Who was Samson? | Biblical questions

Samson was a biblical character who lived during the time of the judges, the post-Joshua stage of biblical history. Samson was a judge who represented an interesting leadership stereotype. His physical strength attracted everyone’s attention until he became very popular. He accomplished great deeds, but engaged in behaviors that stained his record. However, by the grace of God, his vindication resulted in a feat that went down in history.

The author of the book of Judges gives ample space to the story of Samson (Judges 13:1 — 16:31), drawing the reader’s attention to the details of this peculiar character. Let’s look at some of the most important.

Separated for a special function

Along with our Lord Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, the birth of Samson was also previously announced by an angel:

“Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her: ‘You are barren and have not had children, but you are going to conceive and give birth to a son. Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, and not to eat any unclean thing. Because you are going to conceive and give birth to a son. He will not pass a razor over his head, because the child will be a Nazarite for God from the womb. And he will begin to save Israel from the hands of the Philistines’” (Judges 13:3-5).

With the mission of saving the people of Israel from the Philistines, God had ordered that the child be set apart to serve him in a special way. Manoah’s barren wife would become the mother of the first mentioned in the Biblical narrative (Judges 13:5). Therefore, he had to have the representative characteristics of said distinction, which implied not cutting his hair, and abstaining from wine or liquor and touching dead bodies so as not to be unclean (Nm 6).

An extraordinary but imperfect life

Samson judged the people of Israel for twenty years and gave them great victories by defending them from the Philistines. Samson exhibited tremendous strength at times when the Spirit of God was manifested in him (Judges 13:25). Undoubtedly, it was a physical capacity that the Lord gave him and that made him practically a “superman”. When this happened, he would defeat all of his enemies no matter how many attacked him. With these feats, God showed Israel, his unbelieving people, that he was still with them.

Only by the grace of the God who backed Samson, his story did not end in final defeat.

It is impossible to read about this individual’s life and not be in awe of his incredible skill and strength in battle against his Philistine opponents. It did not matter if it was with the jawbone of a donkey that defeated his enemies (Judges 15:15) or tearing apart a roaring lion that came upon him (Judges 14: 5,6), Samson displayed incomparable strength. However, although he had great victories, he succumbed in other aspects.

You can note in the Judges narrative a decline in his life of holiness. Sadly, Samson was seduced by the delusion of pleasure. The disordered passion of his flesh dominated him and turned his heart away. This is proven when he slept with a prostitute (Judges 16: 1).

But the debacle of his life occurred when “Samson fell in love with a woman from the valley of Sorec, whose name was Delilah” (Judges 16:4). She was bribed by the Philistine leaders to trick Samson into discovering the secret of her strength. After three failed attempts in which she emotionally manipulated Samson, Delilah convinces him to reveal the secret to her strength. Finally, she hands Samson over to his enemies, who cut off his braids (Judges 16:19). Then something very sad happens and that he did not expect to happen: “She then said: ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon you!’ And he awoke from her dream, and said: ‘I will go out like other times and escape.’ But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him” (Judges 16:20).

We are called to maintain our personal communion with Christ in a godly life

Unfortunately, Samson sinned against God and because of this his Spirit left him. Samson was weakened when this woman became more important than God. His sinful weakness led to his failure. As a consequence, his sin encouraged praise of a false god. Furthermore, he became the object of ridicule by his enemies (Judges 16:25). However, only by the grace of the God behind Samson, his story did not end in final defeat.

Being in chains, in the middle of the party where he was the entertainment, this hero of faith cried out to God in repentance and trust (Heb 11:32-34). The Lord heard him and with his strength he collapsed the building. The result is extremely dramatic: “those he killed at death were more than those he had killed during his lifetime” (Judg 16:30).

learning from samson

The story of Samson is a warning to every Christian, since we are all called to “announce the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9). But, especially, it is a warning for those who have been called to serve the church. In whatever position we are in, regardless of the achievements or recognitions achieved and the skills or abilities we have, we must not forget this exhortation: “He who believes that he is standing, beware, lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12).

We are called to maintain our personal communion with Christ in a godly life characterized by putting to death the sinful desires that battle in our soul. In this way we properly represent the gospel and glorify our God.

At the same time, the life and death of Samson points us to Christ within the context of the biblical story: Jesus is a better Samson. Our Lord is a perfect and sinless judge who saves his people, and who with his death defeated all his enemies so that today we can enjoy salvation (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 2: 14 -fifteen).

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