Introduction: This PM we are going to study a very unique prayer among the prayers of the Bible. There are not many prayers in the Bible that were uttered at or near the time of death of the person who prayed the prayer. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed while He was dying on the cross, and there were others who most surely prayed or were praying at the time they were called home to Heaven. We know Stephen was praying when He died as well. But this prayer of Samson’s is totally different from the other death time prayers we find. It is different because it is a very sad ending to a man’s life that could have been. This PM we will examine the four main requests of Samson’s last prayer.
I. REQUEST #1 - Remember Me
Here are some other references in the Word of God where people said the same thing: 1 Sam. 1:11; Neh. 13:14,22,31; Jer. 15:15; Luke 23:42
In each of these references the person is praying to God or speaking to Christ and wanting God to recall past things they have done or simply to look upon them and the request they are about to beseech Him for. Except for several times in the epistles of Paul, the words "Remember Me" are used in prayer. It is a natural human desire to be remembered by others and especially God. It is certainly amazing that this man who had forgotten God so often in his life would now come to God and ask God to remember Him. This is so like God’s people today who live in disobedience for years and then want God to remember them when a major test comes along. It is the supplicant who feels like they need to tell God to remember them, but in reality, it has been this very same supplicant who has not remembered God. They feel distant from God, and are in fact spiritually distant from Him in their daily walk and talk. It is no wonder that they feel the need to ask God to remember them.
Samson had probably repented of all his wrong doings of the past by this time. He had had plently of time to reflect upon his past transgressions and to understand that he was in his present plight because of his own doings.
If we need to ask the Lord to remember us, then we have probably wandered far from Him ourselves, but praise the Lord we can still turn to Him and know that He is willing to hear and answer those who come in faith.
II. REQUEST #2 - Strengthen Me
Judges 16 is a chapter full of references to Samson’s strength or lack thereof. Of all the chapters on Samson this one has the most (16:5,6,9,15,17,19,28). The term is used many times in the scriptures, but it is not always used with the word "me" following it. It is found in this form in Psalm 119:28 where David realizes the strength he needs from the Word of God.
In the context of Judges 16 we understand Samson’s request to be centered upon the return of his physical strength. It was here, at the end of his life, that Samson finally fully understood and believed where his great strength originated from. Samson was a man indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God who impowered him for the work of being a Judge of Israel. Yes, the strength left him when his hair was cut, and after his hair grew back, this is when he asks God for his strength back, but it was not necessarily the hair, it was the Holy Spirit of God at work in this man’s life. The hair and the other Nazarite vow signs were outward manifestations of God’s control in that person’s life. God wanted the person who was a Nazarite to be a living picture of God’s power and control among the people. Unfortunately, Samson was one who wanted to go his own way many times.
Yes, Samson needed physical strength, but he really needed the spiritual strength that only the Lord can give. Obviously Samson was a man of faith at this point for Heb. 11:32 has him in the list of giants of the faith from the OT period.
III. REQUEST #3 - Let me avenge myself upon the Philistines for the lose of sight in my two eyes.
Some have questioned the fact that Samson was simply avenging himself upon the Philistines and God let him. It is true that this was part of the whole equation, but it must also be understood that Samson, and God, had heard the boastful utterings and songs the people were singing about the greatness of Dagon over Jehovah and Samson. I believe that Samson was also angered by what he heard and wanted an opportunity to show his loyality to God once again. He was a proud man, and he had been humbled for some time now. Also, in the OT avenging wrong doing was allowable. Remember all the precatory psalms written by David! We also need to realize that Samson’s avenging was also God’s judgment, for the time being, upon these wicked people who were putting their false god before the One True Living God.
As believers today, we need to leave all avenging in the Lord’s hands. It is not for us to ask God to avenge ourselves upon his enemies. God is well able to do such things.
IV. REQUEST #4 - Let me die with the Philistines.
There are a few other instances in the Word of God were people asked God to let them die. Elijah in 1 Kings 19:4; and Jonah in Jonah 4:3,8. God did not honor such requests, and Elijah eventually didn’t experience death but was transported to Heaven. Jonah eventually died, most likely of natural causes. Yet, this time God allowed Samson to have his request honored and answered in a most dramatic fashion. It must be remembered that Samson had defiled himself, broken God’s laws about the Nazarite, and had been humbled as a result. There was not much more that Samson could do at this point as a Judge, his work was done. I believe the request was honored and allowed because of the previous praising of Dagon by the Philistines. This would not have taken place if Samson had been faithful to God right from the beginning. Therefore, God used Samson and his request to underline the utter foolishness of these people in their worship of Dagon and attaching praise to him.
How often do we give the world cause to dispise Christ the Way of Salvation with our foolish living and words? Count it down, God will bring back on the wind the wild seek sown. Samson is allowed to die for his work is done, but he can serve God in this final way by causing the Philistines and God’s people, Israel, to realize the utter power of Jehovah. Death for Samson was not the end of the story for him, of course. As a man of faith, he was instantly in Abraham’s bosom, the place of the righteous after death in the OT period.
Conclusion: Let us learn from this short lesson on Samson’s prayer that God does in fact hear pray from the lips of past rebels who have been humbled and have humbled themselves before God. Let us also learn that such a state of things need not be the case if we will only walk with God in obedience all our days, not just at the end of them.