September 13 – Samson

Read Judges 13:1-16:30

Many of the characters we read about in the bible tell us stories of great faith, or great accomplishments made through faith.  We’ve already heard several stories of life change because of the relationship those we read about in the pages of the bible had with God.  The story of Samson however is not one of them.  Samson’s story is one of sadness.  It’s a story of what if…

Set apart to God from birth by an angel, Samson’s parents were given the charge to raise him as a Nazarite.  Nazarites were Jews who had set themselves apart, usually voluntarily, as consecrated to God.  They were not to drink, go near dead bodies, or cut their hair.

Samson, unlike most, was not a Nazarite by choice, because God had a plan for him.  Samson was going to lead Israel out of their bondage to the Philistines.  You get the feeling as you read Samson’s story that he clearly hadn’t bought into God’s plan.   Samson’s God given strength seemed almost surprising to him, like a superpower.  Samson was enamored with himself and completely given to the finer things, namely wine, women ,and merriment.

Along the way Samson breaks all the Nazarene rules:

  • He took a philistine woman for a wife against his parents’ wishes and in clear violation of God’s law about intermarriage with non-Israelites.
  • He killed a lion near a vineyard (somewhere he shouldn’t have been) and later finding a honeycomb in its dead carcass, he ate the honey and gave some to his parents. As a Nazarene he was not supposed to go near a dead body. Later he made a silly bet with the Philistines and lost, so he murdered thirty men in revenge in order to pay his debt.
  • Finally Samson took up with a woman, Delilah (likely another Philistine woman, although we are not told), who is bribed by the Philistines into getting the secret of his strength out of him. Honestly, had he not been such a womanizer it’s hard to understand how he could have been so stupid.  In any case, she betrayed him repeatedly and ultimately he was taken captive, blinded, enslaved, and mocked for sport by his captors.

In the end the best thing you can say about Samson’s life is that God is sovereign.  He can use even the most messed up people to accomplish his will.  We are told that at the time of Samson’s birth Israel had been occupied by the Philistines for 40 years as a punishment for their disobedience to God.  Often in these situations God would send a man of faith to deliver his children in righteousness.  God intended for Samson to be that man.  And while Samson did have faith, he was so disobedient on an ongoing basis that he had to suffer the consequences of his sin.  He broke every rule in the book.  Honestly I could go on and on; prostitutes, partying, divorce, revenge let’s just say Samson was not used to saying no to himself.  In the end, God used Samson to accomplish His will anyway, despite all his flaws.  Samson died in one last dramatic act, sending the Philistine temple tumbling to the ground and in doing so killing about three thousand people in addition to himself.  I say Samson’s story is a story of what if, because in the end you are left wondering; how might Samson’s life have gone differently had Samson been the righteous man God intended him to be?