The Samson Syndrome: Neglecting Our Calling

by Martin Peter Mburu

Call all the superheroes — Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Captain America, Hulk, Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Black Panther and the others — and tell them to suit up and pick up their toys. Add the legends from Africa. Get Samson and give him a donkey’s jawbone. Lock all of them in an arena and announce, “Let the games begin.”

Samson accomplished many feats that many of the fictional characters can only dream of. He was a man on a mission. He had a purpose and calling. The calling was very clear right from conception, just like Jeremiah’s, John the Baptist’s and many others. The angel of the Lord spoke to Samson’s mother, “You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5).

Still there are those who discover it later in life. God is not limited by time. Paul and the twelve apostles discovered their callings late in life. Jacob moved to Egypt in old age. Caleb got his land at 85, Moses liberated the Israelites at 80 and, of course, the father of faith bore the son at 100. It is never late with God. That is all about God’s sovereignty and fulfilling the promise that, “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28, NIV).

Each one of us has been blessed with a purpose and a calling. We may not always accomplish camera-friendly feats like Samson, have songs composed in our honour like King David, or get queens to pay homage to us like King Solomon, but that does not mean our calling is any less significant in the eyes of the Lord who bestows the calling. Each one of us has been given a calling and requisite gifts and talents. A lot of focus and emphasis is laid on discovering purpose and calling at the expense of stewarding the calling once discovered. Neglecting an already known calling and misusing the gifts and talents is tragic.

The story of Samson is tragic not because he died blind and away from home, but because it is layered with many other deaths. Eventually, all human beings die, but we can avoid early death by not missing out or neglecting our calling. We can glean some lessons so that we may live purpose-driven lives and fulfil our callings so that at the end we can hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23).

Disconnect with the Source and Lack of Divine Inquiry

 “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man,” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Callings, gifts, talents, life, salvation come from God without special input from us. In other words, God chooses each. Staying connected will make everything clear – Identifying the calling, stewarding the calling and living a victorious Christian life — But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, (Matthew 6:33). This is challenge and solution; all the things are details to elaborate the above.

Everything about this life is about God. It is only wise to stay connected to Him. Some specifics of a calling are revealed on a day-to-day basis as the Lord builds our faith.

Samson’s parents knew about their son’s calling and their calling. Their calling was to raise Samson to accomplish his special one of liberating Israel. His father was humble enough to inquire from God. In Genesis 4:1, Eve said, “with the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” That ought to be the prayer for all parents: with the help of God I am raising a man. Samson failed to imitate his father. Parents ought to learn from Manaoh – It is not just about raising a child but affecting the destinies of nations and generation. Many theories on how to raise children from education, culture and religion abound; however, the truth lies only with the Lord: the source.

In the pagan culture Manoah and his wife were living in, they could only succeed with the Nazarite vow by staying connected. That vow was God given. It is always good to make a distinction between man-made rules and God-given rules. Man-made are enslaving while God given are liberating. God-given rules can seem oppressive; they serve a specific purpose. In this case, we can argue the vow was meant to train Samson in the area of self-control. For a guy who could possess that much unbridled strength, he needed self-control. Note, Samson was not easily recognizable as a muscle man or gym rat. They are visible because of their inflated chests and biceps that look like they are stuffed with potatoes, then all that mass is perfectly stuffed and displayed in undersized garments. They walk like they have pins in his armpits. The lengths the Philistines were willing to go to tell you Samson attests to this. The difference was the Spirit of the Lord coming powerfully on him (Judges 14:19 & 15:14).

He reigned in Israel for twenty years. He was involved in numerous battles and confrontations, but we only see him praying twice. Once when he was thirsty (Judges 15:18). It is a prayer that sounds more like a complaint than a prayer or a prayer laced with heavy entitlement. This is in contrast with his last prayer in Judges 16:28, when he asked for strength. We will revisit prayer at the end. The point is, Samson’s relationship with God is unhealthy. If the term “narcissist” had been invented, Samson would have epitomised that. The lesson and contrast is from the life of King David, who constantly inquired from God.

While some wake up to hunt the proverbial calling, others are blessed with knowing it right from birth. Lack of divine inquiry causes us to start conforming or interpreting the call with human knowledge and wisdom. A calling is God-given; therefore, we have to keep on inquiring from him.

Lack of humility

Humility is a product of our choices. We are implored to be humble so that God can uplift us (Proverbs 22:4, Proverbs 11:2, Colossians 3:12, Ephesians 4:2, James 4: 6&10, 1 Peter 5:5&6, & Luke 14:11). Humility will remind us of our mortality and need for God, thus seeking him constantly. Our need to stay connected, and the knowledge that we need always to inquire of the Lord, starts with humility. We do not see Samson giving thanks for the wins and rescues. Yet we see him compose limericks, songs and riddles. Even Samson’s first prayer (Judges 15:18) lacks humility.

Other examples of Samson’s lack of humility include showing off and using God’s gifts for selfish reasons and gains. When he asked the Philistines to solve the riddle, it was all for selfish reasons. All of us are required to be humble, but leaders and highly-gifted individuals are required to be extra-humble to avoid using their positions of influence to make unreasonable demands. For instance, King Nebuchadnezzar asking to be told the dream and its interpretation (Daniel 2:6) and King Saul asking for David to bring a hundred foreskins (1 Samuel 18:25). Perhaps this explains why mighty men are brought down by very small things. Samson thought he was playing mind games with Delilah, but he was the one getting played. Our gifts should be used to draw people to Jesus and not ourselves.

No matter the position of influence, we should remember to honour your parents. We should be careful not to mislead them or make them compromise. By giving his parents honey, Samson was dishonouring them.

No matter the type of calling and level of gifting, we are to live a life of faith. At the end of the day, we are mere human beings; fallible – dust, as David says. One minute we could be here celebrating the fall of Satan, the next we are fellowshipping with him or his agents. We must always remember our place in God’s plans to avoid behaving like we are so indispensable or like we can hold God at a ransom. 

God’s purposes prevail, they will be achieved with all without us. It is an honour to be part of God’s purpose. That calls for humility on our part. Job acknowledged: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2 NIV).

Lack of wisdom, discernment, and self-control

We acknowledge that the main problem is a lack of connectedness with the source: God. Without that, everything else is downhill. Wisdom and discernment are gifts of the Holy Spirit, and elf-control is a fruit of the Spirit.

The many benefits of wisdom include the fear of the Lord. In James 1:5, we are encouraged to pray for wisdom, and in James 3:13-18, we are taught the difference godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. Wisdom would have helped Samson in his daily life and control of his gift.

On the other hand, discernment and self-control would have helped him to curb his big appetite for everything. The Bible teaches, a person without self-control is like a city without gates. (Proverbs 25:28.)  Samson’s lack of self-control and discernment can explain his many indiscretions; lack of wisdom can explain his failure to learn from them.


Samson broke at a whim every aspect of the Nazarite vow. The vow, the gifting and anointing were meant to help him, and by example, help the Israelites to stop conforming.

God’s sovereignty means that God will use our disobedience for his good while we suffer the consequences. His plans cannot be thwarted. When we disobey, he will choose others to fulfil that purpose. For some of us, our relationships and association with others are based on control and manipulation. We leave others always indebted to us. That is how some relate with God — Thinking we are so important to God’s affairs that we can hold him at a ransom. It is always about God and his purposes. Moses didn’t lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, Joshua did. Samson killed many dead than when he was alive. He didn’t live to make a riddle about his great conquest. That he also did this blind and bruised reminds us again that it is always about God. The power comes from him and his Spirit.

A lifestyle of disobedience and wrong choices grieves the Holy Spirit leading to spiritual blindness. The challenge with spiritual blindness is that it is not visible to the naked eye. The fruit of spiritual blindness ripens (becomes visible to the naked eye) after three to seven years. The seeds of Samson’s mighty fall were sowed when he disregarded the first Nazarite vow. From then on, it was downhill. As he was playing games with Delilah, he was using historical data and past triumphs. This happens to many of us today – Our testimony and encounters are a bit aged by 20 to 30 years. We find ourselves hanging on to strategies and insights that are truly stale and are only fit for the archives.

Disobedience makes us lose our focus. Focus helps us to keep on track with the purpose and calling.  Some sideshows that we introduce or entertain can become a major distraction. Samson was angry with Philistines because they had solved the riddle and not because he did not go home with his wife to consummate his marriage.

The ultimate price of disobedience is death. The physical is visible, quite visible. Spiritual death is not discernible to the naked eye. Neglecting our calling leads to spiritual death before the eventual physical death. This spiritual blindness is what made Samson culpable to more deception and manipulation. He continued to entertain Delilah. When Delilah was serving him a special diet of nagging, Samson thought it was one of his famous riddle or games of who was stronger now. 

Poor Companionship

Samson had poor companions. The way his companion readily took his wife says everything him and his relationship with Samson. We can argue and extrapolate that if Samson’s calling was up for bidding, the companion would have said, “it is about time.” This is a warning about the people we keep around or allow us near. Some could be waiting and praying for a moment of weakness, then they can pounce. That dishonesty and jealousy mean in the daily engagements; they will just be draining our strength. Wisdom and discernment on Samson’s part may have helped him. There are those hanging around us, who have already disinherited us.

The women manipulated him after they saw his strength. Paraphrased — there are those who are around us only because of what we have and what we can do, but not because of who we are. They are around us to sabotage us and snuff our light, and make sure we do not fulfil our calling.

Solution: Stewarding the Call

Samson’s mistakes can be captured in “I will wake up and whack the Philistines like I have always done. That day he woke up without his hai — a sign the Spirit of God had already departed—was the culmination of many minor decisions over the 20 years ruled — The climax of many neglects. As the neglect starts spiritually before it manifests physically, stewarding the call has to start with the spiritual so as to catch the little foxes which daily seek to nimble at us.

The key to avoid neglecting the calling and all the Lord’s blessings and gifts is proper stewarding with wisdom, humility and discernment. We should seek a relationship with God before those circumstances that threaten to choke you come. See Samson prayed for water and final strength to kill the Philistines. As David says in Psalm 27, a relationship means when the day of trouble comes, you are already in a personal relationship with God. No matter the gift, talent or anointing, we should value the Giver more than the gift.

We should also embrace a life of divine inquiry. Things are not always what they seem. And we are called to live by faith, not sight. Therefore, it is proper to inquire especially the right time, place and people.

Embrace reflection and evaluation: Good to check if we are still on course. Some questions:

  1. Am I still on track with the purpose and calling God bestowed on me?
  2. Am I using the gifts, blessings and talents for God’s purposes and glory?

Most importantly, we are reminded that our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). Thus, the solution is spiritual — wear the full armour of God (Ephesians 6:13) and submit ourselves to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). 

God is on our side, rooting for us to succeed. He has promised to carry the good work he has begun in us on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus, (Philippians 1:6). He who has called us is faithful, and he will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24 24). He has promised never to us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life. (1 Peter 1:3). That is our God — loving and merciful. Samson, with all his shortcomings and misadventures, he is listed among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11.

A blind but transformed Samson was able to focus on the important things and the prayer he made was answered because it was in line with God’s purpose for his life. Maybe the Samson of old would have asked for his eyes first to identify his tormentors. Our God is forgiving and merciful. When we call on Him, He forgives and redeems us. That last cry saved Samson and his mission on earth. It is not late for anyone.

Martin Peter Mburu Waweru is a born-again Christian who loves writing, storytelling, blogging, and talking about Jesus. He lives with his family in Nairobi, Kenya. Martin has a PhD in Theoretical Linguistics, a Master’s in English and linguistics and a Bachelor’s in education. He has over fifteen years of experience teaching English, linguistics and writing at the university. He has published several textbooks for use in Kenyan schools. He has self-published two Christian stories: Mama’s Boardroom and The Last Sermon. They are on Amazon. Currently, he writes Christian fiction and coaches and trains Christian creatives.

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