Samson and success aren't always two words people think of in the same sentence. Honestly, does Samson really seem that successful? After all, he disobeyed God, he married (or tried to, anyway) a Philistine woman, and died a slave. This man who was set apart for God from before his conception, who never (willingly) cut his hair, who God called a judge in Israel; this is the man who defied God's ways, at almost every turn.
Just where is Samson's success? It certainly isn't obvious. The most common sermon topic I've heard on his life is definitely not dealing with success. It is usually an example of why we need to obey God, and what happens when we walk in opposition to God's ways. And with good reason. Samson definitely walked in defiance of God's Law - the very law he was ordained (from before his birth) to uphold!
Yet, when you look past the obvious, a precious nugget begins to emerge, precisely because Samson didn't care about walking on obedience to God. The power of the Spirit came upon him at times, but it wasn't because Samson wanted it. God used Samson to judge the Philistines, but not because Samson wanted to be used, or even submitted to God's authority. And yet, Samson still ultimately accomplished what God ordained him to accomplish.
The reason Samson was successful is because God worked through Samson's life! His purposes were not thwarted, regardless of Samson's attitude, behavior, disrespect, or arrogance. In the end, Samson accomplished exactly what God wanted him to. The angel who spoke to Manoah's wife said, "...he shall begin to save Israel from the Philistines." Judges 13:5 ESV. And he did.
But take a minute to really examine the nugget; God accomplished what He'd planned through Samson...in spite of Samson's attitude AND behavior.
Samson didn't submit to God's authority. He wasn't indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He didn't obey God's Law; the only part of his oath that he kept was not to cut his hair, and that was probably because of his own selfish pleasure of being strong!! Samson didn't care. The average follower of Jesus, however, cares...deeply.
If God could accomplish His purposes through Samson, who was SO not seeking to be God's vessel, what can God do through His people who truly desire to, in our frail, broken ways, walk in His way? If God can work through Samson, He can work through anyone! And that gives me peace, comfort, and confidence.