Samson stands as one of the saddest figures in the Old Testament, a person who started with great potential but squandered it on self-indulgence and sinful living.
Samson's birth was a miracle. His mother was barren, but an angel appeared to her and said she would give birth to a son. He was to be a Nazirite all his life. Nazirites took a vow to abstain from wine and grapes, to not cut their hair or beard, and to avoid contact with dead bodies.
When he reached manhood, Samson's lusts overtook him. He married a Philistine woman, from the pagan conquerors of Israel. That led to a confrontation, and Samson started killing Philistines. On one occasion, he took up the jawbone of a donkey and killed 1,000 men.
Instead of honoring his vow to God, Samson found a prostitute. The Philistines recognized his sexual weakness and got a woman named Delilah to seduce him and learn the secret of his great strength. Samson told her it was in his long hair.
They cut his hair, gouged out his eyes, and made Samson a slave. After a long time of grinding grain, Samson was put on display during a feast to the Philistine god Dagon. As he stood in the crowded temple, Samson positioned himself between two key pillars.
He prayed to God to give him strength for one final act. It had never been Samson's long hair that was the source of his power; it had always been the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him. God answered his prayer. Samson pushed the pillars apart and the temple crashed down, killing himself and 3,000 enemies of Israel.
He was dedicated as a Nazirite, a holy man who was to honor God with his life and provide an example to others. Samson used his physical strength to fight Israel's enemies. He led Israel for 20 years. He is honored in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith.
He had incredible physical strength and fought Israel's enemies throughout his life. He finally realized his mistakes, returned to God, and sacrificed himself in a great victory.
Samson was selfish. God placed him in a position of authority, but he was a bad example as a leader. He ignored the disastrous consequences of sin, both in his own life and its effect on his country.
You can serve yourself, or you can serve God. We live in a culture of sensuality that encourages self-indulgence and flaunting of the Ten Commandments, but sin always has consequences. Do not rely on your own judgment and desires, as Samson did, but follow the Word of God for guidance in living a righteous life.
Zorah, about 15 miles west of Jerusalem.
Referenced in the Bible:
Judges 13-16; Hebrews 11:32.
Judge over Israel.
Father - Manoah
Mother - Unnamed
"You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines." (NIV)
As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. (NIV)
After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. (NIV)
Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. (NIV)