Judges 16:23–31 (ESV)

23 Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to rejoice, and they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.”

The victory that the Lord brought through Samson was partial. Samson’s mission was a failure, to the point that he killed more in death than in life. And yet it was still a victory, from a man whose life story ended in a grave, unable to deliver his people from the true enemy, sin. We needed someone to come as the new Samson, and to take the same path—set apart to the Lord, holy from birth, well aware of the enemy of sin, and able to live a faithful life. The Lord Jesus came and was all those things perfectly. But he too was mocked, insulted, and taunted. His enemies used him for their own entertainment. They blindfolded him, taking away his sight for a time, they struck him, humiliated him. And they did more of the same after stringing him up on a cross, stretching him out against his will, making him suffer a horrific death. But why? Was this the consequence of his sins? The Jews thought so. He’s a blasphemer! He’s so arrogant! And they thought the victory was theirs. This ravager of our nation is getting his just desserts! But Christ did not die for his own sins. He always lived for his Father’s glory. He was mocked as a result of our disobedience toward him, our failure to live up to our calling. But that was the moment, at his deepest humiliation, where Christ accomplished the greatest victory of all! On his shoulders he bore the incredible weight of our sinfulness. He disarmed the lords and authorities and every false god and put them to open shame, he flattened the enemy Satan and all his minions, he removed the sting of death and the condemnation that hung over us. Samson had merely brought permanent alienation between Israel and the Philistines, as necessary as that was. But God’s true deliverer was cosmically triumphant in death. He actively put to death many more when he died than while he lived. He achieved deliverance once for all (Hebrews 10:10). He took away the penalty for our idolatry, which is death. And he took away the power of sin in our lives. Every paradox in the Christian life makes perfect sense only when you know Jesus Christ, the one who purposely, intentionally, became weak to become strong!

And that is not even the end of his story. Because his death was no victorious defeat. He defeated death itself through the power of the Holy Spirit! He arose from the rubble of death! To achieve total and permanent victory for himself and all who are his! Christ, through his resurrection, completed our deliverance from the guilt and power of sin, and guaranteed the future of the church, all of this for the honour of the true God! And so deliverance and salvation are unquestionably for all who place their faith in Christ! Because the one who became weak to save now rules in strength and power eternally.

Being in Christ is following the pattern of Christ—becoming weak to become strong. Only those who admit, I am unrighteous receive the righteousness of Christ. Only those who confess their own weakness are able to know God-given inner strength, received by faith, the strength that then enables you to avoid the pitfalls of Samson’s life: pride, lust, anger, vengefulness, complacency. Christ has opened the way for the Spirit to live in you.