Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
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That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man / And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
— Judges 16:17,19
Samson, not the smartest of men, had just one thing going for him: his immense, God-given strength. Moving as he did through the world, waging wars, slaughtering innocent people, destroying crop fields, he survived only because of brute strength. No ties could bind him. The trouble was, his strength was wholly dependent on the length of his hair. No hair, no strength—and no reserves. This of course puts Samson in a very vulnerable position, when Delilah (a Philistine herself) teases out from him his secret. Paradoxically, the fragility of man is epitomised in Samson, the strongest man of all.
Samson possessed what today would be named a single point of failure. This made him fragile, and prone to easy destruction. Children reliant on one group of friends can be destroyed to the point of suicide if that group turns on them. Adults, giving everything they have to one relationship can fall apart if the object of their focus leaves them. Commercial companies having a single product line, or a narrow business model will collapse at a slight change in market forces. To survive we need robustness, multiple strengths, each to draw on when another fails. Those humans surviving the oppression of covid19 lockdown and restrictions on personal freedom are the ones with multiple springs to drink from. Those among us with few resources, perhaps relying on a single income, or a narrow social life, now torn apart, fall victim to depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. Those businesses unable to adapt to change, or with few reserves to draw on have gone under. Fragility. We would all do well to look at ourselves, at where we stand on the fragility-to-robustness scale. The world is wider and far more tangled today than it was even fifty years ago, when a single skill could get you a job for life, and circles of friends were smaller, more local. One could find one's niche in life and be secure until death. Things are different today, and we need to cultivate a robust life to survive and thrive.
To Samson's credit, after losing his strength, being blinded and then imprisoned he finally uncovers a reserve he had all along, a different kind of strength to draw on: the strength of faith. With this he is able to bring the Philistine palace and all within to ruin. It is, in the end, his faith more than his brute strength that redeems him.