In the age of computers, brute force is a commodity who’s general value is in decline. We live in an age in which celebrity comes from a skill with smart and sassy one-liners, not from wielding a basic weapon to devastating effect.
Samson lived in a very different age to our own. With his violent temper, his rudely blunt way of talking, his weakness for prostitutes, and his love of killing, he doesn’t fit comfortably into our idea of a man (or woman) of God.
The story of Samson covers four chapters of our Bible. It follows him from his miraculous conception to his murderous death. His career of destruction spanned at least three disastrous relationships with women he fancied but never managed to love, and brought a violent end to thousands of human lives. Samson was rude. He was arrogant. He was stupid. And yet he was God’s chosen agent in that place and at that time.
Faith communities the world over tend to have very particular ideas about the kind of man or woman who makes a godly leader. There is a certain level of intelligence expected, a certain morality demanded, a certain social skilfulness required. We like our faith leaders to be clean-cut, polite, and pastorally sensitive. Samson was none of these things, and yet he was God’s chosen agent in that place and at that time.
God is the creator of the entire universe. He is the loving heavenly father of the entire human race. God does not travel along the same narrow pathways that we chose to tread, often consciously following where other generations have gone before us - mistakes included.
The brutal story of Samson is a reminder that God does not always pick the good people or the nice people. Samson’s talent was brute force. He excelled at it. And in that place and at that time it was precisely the skill-set that God required.
This is not an encouragement to grab the nearest fresh jawbone of an ass and slaughter as many people as you can. It is an encouragement to look again at the people who you don’t like, or don’t trust. God loves those people dearly, and in a certain place and a certain time, they may be just what he needs in this world.