STRENGTH FROM OBEDIENCE:
THE POWER OF A CLEAR CONSCIENCE
warrior Samson: [“The Philistines] bound Samson with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting.
” The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power.
” The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. So he told Delilah [his girlfriend] everything. “No razor
has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth.
If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”
When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.
” Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. ” Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes, and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison (Judges 15:13-16:21).
Samson’s power did not come from his hair. Obviously, God gave Samson his supernatural strength. Samson’s hair only represented what gave him strength, his head represented a vow he made to God, and keeping that vow gave him the clear conscience to receive, access, and display God’s power in his life. When Samson revealed the secret about his hair to Delilah, he lost his clear conscience with God and his physical and spiritual strength followed.
And now for some good news. For all of us sinners, God has a restoration plan. Notice how the story picks back up again in verse 22: “But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” In other words, Samson’s clear conscience and connection with the Lord began to grow again as he repented and obeyed. ! Then, after his arms were strapped to the temple pillars of the Philistines, he prayed, “O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes” (v. 28), and the Lord renewed his strength in such a way that enabled him to destroy the enemy temple entirely. And in this single act, “he killed much more when he died than while he lived” (v. 30).
The New Testament also reflects this “clear conscience = power” concept. First John 3:21-22 states, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.” As we obey, we are strengthened. And like Samson, we can fully regain our strength.
A related concept pertaining to a knight’s strength is provided in Numbers 14 where Moses admonished the Israelites for moving ahead into battle without God’s blessing:
sinned,” they said. “We will go up to the place the Lord promised.” But Moses said, “Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command? This will not succeed! Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies, for the Amalekites and Canaanites will face you there. Because you have turned away from the Lord, he will not be with you and you will fall by the sword.”
The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.”
Here we see a situation where God’s presence and power were removed from His chosen people until they repented of their sin. They were unable to “stand against their enemies” until their relationship with the Lord had been restored through repentance.
Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with David but had left Saul. So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. In everything he did, he had great success, because the Lord was with him. When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David because he led them in their campaigns (1 Samuel 18:12-16).
The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant.
This passage shows that having a clear conscience before God and man apparently meant just about everything to Joseph.
Consider these portion of Scriptures as you continue reading.
- Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. —Deuteronomy 11:8
- David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God. —1 Samuel 30:6
- Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. —1 Chronicles 16:11
- They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. —Nehemiah 1:10
- Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. —Nehemiah 8:10
- “Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit,” says the Lord God Almighty.—Zechariah 4:6
- Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. —Ephesians 6:10
- I can do all things through him who strengthens me. —Philippians 4:13
1. Where do we often look for strength?
2. What are some of the ways the world encourages us to build strength?
3. How are the world’s sources of strength “broken cisterns”?
4. How can we practically build “real inner strength”?
5. How do we regain our strength after we lose it?
6. What is a strength for? Why does God give us strength?