We begin a new series this Sunday! We will discover life lessons from Samson in the Old Testament. Find out what made him strong, what made him weak and how we can be stronger in spite of our weaknesses. His story is found in Judge 13-15, feel free to read along. We will have more insights and commentary for each chapter as we get into this series. This is the introduction.
It is sad to be remembered for what one might have been. Samson had tremendous potential. Not many people have started life with credentials like his. Born as a result of God’s plan in the lives of Manoah and his wife, Samson was to do a great work for God — to “begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” To help him accomplish God’s plan, he was given enormous physical strength.
Strong before men, Samson was weak before women and couldn’t resist telling them his secrets. Empowered by the Spirit of God, he yielded his body to the appetites of the flesh. Called to declare war on the Philistines, he fraternized with the enemy and even tried to marry a Philistine woman. He fought the Lord’s battles by day and disobeyed the Lord’s commandments by night.
Because Samson wasted his strength on practical jokes and getting out of scrapes, and because he eventually gave it up altogether to satisfy the woman he loved, we tend to see him as a failure. We remember him as the judge in Israel who spent his last days grinding grain in an enemy prison, and we say, “What wasted potential!”
Given the name Samson, which means “sunny,” he ended up in the darkness, blinded by the very enemy he was supposed to conquer.
Four chapters in the Book of Judges are devoted to the history of Samson. In Judges 13-14, we’re introduced to “Sunny” and his parents and we see the light flickering as Samson plays with sin. In Judges 15-16, the light goes out and Samson dies a martyr under the ruins of a heathen temple, a sad end to a promising life.
Yes, Samson wasted his life. He could have strengthened his nation. He could have returned his people to the worship of God. He could have wiped out the Philistines. But even though he did none of those things, Samson still accomplished the purpose announced by the angel who visited his parents before his birth. In his final act, Samson began to rescue Israel from the Philistines.
Interestingly, the New Testament does not mention Samson’s failures or his heroic feats of strength. In Hebrews, he is simply listed with others “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised,” and in other ways were given superhuman aid.
In the end, Samson recognized his dependence on God. When he died, God turned his failures and defeats into victory. Samson’s story teaches us that it is never too late to start over. However badly we may have failed in the past, today is not too late for us to put our complete trust in God.
We can be strong with God’s help.
Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament
Life Application Bible Notes