As often in Scripture, Samson’s divine destiny is underscored by the fact that he was an unlikely candidate–he was born to a sterile mother of a subject people, after an angelic visitation and promise.
He is “special” from his youth. “He grew, and the Lord blessed him, and the spirit of the Lord began to stir him.”
The Spirit descends on him unpredictably, enabling him to destroy the lion, for example.
People who are sometimes spirit-empowered can have significant weaknesses: Girls, gold or glory in Bill Hybels’ phrase. Samson’s is girls. He cannot resist the pleading of his Philistine fiancée, and tells her the riddle of the lion and honey to his own monetary cost.
God is still good to him, almost “covers for him,” and when he finds himself obligated to give the Philistines 30 sets of garments, he’s enabled to swiftly slay 30 other Philistines, and take their garments.
Samson is a “tragic hero,” to whom bad things happen because of a mixture of his own lack of judgement, and other people’s treachery. However, God does not desert this tragic hero, and when he is handed over to the Philistines, the Spirit of the Lord comes on him, helping him to accomplish feats of superhuman strength, such as killing a thousand Philistines with a donkey’s jawbone!
Despite his weaknesses–his anger, his hot-headedness, his weakness for women–God continues to show him favour, as when he opens up a spring in the desert to satisfy the thirsty Samson.
His attraction to women repeatedly overcomes his better judgment. Sadly, he is still not capable of learning from his mistakes. He falls in love with another Philistine woman, Delilah, and continues trusting her, despite repeated proofs of her treachery toward him. He cannot resist female cajoling!!
The Spirit of the Lord stays with him through many errors of judgement, and hot-headedness. Finally, when he risks the symbol of his consecration to God—his long hair—which Delilah shears, we are told “the Lord left him.”
However, the Lord does not entirely abandon his flawed servant. His hair grows again. His heart turns towards God. And in response to his prayer, “O Sovereign Lord, remember me. Oh God, please strengthen me just once more,” he is given superhuman, supernatural strength once again, and pulls down the pillars of the temple, killing three thousand Philistines—and himself.
Samson’s story explains the phenomenon of the flawed man of God who is still a brilliant writer, preacher, administrator, or leader, while lustful, greedy or obsessed with fame or power.
And for them, for Samson, for us when we mess up, there is this consolation: God loves us. His spirit does not rapidly depart from us even when we prove ourselves unworthy of him. And when it does, we can still implore him to return, with our repentance and renewed surrender. And then, he mercifully shows us his face once again, and fills us again!