Nazirite (one who is particularly dedicated to God, typically by vow and the observance of certain habits and restrictions), grew in supernatural strength, became a judge of the people and famously fought and defeated the Philistines on numerous occasions. It is also well known that Samson was a very flawed man. He had habits and desires that were not in keeping with his calling. He frequently made mistakes in judgment and failed to comport himself at some critical times and was known to visit prostitutes. He is perhaps best known for his involvement with the treacherous Philistine woman, Delilah. It is to her that, despite proving herself unworthy of his trust on at least three occasions that might have resulted in his death, he reveals the secret of his strength resulting in the breaking of his Nazarite vow and the loss of his power.
Beloved, it is easy for us to sit in judgment of Samson. We ask ourselves how he could have been so stupid, thereby inferring that we could never be guilty of such transgression and lack of good decision making. But is that strictly true? Has not God created each of us for His own glory? Has he not instructed us in His ways and given us a mission to do battle with the enemy? Have we not been distracted by the perceived benefits of that same enemy and actually done business with him? In some ways, times and situations, we are all Samson.
That said, we serve the same God as Samson. When he had come to fully understand the error of his ways, he remembered his purpose, he remembered his God given ability and he remembered his God. Through His amazing love and forgiveness, God came to the aid of Samson, even as He had to the people of Israel through Samson, and strengthened him for his original intended purpose. God never forsakes us. It is we who leave Him. But just as the father of the prodigal son, He constantly awaits our return and receives us when we come. All praises to Him for being a God of second (and third and fourth and fifth...) chances.