Think of him as the Thor of biblical times.
Samson’s supernatural strength is legendary. It was promised to his parents that, as long as his hair grew, God would bless him with unparalleled, physical strength. He grew up during a time when the Israelites were being punished for ignoring God. After forty years of persecution by the Philistines, Samson’s calling was that he would begin the deliverance of the Israelites from the Philistines when the time was right.
Unfortunately, his legacy is tied to a woman named Delilah, and he looks like anything but a deliverer. In fact, he looks very stupid and gullible because Samson has this uncontrollable attraction to the wrong sort of women. Reading his life story is like reading a Greek tragedy. When he’s not falling for the wrong women, he’s running from the Philistine guards who are hell-bent on capturing him because of his great strength.
Enter Delilah. Beautiful beyond description. Samson falls hard for her and is deliriously happy. But Delilah has a serious character flaw. When the Philistine guards hear of the budding Philistine-Israeli romance, they go to her and offer to pay handsomely if she’ll find out the secret of Samson’s strength. She is more than willing to make a few bucks and agrees. So much for true love.
Delilah tries to trick Samson into telling his secret. And each time she has the guards waiting to capture him when he shares his answer. Each time her plan fails, she figures out Samson has lied to her. And being the queen of guilt, she plays the “you don’t really love me” card. Heartbroken at the thought that he might lose her, Samson finally comes clean about the source of his strength. “…If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”
The deed is done. Samson’s hair is cut while he sleeps and his strength vanishes. The guards capture him while Delilah counts her money and waves goodbye. And just to add insult to injury, the guards gouge out Samson’s eyes. After all, a blind man really isn’t a big threat regardless of how strong he is, right?
Samson is presented to the Philistine king and there is great rejoicing in the kingdom, thinking the Philistine gods have delivered over one of their enemy’s greatest assets. Samson is shackled and forced to work in the mill grinding grain. And all the while, Samson’s hair is starting to grow again. And the Philistines forget that crucial detail. While he’s grinding away and his hair is growing, he has a few conversations with God about his sorry state of affairs. The conversation goes like this, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”
During one of the Philistine pagan festivals, the king decides it will be great fun to parade his prized prisoner in front of everyone. So, Samson is called up from the mill to stand and face the jeers of the crowd. Now, remember, Samson’s hair has been growing the entire time he’s been grinding grain. As he stands in between the pillars of the temple, he braces himself between two of the main support columns. And begins to push.
His strength restored, Samson brings down the house…literally….and crushes all the Philistines. But, in a strange twist of fate, he doesn’t survive.
We might look at Samson and think, what a colossal failure. He falls for the wrong women; is blinded by lust and cannot see her true nature. He gives in to temptation and reveals the one thing about himself that can defeat him. He’s captured by an arch enemy, blinded for real and forced to work in a Philistine prison. Humbled and fallen, he works as a slave….until God chooses the exact moment to reveal his sovereign power. Samson realizes his only hope is to trust the God who gave him the gift of strength to begin with. Through his sacrificial death, he took his failures and turned them into victory…ultimately fulfilling his prophesied destiny.
How often are we blinded by the things we think we want and cannot see the bigger picture? How often are we humbled by circumstance and think we’ve failed? How often do those circumstances serve to remind us that God is always in control and working behind the scenes to fulfill a much bigger plan that we could ever imagine…when the time is right?