We’ve been doing a series on Judges at church lately. It has been quite a challenge at times, but it really did threaten to hit the buffers last Sunday when we got to our final instalment. The subject was Samson, and the service was our monthly all-age family service where there’s no Sunday school, the children remain in the meeting throughout and the idea is to organise things in a way that engages them from start to finish.
You only have to say the name ‘Samson’ to me and I’m likely to start humming (or if you’re really unlucky, singing): “My, my, my-y-y-y Delilah (dadoodledoodledoodledoodledooo) … Why? Why? Why? Delilah? (etc)”. You can’t beat a bit of Tom Jones. He also reminds me of a big plastic suitcase my dad used to own … made of Samsonite, allegedly the toughest substance known to man, or so the slogan went. What I didn’t know, until my poor unfortunate wife began trying to plan the service, was that the logo on Lyle’s Golden Syrup is also inspired by this Old Testament character. The image depicts a dead lion, surrounded by bees who made their hive in its carcass (mmm, I bet you really want a spoonful of syrup now). The slogan is ‘Out of the strong came forth sweetness’, which is the riddle Samson shared with a group of sozzled Philistines shortly after he discovered the bees had taken up residence in the lion he had killed.
Samson, his strength and his troublesome wife are the stuff of legend and have entered into folklore. But when you actually pick up the Bible and look at the details, he is a difficult character to draw a sermon from – especially one appropriate for children. The story is replete with violence (against lions and large numbers of Philistines), bouts of bizarre behaviour (possibly outright insanity) and frequent visits to prostitutes. Yet God makes clear even before he is born that Samson will be special, and he gets his honourable mention among the people of faith in Hebrews 11.
Even so, Jenny pulled together a very neat, simple and clear message for that Sunday morning (as she always does). While sparing the children some of the finer details of Samson’s life, we took a good look at a man who made mistakes, broke his promises, had a bad temper, but whom God still wanted to use and to work through to rescue his people.
If God can use Samson, and not just use him but also regard him as specially reserved for service to God, then he can certainly use you and me.