Read Judges 14-16
It is all too common in the sports world to hear of an athlete with great potential, yet his career fails to live up to the hype. I remember one such pitcher drafted by the New York Yankees, whose career was derailed by a physical altercation. There was also a highly touted outfielder for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays who got mixed up in drugs, and while he was able to table those temptations for a time and play well at the big-league level, eventually succumbed again. Neither of these individuals truly lived up to their potential largely because of unwise decisions.
Similarly, Samson had what seemed like unlimited potential. Inspiration says that Samson “grew, and the Lord blessed him” (Judges 13:24). We are told of Samson’s impressive strength. We are told of his confrontation with a young lion, “and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand” (Judges 14:6). He then foolishly challenged the Philistines with a riddle, which was explained to them by his wife. Since they learned the explanation, he owed them “thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing” (Judges 14:12). To pay, “he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle” (Judges 14:19).
Time after time, Samson shows great physical strength but great emotional weakness. He lacked self-control. He gave into carnal lust. He abused the blessings God had given him. Yet, he is listed among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11:32.
It was in Samson’s final hour that we see his faith. The Philistines, the great enemies of the people of God, had deceived Samson into telling the secret of his strength. They cut his hair, bound him, and used him as a grinder in the prison. They rejoiced and gave praise to their god Dagon for delivering the strong man into their hands.
Samson called out to the Lord one last time for deliverance. Despite all the foolishness and wasted potential of his life, at the end he was counted faithful. May we resolve not to wait until the end of our lives to do what is right. Fulfill your potential in Christ!