Here is one of the great prayers of the Bible, with much to teach us, not only about prayer, but about the gracious God who longs to hear our prayers.
The death of Samson is recorded in Judges 16:23-31. The previous passage described how Samson had been arrested, blinded, and imprisoned by the Philistines. The Lord allowed all of this to happen because of Samson’s sin (the violation of his Nazirite vow). But even though Samson suffered the temporal consequences of his sin, the Lord did not abandon him completely. In the final moments of his life, when it appeared that the Philistines were on the verge of offering Samson as a sacrifice to their god, Dagon, Samson prayed to the Lord, and the Lord gave him one final burst of supernatural strength. Samson leaned against the two load-bearing columns that supported the temple, and it came crashing down, killing 3000 Philistines, along with Samson himself. And so, even in death, Samson provides deliverance for the people of Israel. And yet, like all the other judges, Samson is an imperfect deliverer. He points to Israel’s need for lasting, permanent redemption. That redemption is found only by faith in the perfect Son of God, the perfect sacrifice, and perfect deliverer, Jesus Christ.

Following the story of Samson’s miraculous birth in Judges 13, the narrator describes the life of Samson in chapters 14-16. The picture is not altogether flattering. In fact, these chapters portray Samson quite negatively. For most of his life, Samson seems to have been guided primarily by the desires of his eyes and the lusts of his flesh. Although he was consecrated as a Nazirite from birth, we see in these chapters that Samson proves to be a very poor Nazirite. He eventually breaks all three parts of the Nazirite vow, which leads to the severe discipline of the Lord. And yet, even in the midst of severe discipline, the text indicates that Samson still has reason to hope. Despite his rebellion and disobedience, God can still use Samson to advance the kingdom.
What happens when a ram gets in a fight with a shaggy goat? What happens is some very encouraging truth for God’s people today.

Samson is the final judge whose life is profiled in the Book of Judges. His miraculous birth is described in Judges 13. An angel of the Lord appears to Samson’s would-be parents (who were unable to bear children on their own) and announces that Samson’s mother would bear a son and that he would be a Nazirite from birth. A Nazirite was an Israelite under a special vow of consecration to the Lord. Samson’s amazed parents then offer a sacrifice to the Lord while the angel looks on. To their astonishment, the angel “went up in the flame of the altar!” Samson’s parents fall to the ground in fear, but Samson’s mother gains her courage and tells her husband that they have nothing to fear, because the angel has promised that they will be parents of a special child. Samson indeed would be special, but as the narrative unfolds in chapters 14-16, we discover that he was a deeply flawed person, just like the other judges. As mighty as Samson would prove to be, he ended up falling short of being the kind of deliverer that God would one day send when he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to redeem the world.
In this vision Daniel sees four monsters representing proud, “invincible” human empires, that are all crushed by God as easily as we would step on a bug. We often speak of the sovereign throne of God, calm and serene above all the chaos in our world. This chapter is an encouraging picture of that very thing.

The story of Jephthah is one of the most tragic, gut-wrenching stories in the Bible. It’s the story of a man who was rejected by his family as a young man, but who later re-emerged as Israel’s deliverer. But along the way, Jephthah makes a terrible mistake. In his zeal for military victory, he vows to the Lord that he will offer as a sacrifice whatever (or whoever) is first to greet him out of his house when he returns from battle. Little did Jephthah know that the one who would greet him would be his only child, his beloved daughter. And so the story of Jephthah illustrates the tragic consequences of rash vows. But it also demonstrates that even even people of great faith sometimes make terrible blunders, and that despite our sins and failures, God still uses flawed, fallible people like us to advance the kingdom.