This semester in seminary has been taxing. A lot of effort has been put in to keep my head above water with all the reading, projects, and tests. Not to mention I also preach, teach, and serve at my church and another local church regularly. So, I’ve been busier than I would like, but it’s a good experience from which to learn!
For my Hebrew Exegesis class, the whole class has been assigned the task of writing an exegetical commentary on the book of Judges. A massive task to say the least but with us all working on different parts of the book it has become a less daunting task. A part of the project for Judges has been for each student to write a devotional that may or may not be chosen to be included in a devotional book just in time for Christmas. This devotional book centers on a singular theme: Our need for a King. That is what the book of Judges is mostly about. Over and over again the author writes, “In those days there was no king in Israel”, which is often paired with “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Certainly, Israel needed a king to bring about order and proper worship of the LORD.
The section in Judges that my group was assigned is the Samson narrative. My specific section in the Samson saga is the death of Samson. So, I wrote a devotion focusing on a single verse from this section that will be included in the final devotional copy centering on our need for a King.
“Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.””
Judges 16:28, ESV
Despite Samson’s erroneous lifestyle and sinfulness, he is included in the “Hall of Faith” by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 11. What Samson lacked in virtue, God made up for in grace.
At the end of the Samson narrative you can clearly see God’s grace given to Samson. That’s right, despite Samson’s disobedience to God’s law and his parent’s upbringing, despite him breaking his Nazirite vow and defiling himself, despite his disregard to God’s warnings, and despite the Philistines defeating him and disgracing him, God showed Samson grace.
Samson was supposed to be a leader of Israel that caused the covenant people to remember their God. Yet, the story of Samson is strongly seasoned with Samson’s utter disregard for God and Israel. Samson only remembered Samson. Then, at the end of his life he finally learned his lesson. He remembered God. Samson called out to God in earnest prayer, “O LORD God, please remember me…” What right did Samson have to request such a thing of God? All his life he failed to remember his God and now he wants God to remember him?
Yet, in comes God’s grace and he remembered Samson. When Scripture speaks of God remembering someone it never means that God has forgotten him or her. It usually means that God is going to fulfill a previous promise or covenant made to someone according to his perfect will. When God remembered Samson, he blessed Samson and kept him; the LORD made his face to shine upon Samson and was gracious to him; the LORD lifted up his countenance upon Samson and gave him peace (Numbers 6:24–26).
Samson needed the Lord to remember him. The Lord remembered Samson despite Samson’s sin. Because the Lord remembered Samson the Lord’s purpose was fulfilled and Samson could do the Lord’s work in the final act of his life.
Israel needed a King who could remember God and who could remember them. Samson failed miserably at that task. The book of Judges reveals just how badly Israel needed a King who remembered God and God’s people. The Church today needs a Shepherd King who remembers His sheep and keeps them from wandering off. We need a leader better than Samson. One who would sacrifice Himself for our good. One whom His Father would temporarily forsake for our sake. One who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. We need this King, Jesus Christ, who remembers us.