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The Samson Factor

Samson was a distinguished hero of Israel, recognized for his great physical strength as well as his moral weakness. He was the last of the judges listed in the Book of Judges, and the prophet Samuel was the last judge of Israel. Samson led Israel as a military leader for about 20 years. He was from the tribe of Dan. Dan means "judge."

After Joshua had died, the Israelites became lawless and faithless. This was clearly summarized in Judges 17:6 and 21:25 that in those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. God's commandments were simply ignored.

But Samson's parents showed some faith in the Lord. As the Philistines were oppressing the Israelites (Judges 13:1), the Lord declared to Manoah and his wife that they would bear a son who would be raised as a Nazirite (Judges 13:5). The name of Samson meant "sunlight." Born in a very turbulent period of Israel's history, he was to be a light to his people. He was supposed to be a shining example to the people of Israel in terms of faithfulness and commitment to God. However, Samson fell short of his calling.

Samson was a mighty man. With his bare hands, he killed a young lion that attacked him (Judges 14:5-6). He also gathered 300 foxes (Judges 15:4). After tying them together, he sent them through the grain fields with torches in their tails, destroying the crops of the Philistines. On another occasion, the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he broke the ropes of those who had bound him, and killed a thousand Philistine soldiers with the jawbone of a donkey (Judges 15:14-15). Before his death, he brought down the temple at Gaza. The temple crashed down upon the Philistine leaders and all the people. Upon his death, he killed more enemies than he ever did in his entire lifetime (Judges 16:30).

Though Samson was mighty, he was also very weak. He was a very foolish man. His life was marred by his weakness for pagan women. He fell in love with one of the daughters of the Philistines. He insisted on marrying her, in spite of his parents' objection (Judges 14:1-4). This was clearly against God's laws, which forbade intermarriage of the Israelites among the women of Canaan. On another occasion, he was almost captured by the Philistines while visiting a prostitute in the city of Gaza. He took vengeance upon his own hands, killing those who had cheated him or took advantage of him (Judges 14-16). He had not obeyed the word of the Lord, "Vengeance is Mine" (Deut. 32:35).

Vengeance is Mine, and recompense;
Their foot shall slip in due time;
For the day of their calamity is at hand,
And the things to come hasten upon them.

Samson eventually became involved with Delilah, a woman from the Valley of Sorek (Judges 16:4). This became his downfall. The Philistines bribed her to find out the secret to his super strength. She pestered him until he gave in and revealed that his uncut hair was the answer for his supernatural power. While Samson slept, Delilah called a man to shave off his hair. Samson became weak because the Lord had departed from him, and not because his hair had been cut (Judges 16:20). She then turned him over to his enemies.

Samson was then blinded, and forced to grind grain. Eventually he came to his senses, and realized that God had given him great strength to serve the Lord and His people. After a prayer to God, he killed several thousands of his enemies by pulling down the pillars of the temple of Dagon (Judges 16:28-31). This one great act of faith cost Samson his life, but it won for him a place among the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:32). Out of weakness, he was made strong by the power of the Lord (Hebrews 11:34).

Samson was a person with great potential who fell short because of his sin and disobedience. Mighty in physical strength, he was weak in resisting temptation. His life is a clear warning against the dangers of self-indulgence and lack of discipline.

Below are some other important lessons we can learn from the story of Samson:

  • As Samson was a judge, God is also the Judge. Do not oppress the people of Israel because the LORD had promised to fight for them.

So the LORD of hosts will come down
To fight for Mount Zion and for its hill.
Like birds flying about,
So will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem.
Defending, He will also deliver it;
Passing over, He will preserve it. (Isaiah 31:4-5)

Their battle belongs to the LORD. They do not have to fight, but only stand still and see the salvation of the LORD! Throughout history, this remains a constant featuring factor. The LORD of hosts called Himself the Mighty One of Israel.

Therefore the Lord says,
The LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel,
"Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries,
And take vengeance on My enemies.

I will turn My hand against you,
And thoroughly purge away your dross,
And take away all your alloy.
I will restore your judges as at the first,
And your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city." (Isaiah 1:24-26)

  • Do not terrorize them because they do not have a king. Their King of glory is coming. The return of the King is soon and very soon. He will destroy all their enemies. God is not against the people but against the spirit of the Antichrist! What characterizes the Antichrist? In a very simple term, he is anti-Messiah as the very meaning of Christ is the Messiah or the Anointed One. The Antichrist is against the Coming of the Messiah to rule and reign on earth! He wanted to be on the throne himself!

Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
"Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us."

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The LORD shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
"Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion

"I will declare the decree:
The LORD has said to Me,
'You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.' "

Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psalm 2)

  • Since Samson was the last judge listed in the Book of Judges before the kings of Israel began their reigns, he was like a forerunner to the kings. We too must prepare the way for the King of glory as He is coming back again for His beloved, Israel.

Go through,
Go through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people;
Build up,
Build up the highway!
Take out the stones,
Lift up a banner for the peoples!

Indeed the LORD has proclaimed
To the end of the world:
"Say to the daughter of Zion,
'Surely your salvation is coming;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.'"

And they shall call them The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the LORD;
And you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken. (Isaiah 62:10-12)

  • When Samson had his final showdown at Gaza, thousands of the enemies of Israel were wiped out. Samson might be weak when he was blinded. He might lose his strength temporarily for a season. But when the LORD came upon him again, he regained supernatural strength, and became even mightier. Therefore, do not intimidate Israel when she is weak. Rest assured when the LORD fights for her, she becomes very strong! If God is for her, who can be against her?

  • Note that Gaza was once a city of the Philistines but it was specially allotted to the tribe of Judah by Joshua (Joshua 15:47). Rest assured that Gaza belongs to the Lion of Judah! It will be His before or upon His return.

  • In the New Testament, the evangelist Philip was directed by God to preach the gospel along the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:26). On this road, the Ethiopian eunuch professed faith in Jesus and was baptized. I believe as stated in Matthew 24:14 that this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Multitudes of Jews, Muslims and other people groups would eventually come to receive Jesus as their Messiah, Saviour and LORD! He is the King of glory!

Note: I wrote this article after watching a very long forgotten movie "Samson and Delilah" (1949). It was produced and directed by
Cecil B. DeMille.

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Written On:
23 September 2005