Christian History

Introduction to Samson

Samson was the last of the judges of the ancient Israelites as mentioned in the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible. He was also the last of the leaders who judged Israel before the institution of the monarchy. He is considered as the biblical Hercules, a man with super-human strength who could not escape tragedy.

Family: Manoah (father)

Nicknames: Has the title of the physically strongest man in history.

Personality:

  • Incredibly Strong
  • Worldly (At one point in his life)
  • Faithful (At the end)
  • Obedient (Initially and at the end)
  • Selfless (At the end)
  • Womanizer (For most of his life, except the end)

Samson’s Birth

Manoah came from Zorah from the family of Dan. He married a woman who is barren, however, her name was not mentioned in the Bible. She was a daughter of Etam and sister of Ishma.

Chapter 13 of Judges, tells the story of Samson’s birth. One day, an Angel of God appeared to Manoah’s wife and promised her that she will bear a son. However, this promise came with some conditions. She cannot drink wine or beer, and should not eat anything unclean. She also cannot shave the hair of her son because he will be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from birth. The angel also told her that her son will begin to save Israel from the power of the Philistines.

Manoah’s wife gave birth to a son and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him and the spirit of the Lord directed him in the Camp of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Samson’s Life

Samson

Since Samson was predicted and ordained an Israeli deliverer by an angle of God, one might expect him to have matured into a holy man of God. However, he was rough and earthy, and an aggressive womanizer as well.

When Samson became an adult, his first distinguishing act was asking his father to bring him a certain Philistine woman to be his wife. His parents have objected but he insisted because for him, marrying a Philistine woman would give him opportunities to infiltrate and fight the Philistines who are oppressors of the Israelites.

Samson grew up to have incredible strength. When he was on his way to claim his non-Israelite bride, a lion attacked him. That was the first time he discovered his super-human strength. He was able to kill the lion using his bare hands. After that, he was also able to kill 30 Philistine men in a fit of rage.

But of all the attack against the Philistines, the most famous was when he defeated an army of 1000 men on his own. The Philistines were so afraid of his strength that’s why he was able to keep his people safe for 20 years. Unlike other judges, Samson did not raise an army and went on it alone instead.

Although he was strong, Samson was not always wise because he became big headed and did not treat his wife well. Known to be obsessed with Philistine women, he fell in love with another one named Delilah. However, she was a spy and was tasked by her people to find out the secret behind Samson’s strength.

Delilah had begged Samson to know the secret of his strength but he lied three times to her as well. But Delilah’s consistent nagging made Samson confess. He told her that a razor has never come to his head because he had been a Nazirite to God from his mother’s womb. Therefore, if his head would be shaved, his strength would leave him.

Delilah took advantage of the information she got. She lulled Samson to sleep then shaved off his hair. After that, Samson became weak and the power of God left him. Delilah then handed him over to the Philistines. They gouge out his eyes and forced him to grind at a mill in prison.

Samson’s Death

After some time, the Philistines summoned Samson to a party in honor of an idol named Dagon. They bind him to two pillars in their temple as a display for the amusement of the Philistine worshipers. During this time, Samson prayed to God to give him his strength one more time.

God then responded to Samson by giving him a final burst of strength. He pushed against the pillars and brought the entire temple down, killing all those in the temple and as well as himself. He had gained a great victory over the Philistines even when he died.

Samson can be described as a weak, strong man because he had the potential to be one of the most powerful judges Israel ever had, however, he allowed romantic flings, bitter revenge, and poor choices to limit him. But at the end of his story, he was still able to show his faithfulness and selflessness. Samson’s story teaches us to not let our wise goals be distracted by worthless decisions.

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