One of the fascinating things about the Bible is that it doesn’t whitewash it’s heroes. Take Samson for example. He was an impulsive, self centered, hot tempered, arrogant womanizer who doesn’t come across as all that smart.
Not exactly the kind of person we might expect to have God’s favor. (You can read about Samson in Judges chapters 13-16.)
One time Samson took on an army that was totally focused on killing him. By the time it was over, Samson had killed 1,000 of them – all by himself! Check it out:
As Samson arrived at Lehi, the Philistines came shouting in triumph. But the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson, and he snapped the ropes on his arms as if they were burnt strands of flax, and they fell from his wrists. Then he found the jawbone of a recently killed donkey. He picked it up and killed 1,000 Philistines with it. — Judges 15:14-15
Defeating that many enemies is pretty stinking amazing. I’ve read several Medal of Honor citations detailing some amazing things that have been done in combat in the face of incredible odds. But I don’t know of any case where a soldier single-handedly killed 1,000 enemy troops, even with modern weapons. Samson doing that in his day is amazing. Then factor in that he did it with a bone which is a ridiculously primitive weapon even for his day and it becomes absolutely impossible to accomplish without Divine intervention.
Think about it. Let’s say it took Samson on average 15 seconds to strike a mortal blow on his opponents with that bone, which seems like a fair assumption. I mean some would be, thump, thump, thump (three down) while there would probably be some he’d have to chase down to get. So sticking with that 15 second average then he was in full hand-to-hand combat for over 4 hours!
That’s a long time to be in constant combat. Most modern battles ebb and flow a little so it’s rare that one soldier would be fighting non-stop for an extended period like that. And it’s doubly rare that the modern soldier be by himself fighting like that, mostly because that kind of numbers would be overwhelming and the fight would be over way before the 4 hour mark.
There is no way Samson could have defeated an army, killing 1,000 of them in the process, without some supernatural help. And the Bible clearly says, “the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Samson.”
Here’s the thing. That’s the same Holy Spirit that has come and lives inside of every believer (Eph 4:4-6).
The Holy Spirit empowered Samson for the task at hand and eventually left him. That same Spirit now lives inside each and every believer, never to leave us.
God empowered Samson to do impossible things, things that are still impossible even by today’s standards. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are empowered by that same Spirit and are equipped to do things that are just as impossible too.
Think about it.
The other thing that sticks out in this passage is that God can use whatever tool is available, even if it doesn’t seem like it would be up for the task.
Samson didn’t defeat the first Philistine and take his sword to kill the others. He grabbed something that had been thrown away, a bone, and used that until the job was done.
How often do we try to plan everything to the last detail?
Samson didn’t have a battle plan before he started. When God’s Spirit showed up he just got busy. He is specifically mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11 in the “faith hall of fame” as a result.
It’s a lesson for all of us.