“Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.” (Judges 16:19–20)
And that is how Samson lost his magic hair and his superhuman strength.
Of course his hair wasn’t really magic. Magic is the idea that if you do the right thing, study the right classes at Hogwarts, say the right thing, add just the right amount of toadstool and eye of newt, you can manipulate the gods to do what you want them to do for you. The Philistines thought Samson’s hair was magic. When he told them earlier his weakness was “bow strings” or “new ropes,” that sounded just as reasonable to them.
Silly, huh? But wait…we’re sometimes the same way. “If I do enough good deeds, read my Bible enough, pray enough, read the right authors or go to the right church, then I’ll be #blessed. Like magic.
The funny thing is that Samson thought the same way, just a bit differently. He knew his strength came from God, not his hair. But he assumed that strength was intrinsic to himself – just a part of who he was. So, when he wakes up with shorn locks, he assumes he’ll whip the Philistines like all the times before. And sometimes we’re the same way: “I went down front, prayed ‘the prayer,’ was baptized, so I can live like I want and I’ll be #blessed because I’m God’s child.” Like magic.
That’s why verse 20 is such an important reminder for us: God’s power comes from relationship with him…not what we DO and not even who we ARE, but who we KNOW and stay close to. It isn’t magic. It’s relationship.
And that’s the saddest part of Samson’s life. The Spirit left him and he didn’t even know…until it was too late.
Join us Sunday and we’ll finish this discussion of Samson. He has a lot to teach us about ourselves and the Lord.