By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
Samson is one of the most recognizable of the judges who ruled over Israel before the time of the kings. Readers might have a lot to unpack when it comes to this Nazirite judge. Although the article won’t cover everything about the life of this compulsive defeater of Philistines, it will highlight three major portions of his story and what readers can take away from each.
A degradation of morality happens from the start of the judges to the finish (with the exception of Samuel, the last judge). Samson, being the one of the last judges before the passive Eli (1 Samuel 3:18), stood as no exception.
Samson Was a Nazarite. But What Is a Nazarite?
Reared to be set apart as a Nazirite as a miracle child to an infertile family, Samson seemed to try and break every rule in the book. Before we dive into that, we have to define Nazarites.
Those who took the Nazarite vow could not drink anything alcoholic, cut their hair, or go near anything unclean, such as a corpse (Numbers 6:3-7).
Samson Was Violent and Proud.
Samson ignores the rules of his Nazarite vows.
- He eats honeycomb out of the carcass of a dead lion he slew (Judges 14:9)
- He attends a wedding feast, where alcohol is present. Although the text does not indicate whether or not he drank, this article says he still sinned during that occasion when he kills 30 Philistines when his wife, Timnah, tricks him out of a wager (Judges 14). Whether killing them came from a sound mind or a mind under the influence of alcohol, he sinned.
- Later on, his wife cuts his hair, which causes him to lose his great strength he’d been renowned for (Judges 16:20).
Known for violent acts and a bent for revenge, Samson also ends up committing a number of other atrocities. He ties the tails of 300 foxes together, fastens ablaze torches to them, and sets them loose in Philistine fields (Judges 15:4-5).
When the Philistines retaliate and burn Samson’s wife and father in law, he attacks them viciously and kills many of them (Judges 15:7).
Later, he kills a thousand men with a donkey’s jawbone (Judges 15:16)
Samson Loved Delilah, Who Betrayed Him.
Sin has consequences. For Samson, it came in the form of Delilah, a Philistine woman whom Samson fell in love with. The Philistines used this to their advantage and bribed her with 1,100 shekels (about three years’ worth of wages) to divulge the secret to Samson’s strength so they can overcome him (Judges 16:5).
After a great deal of trial and error, Delilah procures the source of his strength, his hair, and cuts it. Then the Philistines blind the now weakened Samson and take him captive.
Samson Cried Out to God at the End of His Life.
Humiliated and now a slave to a Philistine grinding grain, Samson cries out to the Lord (Judges 16:28). He prays for strength one last time when the Philistines call him out to entertain them at their temple.
Placing both hands on pillars supporting the temple, he pushes the two supporting ones apart and kills himself and thousands of Philistines in the process.
What Can We Learn from Samson?
Although the story ends sadly with Samson’s death, we can derive several applications from his life.
1. We cannot abuse any gifts God has given us.
God gifted Samson with incredible strength, but he often abused it, using the might to show off, rather than bring glory to God. He learns the hard way that the Lord can give and take away gifts in a moment’s notice.
2. Sin leads to consequences.
Samson didn’t see the immediate payout for some of his sin until much later, but it tends to catch us at the worst moments. When we feel like acting on impulse, like he had, we need to remind ourselves of the truth of Scriptures. We will encounter many Delilah’s in this world who will try to find our greatest weakness and exploit it.
3. Even at our lowest, God can still use us.
Derived of all strength and humiliated beyond measure, God returns Samson his strength for one last showdown. Although Samson dies in the process, he ends up killing more of Israel’s enemies than he ever had during his boastful, revengeful days.
Photo Credit: Getty/Rudall30
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 500 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel Den for July 2020. Find out more about her here.