Read: Judges 16:23-31
O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes. (v. 28)
Is it possible for someone to pray an authentic prayer that asks for revenge? That is exactly what Samson prayed for. This is a difficult prayer for our ears, one that does not seem to reflect Jesus’ teaching about how we should pray for our enemies. He hardly meant that we should pray for the strength to kill them!
It helps a little bit to notice that Samson wants not only to take revenge on his enemies but also to vindicate God as the one true God. It helps a bit more to notice that Samson has learned something through his sufferings, and is much less arrogant and brash than he once was.
This is still a difficult prayer. It is, however, an honest prayer. Samson reveals his own deep need and his own deep connection with God in this prayer. We recognize ourselves in Samson when we realize that situations of grief, of betrayal, of great loss sometimes wring from us prayers of honest pain and anger. God is able to hear and understand our most raw and ragged prayers and accept them in divine love and faithfulness. —Leanne VanDyk
Prayer: We pray for your help at all times, O Lord, but especially when we are at the end of our own strength, remember and strengthen us then. Amen.
About the Author
Leanne Van Dyk is a Reformed theologian and theological educator. She has focused much of her work on atonement theology and the development of theological education. She is the tenth president of Columbia Theological Seminary.