Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.(#)
This post is the fourth in a series of five on the theme of Surprises of God’s anointed servants. The fourth surprise is the surprising ways God provides victory.
As I carry out my assignments from God and observe others who are doing the same, I am continually amazed at how he uses surprising instruments to accomplish his purposes. Not only does it surprise me that God uses imperfect people such as myself, but he also gives us surprising instruments to carry out his purposes. Samson is a perfect case and point of this encouraging truth. We are surprised that God chose Samson, with all his imperfections, to be a deliverer of Israel. We are perhaps even more surprised the instrument Samson used to win a great battle – the jawbone of a donkey.
I learn some awesome things about God in this story. I learn that with the Holy Spirit, common things are sufficient to achieve the purposes God has for us. Too often when faced with immense tasks or callings we look for spectacular answers and help. Yet God is not limited by the lack of great resources. A common thing used in the power of the Spirit can bring the victory. This happened a lot in scripture, Moses’ shepherd staff was the instrument for parting the Red Sea and bringing water from a rock (Ex. 14,17), Gideon used trumpets, pitchers and torches to win the day (Judges 7), and Jehoshaphat used a worship band to lead the way to victory (2 Chron. 20). However, common things does not necessarily mean conventional. The donkey’s jawbone was a common thing but its use as a weapon was unconventional. If you have to fight a thousand men, a donkey’s jawbone does not sound like a great weapon. A sharp two edged sword or a fine tipped spear would have been suggested by the conventional thinkers in Samson’s day but God had other plans. Samson had no time to run home to get his sword, he had to work with what was at hand. What was at hand was unconventional but more than sufficient. God is able to use what we can pick up around us.
Another lesson I learn is that overwhelming enemies can be defeated when we are on track with God’s calling and purpose. Samson, though a reluctant deliverer, was called to begin the deliverance of Israel. In his desperate circumstances he was forced to act against the Philistine oppressors and God is with him. One against a thousand is bad odds to say the least, yet with the power and weapon God provided, a great victory was won. There are times in ministry where it seems that we are fighting a thousand enemies. The demonic hoards come against us with shouts of triumph but with the Lord enables us to overcome. If we find we are not standing up against the odds perhaps we should take some time to make sure we are on track with our God-given purpose. There was another time in Scripture when this was clearly the issue. God spoke to King Asa saying “the Lord is with you when you are with him…” (2 Kings 15).
We do well to pause from time to time to ask the Lord if we are with him, with this assurance we can move forward in victory, even if the odds are 1000 to 1.