Prayer for the day
Give me the joy of your saving help again and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
Scripture for the day
We run today into a great mystery. Jesus, on one hand, says that we are to be merciful, like our Father is merciful. Samson, on the other hand, does not show mercy. Ever.
Samson’s deeds are heinous by our standards today. But regardless of the time period, it’s clear that what he was doing wasn’t really all that merciful or loving. He certainly wasn’t praying for his enemies (or if he was, he was praying for their destruction).
Jesus, in contrast, presents his teaching as the true way to peace. He says that his followers, if they want to see the kingdom, must be people of peace, seeking the best even for those who would wish them harm. Jesus called his followers to be people who would not only be good to those who hated them, but unexpectedly and extravagantly good. This is not a grudging goodness or kindness but one that is borne from a heart overflowing with the love and goodness of God. How does this overflow square with the story of Samson, the violent?
Samson’s actions are brutal, violent, and seem to flow not out of kindness but pettiness, anger, and revenge. Samson’s actions are certainly not what we would call “Christ-like” actions, yet even in the midst of his fury and his violence, God’s desire with regard to the Philistines is accomplished.
This is a mysterious way of God. He may or may not like the way Samson treats the Philistines, but the scriptures say he used Samson in order to punish the Philistines for their actions.
What this means is not that God is the author of all woe, or that God desires death and destruction to run rampant, but that IF people are to be punished for their action, it is God who will do the punishing, using whatever methods God deems fit.
Our job is not to enact God’s vengeance, nor to use this as proof that we’re supposed to, but to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute, believing God will deal with the wicked and the righteous alike.