“You have granted this great victory by the hand of your servant”
Even the mightiest of men, Samson, knew that his tremendous physical power was rooted in God. Samson, a man of huge proportions and stronger than many “ordinary” men, recognized that even he had limited power. In the wake of his victory at Ramath-Lehi, wherein he defeated 1000 Philistine soldiers with the jawbone of an ass, he realized that it was the power of God, through the onrush of the Holy Spirit, that carried him through the bloody mayhem to victory.
Using the jawbone of a lowly wild ass, or onager, Samson laid low the powerful army of Philistia who had conquered the eastern Mediterranean and almost Egypt itself. This was the nation who introduced the powerful iron weaponry into the region and flourished on military organization. The Philistines, who dominated the region of Israel and Canaan, were no match for the jawbone wielded by the powerful arm of Samson, fueled by the Spirit of the Lord.
Samson was a peasant, most likely a poor shepherd. He was not a man of means or title, like the historical Hercules. He was born into a subject people who were bitterly oppressed. He was a man who flawed, often making questionable decisions and relying on his surpassing power to save him. However, God accepted these flaws, as he does our flaws. God rewarded Samson because of his faith. Underneath the actions, many have which become the subject of moralistic homilies and sermons, there was an elemental and unshakeable faith. At times when even his tremendous power had reached its limits and fatigue was overwhelming him, Samson looked to his faith. Herein was the true source of his power; not his magnificent muscles or uncut shock of hair. His power, by his own words here and at his death, came from God. Because of his faith, Samson is praised in the Letter to the Hebrews (11:32).
One of the many lessons, often overlooked, in the Samson narratives is that the power of God reaches us through our faith. Our faith overcomes our shortfalls and mistakes. God will look past our imperfections and see the purity of our faith. When we are stripped of all comforts, as was Samson at Ramath-Lehi and at his death in the temple of Dagon, when our power and will are flagging, and when physical exhaustion overwhelms us- we have only our faith on which to rest.