Samson as told to children is a hero. He is a strong Hercules type man that is able to slay lions and tear them apart. He is able to catch 300 foxes and tie their tails together to set fire to the fields of his enemies. He able to fight and destroy 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey. And at the end of his life God gave him strength one last time to kill more Philistines in his death than all the rest of his life.
It is a great children’s story to help them know that God is with them and they can be strong by trusting in God the Father. Now let’s turn back to the pages of Judges and look at this story through our adult eyes.
“Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.” (Judges 13:1 NASB)
The Philistines were aggressive warriors who lived in Canaan near the Mediterranean Sea near the coast of Gaza. They worshipped three gods: Ashtoreth, Dagon, and Baal-Zebub. The tribe of Dan which was Samson’s family occupied the area closest to them in the land just to the north.
This was the time in which Samson was born. Samson’s birth was announced by an angel to his mother who was barren. The angel said she was to drink no wine or alcohol or to eat anything unclean. The child she was carrying would be dedicated from birth to be a Nazirite. A Nazirite was someone who took a vow not to drink to alcohol or wine, eat anything that was unclean and no razor would touch their hair. The angel told Samson’s mother, “he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5 NKJV)
Even though it was a difficult time in the history of Israel his parents must have given Samson spiritual training of some sort. Not much is said of Samson’s childhood. All we are told is that he grew and the Lord blessed him. His spiritual upbringing was darkened by living during a time when each man “did what was right in his own eyes.” One day Samson takes a walk to Timnah. Timnah is a Philistine city filled with enemies of Israel. Judges 13:25 tells us that, “the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.” I am sure Samson had heard the stories of the Philistines and the horrible things they had done to his people. Curiosity may have gotten the best on him. His journey may or may not have been led by this move of the Spirit upon him. Regardless, he did not stand firm on his upbringing. He wandered through the city and saw a beautiful young woman. He let the desires of his youth overtake him. Thus the downward spiral of his descend into sin began.
A life of compromise becomes Samson’s testimony for at least the next several years. Samson started out with so much: a family heritage, godly parents,and a great promise of God to be set apart for service to God. But just like us, Samson had weaknesses. Throughout the entire story, Samson follows the pattern of the culture at the time. “Each man did what was right in his own eyes”. After taking revenge on the Philistines for burning and killing the woman and her family in Timnah, Samson went to live in the caves of Etam. During this time He must have made peace with God and repented of his youth because the Spirit of the LORD came to him again in the desert. But his enemies made life harder for the people of Judah. Three thousand men of Judah came to him in order to bring him to the enemy. In wisdom, Samson requested that they bind him and swear they would not kill him themselves. When he came to the Philistines, the Spirit came again to him and he killed 1000 of the enemy. Then the Lord opened a fountain of water to refresh him and the scripture says, “So he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.” Judges 15:20. NASB
But there is one more time he lets himself be beguiled by a beautiful woman. Delilah will be his nemesis. He gives her the secret to his strength and thus is the beginning of the end for Samson. Samson has defiled himself to the point that “he did not know that the LORD had departed from him” (Judges 16:20 NAS) He is taken captive and led to the grinder in the prison. He is enslaved, mocked and blinded.
But he remembers his God and calls on Him. He is brought to the assembly where the people were to worship Dagon, offer a sacrifice and rejoice that Samson their enemy was delivered into their hands. Samson prays for God to avenge the Philistines for his “two eyes”. God grants him strength and 3000 were killed including Samson.
Samson’s story is a lesson to us on how far sin can take us but it is also shows us that God’s hand is always there to strengthen us if we call on him. God took the bad in Samson’s life and used it to deliver the people of Israel from the hand of the Philistines. Samson had so much promise. For twenty years he judged Israel. Samson, as poor of an illustration as he was, still is listed in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith. “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets. Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained what was promised, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, put foreign armies to flight, and women received back their dead raised to life.” Hebrews 11:32-35a.(NET).
Lessons from Samson:
- Remember the heritage that was given to us when we become joint heirs with Jesus in salvation.
- Guard carefully your spiritual walks. Watch for the danger signs and move quickly to repent of failures.
- Listen to the godly counsel given to you through the Word of God, through parents, godly leaders.
- Remember: Vengeance is mine says the Lord. Don’t take matters of revenge into your life.
- Remember: I am not strong enough on my own.