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I raised you up . . . that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed.
George Foreman won his first heavyweight title in 1971 and was a dominant boxer for years. But after losing a fight in 1977, he had what he described as a near-death experience. Foreman decided to follow Jesus and became an ordained minister in Houston. Ten years later, he began boxing again, knocking out Michael Moorer to regain his heavyweight title. But as Foreman was quick to say, “Preaching is my calling. Boxing for me is only moonlighting in the same way Paul made tents.”
Samson also recognized his calling from God. His parents had told him the story of the visit of the angel of the Lord, and he grew up in the shadow of his prophetic words: “He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (13:5). Samson knew that he was a Nazirite and was supposed to abstain from wine (and other grape products), from cutting his hair, and from contact with a dead body.
But as we have already seen, despite knowing his consecrated identity, Samson had flippantly dismissed the constraints of Nazirite living. He has flagrantly flouted the rules—except, of course, that he had not cut his hair.
It’s important to note that Samson didn’t suddenly lose favor with God because he has virtually put a pair of scissors into the hand of his Philistine girlfriend, Delilah (v. 20). Even before his haircut, Samson was a compromised Nazirite. His shorn head is simply the most visible measure of his failure.
And this reminds us that God wasn’t using Samson because of his exemplary piety. God was using him because He had chosen him and called him. That call, announced to Manoah’s wife before she had even conceived, was evidence of God’s grace. Samson had done nothing to deserve it.
Apply the Word
Some feel led to serve as missionaries or pastors. Others serve the Lord through work as bus drivers, accountants, or community volunteers. We’re not all called to the same vocation, but all children of God are called “to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace . . . given us in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:9).