His name means: “Little Sun”
His work: To deliver Israel from the Philistines. His character: Samson’s erotic attachments to foreign women eventually led to his death. A man of mythic strength, he was inwardly weak, given to anger and unfaithful to his Nazirite vows. His prayers as well as his actions against the Philistines seem to have been motivated by the desire for personal vengeance. His sorrow: To have been blinded and imprisoned by his lifelong enemies. His triumph: To have killed more Philistines by his death than he had while living. Key Scriptures: Judges 13-16
A Look at the Man
One of the first Bible stories children hear is the story of Samson, the man who defeated his enemies with a superhuman feat of strength. But it is such an unsavory story that we find ourselves leaving out certain details, for example, Samson’s boasting, his visits to prostitutes, or his murderous rage. Even the man’s prayers were selfish, focused as they were on his own desire for revenge rather than on God’s glory.
Why would God, knowing the future, choose such a person to play such a role, even sending an angel to announce his birth? The question is not easily answered. But it is certainly true that Samson would have been a better man had he paid attention to the call God had placed on his life. Instead, he seems to have squandered the promise of his life by living it in a self-centered, self-directed way.
Ironically, the pattern of his life formed a vivid picture of Israel’s own unfaithfulness during a period when it seemed incapable of resisting the allurement of foreign gods. And so the people God had set apart and called his own, the nation he intended to build up and make strong, grew progressively weaker in the land he had promised.
Samson’s story reminds us of God’s faithfulness, of his ability to deliver his people regardless of the circumstances and despite their sins. It also reminds us of what can happen when we allow ourselves to become attached to things and people, however enticing, that might end in our own self-destruction.
Reflect On: Judges 16:23–31 Praise God: For his sovereignty. Offer Thanks: For God’s strength working within you. Confess: Any promises you have made to God and not kept. Ask God: To make you a person who is strong on the inside.
Today’s reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler.