Samson is well known throughout the world as a man with “supernatural strength” and yet he is also known as a man with “moral weakness.” He was a MAN OF FAITH (Hebrews 11:32-34) but he was also “a man subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:17).   We find the story of his life in Judges chapters 13-16. Let’s trace some of the “highlights” of Samson’s unusual life.

1) His BIRTH: “Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son…and no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.’” (13:2-3, 5). We learn here that God had a special mission for this man from the moment he was born (compare Jeremiah 1:4-5 and Luke 1:5-17). He was to be a NAZARITE (which means he would be “separated from the world and separated unto God”) and a DELIVERER of his people (Israel) from their enemies, the Philistines (this is where his supernatural strength from God would be used).

2) His LIFE: Later, in verses 24-25, we read: “So the woman bore a son and call his name Samson; and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.” Again, this was a very rare case where God chose one from their womb to serve him and as he grew older the Lord BLESSED HIM (we aren’t told how) and MOVED HIM (no doubt, to begin to “deliver Israel from their enemies”). His supernatural strength was first manifested by killing a lion with his bare hands (14:5-6) but was later manifested in slaying many of Israel’s enemies (14:19; 15:14-15; 16:4-8). The story of how he took a “jawbone of a donkey….and killed a thousand men with it” is one of the favorites that is read to children.

3) His WEAKNESS and FAILURE: Many are also acquainted with the story of “Samson and Delilah.” We read early on of Samson’s WEAKNESS when it comes to women. When he was still relatively young, we read that “he went up and told his father and mother, saying, ‘I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife” (14:2). Imagine that, instead of desiring a woman “among his own people,” he chooses one “among his enemies!” He took her for his wife and afterwards she died a terrible death (see 15:1—8), but his weakness for women led to him coming into a harlot living in the city of Gaza in the land of the Philistines (16:1). The Gazites were informed of this and surrounded the place, but he escaped (16:2-3). Then he met Delilah and fell in love with her (verse 4) but the Philistines used Delilah to trick him into telling her the secret of his strength, as we see in verse 17, “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazarite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” Delilah then called for the Philistines, they cut his hair while he slept, and then “took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza” where they “bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison (verses 18-22).

4) His DEATH and FINAL VICTORY: The lords of the Philistines then had a great celebration and offered “a great sacrifice to Dagon their god…and they said, ‘Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy’” (verse 23). The people also rejoiced and praised their god (verse 24), and then they called for Samson to perform for them (verse 25). Samson, though humiliated, called out to the Lord in his last hour saying, “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” (verse 28). He then “took hold of two middle pillars which supported the temple” and “pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So that the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life” (verses 29-30).

Lessons for us: 1) God can give believers in Christ strength to defeat our enemies (see Ephesians 6:10-18). 2) If we fail by yielding to temptations in the world, we will “reap what we sow” (see Romans 12:2a; James 4:2-4, 1st John 2:15-17 and Galatians 6:7-8). 3) God is merciful and if we call out to him in true repentance and dependence, He will forgive, restore, and use us again for His honor and glory (see 1st John 1:9; Hebrews 4:14-16).  (DO)  (565.5)