April Fool’s Day is my very least favorite holiday.
There is certainly a place for silliness and giggly tricks. We have friends who do silly things like draw mustaches on family pictures with those erasable markers you use on a whiteboard. One year we went to the library to learn how to make fake vegetables with frosting. I’m not so boring that I don’t see the fun in a little lightheartedness.
However, tricks and cleverness can go wrong pretty quickly, and maybe I got burnt one time when I was a little kid from something someone else found funny.
What kind of cleverness and silliness do you find funny?
How do you know when cleverness and silliness has gone too far?
Samson, our Judge of the week, was clever. He liked tricks and riddles. Samson’s story is one where we can see that cleverness is both a good thing and something that can go awry pretty quickly when we forget that the Lord is the Lord of our brains as well as our hearts and lives.
Samson’s life started off devoted to God. His mom and dad even had an Angel of the Lord visit them to tell them they would have a baby even though they hadn’t been able to have a baby before and that baby would be special, or set apart for God’s work in a very special way.
Samson grew up and he was gifted with supernatural strength by God. His strength was soooooo mighty that he:
Killed a lion with his bare hands (Lions are particularly fierce.)
Collected 300 jackals (which kind of look like foxes) and lit their tails on fire like torches to burn the enemy’s crops (Yikes!)
Took on 1000 enemy men, killing them with the jawbone of a donkey (What a weird weapon.)
In all the many stories about Samson in the Book of Judges in the Bible, you’ll find many riddles regarding these and other feats. Sometimes the riddles are good — a play on words against the enemy — but other times you get the sense that Samson knows he’s clever and isn’t really seeking God in order to use his cleverness for good.
That’s the difference:
Is our cleverness for good or to make ourselves look good?
Samson’s cleverness would eventually get him into trouble when he meets Delilah. There are a thousand storybooks which tell the story of Samson and Delilah. They are almost as famous as David and Bathsheba!
More importantly, though, God teaches Samson to return to Him and ask for forgiveness in his weakness rather than in his strength.
Samson’s strength is cool and God did cool things with it to begin overtaking the Philistines who led people to worship false gods rather than the One True God.
Samson’s brain is cool, your brain is cool, and God made our brains to do cool things and think clever thoughts, but if it’s hurting people rather than helping people, we can turn to God and ask for forgiveness.
Confessing our sins sounds weak, but really it’s one of the strongest things we’ll ever do.
Samson turned to God, confessed his sins and God gave him strength to overcome the enemy by sacrificing his own life. He pushed down the pillars of a false temple and, in this way, Samson, the final judge we’ll hear from in the Book of Judges (although not quite the final judge over Israel), points us to the final judge of our study - Jesus.
Jesus sacrificed for us. He died on the cross and it’s the single strongest thing a person has ever done. Stronger than Samson. God uses Jesus in us to help us to sacrifice and show people His mighty love - whether that’s the sacrifice of our asking for forgiveness, our helping someone when we have other things to do, or our sharing something or sharing friendship.
Strength in sacrifice - now, that’s clever of God, don’t you think?
Art by Adam Boggs at AKB Comics - find more of Adam’s work here.