Lessons From the Life of Samson

I am going through the book of Judges and was studying the life of Samson.  You know, Samson: The weakest strong man.  Samson had great physical strength but… he was weak in character.  His lack of self-control ended up hurting his life in so many ways.

Samson’s name in Hebrew, Shimshon, meant the son of the sun. Why was he named after the sun we are not clearly told in scripture. One commentator shares that it was given to him, as he was the future deliverer of Israel Samson bore the name of God, who is called “a sun and shield” in Psalms 84:11. As God protected Israel, so did Samson watch over it in his generation, judging the people even as did God.

Samson eventually did deal with the LORD’s enemies.  However, he lacked the ability to keep to the agreement to stay true to his lifelong commitment of the Nazarite vow.  In violation of that vow, Samson, drunk wine, touched dead carcasses, and cut his hair; and, he did so intentionally!  What is the Bible trying to teach us here?

In reviewing the life of Samson and coming to a greater understanding of who Yahweh is, I can only see the love, mercy, patience, forbearance and kindness of God in action. In spite of Samson’s rebellious life God continued to reach out to Him in love in order to encourage Him to change his way.  The Bible says: “The Lord is longsuffering towards us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

The Father loves His children.  He also desired to deliver His children from the hand of their enemies so, He used the “best” that was available to do so.  The “best” at that time was Samson.  So, God, as He often does, takes what we give Him and seeks to help us see our need of Him in order that we change and also so that those around us get the opportunity to be saved as well. This was the case in the life and the time of Samson.

We must also understand that man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).  While we look at what was happening on the outside of Shimshon’s (Samson’s Hebrew name which meant the protector of Israel) life, we fail to be sensitive to the reality that he was acting out as a result of his upbringing as a Danite with no real land.  Samson lived among a halfhearted, non-fully devoted people who kept seeking and serving themselves as well as other deities. This seems to have had an impact on his life.  However, through this all our heavenly Father was seeking to help Samson see his need for Him!   God’s Spirit often stirred and came upon Samson to lead, guide and help him (see Judges 13-16).  Yet, Samson always possessed the freedom of choice to be totally guided by the Spirit of God or to take the reins of his own life and act selfishly.  Too often, when God was moving Samson in a certain direction, Samson did move in the direction God wanted him to at first and then quickly decided: “I will do things my way!”  Sad indeed.

So, Samson violated his Nazarite vow.  He drank wine, touched a dead carcass and cut his hair all in violation of that vow.  In the book of Numbers chapter six (6) you will find that if the vow was broken unintentionally there was a sacrifice that could be offered.  However, Samson intentionally broke the vow so there was no sacrifice that could be made for his sin… or, was there?  Follow me as this is deep!

According to the law there was no sacrifice that could be made if one intentionally broke the Nazarite Vow.  Samson willfully discarded this vow and this slowly led him to indulge in the sin of the flesh.  However, God was not through with Samson.  Yahweh never gives up on His children, he pursues us with an everlasting love! 

One day, God allowed Samson to be captured and to be made a spectacle of.  As Samson was reaping the consequences of his sin in Gaza, he was alone and had much time to think about his life.  As he was imprisoned with his eyes gouged out and turning a large millstone and grinding grain, he must have thought of his broken vow and the broken heart of his heavenly Father.  It was here that he realized that his life did not have to end in disgrace, in sin, and with the loss of true meaning and purpose. 

So, as the Bible says, one day the Philistines were having a feast and making great sacrifices to their god Dagon, they decided to make fun of Samson and his God and place Shimshon (the protector of Israel) on disgraceful display.  As Samson was brought before the jeering crowd, he remembered his vow and his purpose in life.  As he heard the screaming of the mocking crowd he repented of his sins, cried out to his loving Heavenly Father and found mercy, love, forgiveness and grace!  Samson then presented the greatest sacrifice that could be given as a token of his remorse and repentance while at the same time fulfilled his life calling.  Samson gave his life!  He gave his life to God, and gave his life for his people. And as Samson cried out:

“O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” 

The Spirit of God came upon Samson and the true Protector of Israel worked through his son Shimshon to deliver His people.  What an amazing story of great love and deliverance. 

Think about it, Samson was delivered from sin, himself and selfishness while at the same time God’s people were delivered from their enemy and Satan was defeated in so many ways!  Samson is now listed in the book of Hebrews Hall of faith!  (Hebrews 11)

My friend, I don’t know where you are in life right now.  You may feel that your life is going nowhere and that you have let your Heavenly Father down.  However, the story of Samson is a reminder that when all seems to have been lost, we can cry out to Yahweh and say:  

“O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the enemy that has bound me.” 

And when we do, our Father God will come to our side, and the walls will come tumbling down, the chains will be broken, and we will be set free! 

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