Samson: Deliverer, Grinder, or Entertainer by Tony Cooke

Samson: Deliverer, Grinder, or Entertainer
Tony Cooke

Samson DelivererThroughout history, God raised up various deliverers to get His people Israel out of bondage and other difficult situations. These deliverers experienced various levels of success, but the effect of their efforts was always limited and temporal. Many times a deliverer would be used by God to get Israel out of difficulty, and shortly the people would forget God and get into trouble again. God would then raise up yet another deliverer. Of course, Jesus came as the Ultimate Deliverer who came to save not only the nation of Israel, but all of humanity from the penalty and power of sin.

One of the deliverers that God raised up was Samson. Before he was born, the Angel of the Lord told Samson’s mother, “he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5). The Bible tells us that as Samson grew, “…the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him…” (Judges 13:24-25).

Most Christians recall the great exploits of supernatural strength and the great victories that Samson wrought when the Spirit of God came upon him, and most remember the fact that he lost his focus and failed to guard the anointing of God that was upon his life (with some help from Delilah).

After Samson’s head was shaved (indicating the violation of his vow and consecration to God), Delilah said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him” (Judges 16:20).

Operating now in his own strength without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, Samson was overcome and taken captive. The very next verse reads: “Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison” (Judges 16:21).

From Deliverer to Grinder
There are two amazing things that happened here.

    1. First, the Philistines gouged out the eyes of Samson. Would it be accurate to say today that when the enemy begins to overcome a leader, the first thing he wants to do is to take away the vision of that leader? 
    2. Second, having lost his vision, Samson became a grinder. Here was a man born with destiny to deliver a nation, and now he is doing the lowest, most degrading and hardest type of work in the prison; grinding corn.

Samson had not been born to be a grinder; he was born to be a deliverer! What led to his downfall? A study of Samson’s life reveals that he was inclined toward compromise, self-indulgence, and self-destructive behavior. In a sense, Samson was his own worst enemy.

Serving God was never meant to be a “grind” for us! How often have we taken comfort and strength in what Jesus said? “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Though often taxing, how did the Apostle Paul keep ministry from grinding him down? “For this I labor [unto weariness], striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me” (Colossians 1:29, AMP).

Whether we preach or serve behind the scenes, ministry was meant to be a joy and a great privilege, not a grind!

From Grinder to Entertainer
What happens next is incredible. The Philistines began to rejoice in their god and celebrate the downfall of the man who had inflicted so much damage on their ranks when he was functioning as the deliverer God intended for him to be. Speaking of the Philistines, Judges 16:25 says, “Everyone was feeling high and someone said, ‘Get Samson! Let him show us his stuff!’ They got Samson from the prison and he put on a show for them” (Message Version).

The man that God had gloriously anointed to deliver Israel had gone from his high calling to being humiliated in chains as a prisoner-slave, and now he is being mocked as a cheap entertainer. How the mighty can fall!

But Something Happened…
While Samson was on his downward spiral, something happened that no one expected. Right after he became a grinder, Judges 16:22 says, “However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven.” Even though Samson had become disqualified (see 1 Corinthians 9:27), it seems that there was a time here when Samson began to be re-qualified. Perhaps in the pain of his bondage he cried out to God, repented, and re-positioned himself to once again become a deliverer. In the midst of his truly tragic situation, God still found a way to bring triumph!

Judges 16:27-30 (NLT)
27 Now the temple was completely filled with people. All the Philistine rulers were there, and there were about 3,000 men and women on the roof who were watching as Samson amused them. 28 Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.”  29 Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands,  30 he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.

We have to read this story in its historical context. Samson lived in violent times, and he’s certainly no example of New Testament mercy or forgiveness. But there are vital principles here that we need to embrace. As Paul said of other Old Testament stories, “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them” (1 Corinthians 10:6-7).

The Outstanding News
It is so wonderful that God has allowed us to partner with the Lord Jesus Christ in His on-going work in the earth. We are the Body of Christ and He is reaching, loving, and serving humanity through us. While He is certainly THE Deliverer, we have the privilege of participating with Him as He continues to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).

If ministry has become a grind to you, or worse, if you feel like you’re just entertaining people, this is a great opportunity to “let your hair grow again” and reclaim your sense of destiny and purpose in the earth. Together with the Lord Jesus Christ and through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, you were born to embody and proclaim the liberating, delivering gospel. You were born to be a deliverer, not a grinder, or an entertainer.

* While in Singapore, I taught four sessions each day, and spent two sessions listening to the students preach, evaluating them, and giving them feedback. One of the young men who preached is named Nehemiah David. He is from India, and some thoughts in his message really stirred my heart. I’m borrowing some ideas from his message, and I want to give him proper credit.