Hall of Faith: Samson, Made the Ultimate Sacrifice

We all know the story of Samson and Delilah, but there is much more to Samson’s story

Samson’s parents were thrilled to have him and vowed to raise him as they promised God

than just the finale we are all familiar with.

Samson was one of the last judge of the Israelites, before the kings or monarchy was instituted. His story is found in Judges 13-16.

The name Samson means sun.

The story of Samson starts off with a ring of familiarity. Like Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth in the New Testament, the wife of Manoah is barren. Then the angel of the Lord appears and proclaims the couple will have a son who will “deliver the Israelites from the Philistines.”

He killed animals with his bare hands

The Angel of the Lord stated that Manoah’s wife was to abstain from all alcoholic beverages, and her promised child was not to shave or cut his hair. He was to be a “Nazirite” from birth. In ancient Israel, those wanting to be especially dedicated to God for a time could take a Nazarite vow, which included abstaining from wine and spirits, not cutting hair or shaving, and other requirements. The wife believed the Angel of the Lord; her husband was not present, so he prayed and asked God to send the messenger once again to teach them how to raise the boy who was going to be born. The messenger returns and Manoah offered a sacrifice to God.

Samson was turned by pretty women and married a woman his parents didn’t want him to marry

Their son, Samson, was born and they raised him as the angel of the Lord directed.

Yet, as he reached adulthood, Samson did not always do as his parents wished. Against their objections, he married a Philistine woman. On the way to propose, we see the first of several cases in which Samson is “seized by the Spirit of the Lord”. The first time he rips a lion apart with his hands.

At the wedding feast, Samson tells a riddle that the groomsmen cannot solve. They threaten his new wife, who congeals it out of him.

He killed the philistines which angered them

Samson slains Philistines, gives their clothes to the groomsmen and returns home to his parents, while his bride-to-be is married to one of the groomsmen. When he returns to see her, he learns she’s been given to another in marriage. He ties 300 foxes together, lights their tails on fire and burns the fields of the Philistines.

The Philistines try to capture him, but they are never able to out strengthen him.

After “judging” Israel for twenty years,

Delilah coerces Samson to tell her what makes him so strong

Samson falls in love with Delilah. The name Delilah means the weak or longing one. The Philistine’s approach Delilah to determine where Samson gets his strength. He refuses at first, even though she carries out each story he tells. Eventually, he succumbs to her charms and tells her the truth. “God supplies Samson’s power because of his consecration to God as a Nazirite, symbolized by the fact that a razor has never touched his head.” While he sleeps, Delilah shaves his head and he loses his strength and is captured by the Philistines, where he is imprisoned.

He doesn’t tell her at first, but she continues to prompt him

The Bible History Old Testament commentary says, “”The superhuman strength of Samson lay not in his uncut hair, but in this, that Jehovah was with him. But Jehovah was with him only so long as he kept his Nazarite vow.” Or, in the words of an old German commentary: “The whole misery of Samson arose from this, that he appropriated to himself what God had done through him. God allows his strength to be destroyed, that in bitter experience he might learn, how without God’s presence he was nothing at all. And so our falls always teach us best.” But, as ever, sin proves the hardest taskmaster. Every indignity is heaped on fallen Samson. His eyes are put out; he is loaded with fetters of brass, and set to the lowest prison work of slaves.”

When he does reveal his secret, his hair is cut off and he loses his strength

One day he is taken to the temple. He is blind and has to be lead to where he is going. However, he cries out to God,  “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.” Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.” {Judges

His eyes are gauged out and he works as a slave, while his hair continues to grow back


Our commentary continues by saying, “But, blessed be God, neither the history nor its parallel stops here. For “the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.” The sacred text expressly has it: “And the hair of his head began to grow, as it was shorn”—that is, so soon as it had been shorn. Then began a period of godly sorrow and repentance, evidenced both by the return of God to him, and by his last deed of faith, in which for his people he sacrificed his life.”

After his death, he is buried in the tomb of his father.

So what can we learn from Samson?

As a final act of revenge, he destroys the temple while it is full

1. Samson was easily swayed by a beautiful woman

2. Samson’s strength came from God

3. Samson could easily defeat the strongest animal

4. Samson enjoyed flaunting his strength

5. Samson did not learn from his mistakes for a long time

6. Samson had to learn the hard way

7. Samson repented in the end

8. Samson took one last step of faith

9. Samson sacrificed himself for God’s good

So, why did Samson end up in the Hall of Faith?

The Bible History Old Testament commentary sums Samson’s story up best, “First,

Samson had his faults but was also faithful

whenever Samson consciously subordinated his will and wishes to national and Divine purposes, he acted as a Nazarite, and “by faith;” whenever national and Divine purposes were made subservient to his own lusts, he failed and sinned. Thus we perceive throughout, side by side, two elements at work: the Divine and the human; Jehovah and Samson; the supernatural and the natural—intertwining, acting together, influencing each other, as we have so often noticed them throughout the course of Scripture history. Secondly, the influences of the Spirit of God upon Samson come upon him as impulses from without—sudden, mighty, and irresistible by himself and by others.”

In the end, Samson repented and sacrificed himself with one last step of faith.

Pictures courtesy of FreeBibleImages.org

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