Re-Illumination of Samson

The name of Samson is very familiar to us. This may be because his story was filmed and we have heard stories about him in Sunday school. The highlight of them will be the sad story of his love for Delilah, a harlot.

This story is seen as marring his reputation as a judge, chosen by God. So in general, we think that Samson was elected by God, but then was enticed by a harlot and disobedient to Him. As a result he died a miserable death.
He, therefore, has become known as a person who should not to be imitated.

However, to tell the truth he was one of the elders of faith who obeyed His will through and through. Now, we will consider him in this light.
Read Judges.

[Judges 16:15-21]
15 And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth. 16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him,so that his soul was vexed unto death; 17 That he told her all his heart,and said unto her. There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. 18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. 19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. 20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. 21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house. 


Records About Samson in the Scripture

Judges Chapters 13-16 give the story of Samson, a Nazarite. The name Samson means the ‘sun,’ and he was a judge of Israel for twenty years. Manoah, his mother, had no child but she heard from the angel of the LORD that she would bear him, and she also knew that he should be a Nazarite who would deliver Israel from the Philistines. The Nazarite is a consecrated man; he should drink no wine nor strong drink, no razor should touch his head, and he should not eat unclean things. God chose him from birth and led him to live a hallowed life.

Returning to the original passage, Samson loved a Philistine woman named Delilah who lived in the valley of Sorek. However, she is promised a reward of eleven hundred pieces of silver from each of the lords of the Philistines, if she can find out the secret of his great strength. Despite her repeated attempts to get the information from Samson he lies and misleads her.

When she realized that Samson did not want to let her know the secret of his strength, she pressed him by saying “How can you say you love me when your heart is not with me?” His soul was sorely vexed. Finally, he told his secret to her; a razor had not come near his head since birth for he had been a Nazarite unto God. He would be-come weak if his head was shaved.

Accordingly, he got faced with a miserable situation. When he slept upon her knees, she called for a man, caused him to shave his head, and they took him. The Philistines put out his eyes, bound him with fetters of brass, and had him grind in the prison house. However, the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaved, and the Philistines gathered together in the temple of Dagon and wanted Samson to entertain them in commemoration of his capture.

At this time, he prayed to God saying “I may be avenged of them for my two eyes,” and he took hold of the two middle pillars, braced himself against them and pushed them down with his great strength. He and all the Philistines in the temple were killed.

A Point to Think About

Samson, the hero, having led the Israelites triumphantly, died a miserable death as a consequence of loving Delilah. Upon reading his story, we conclude that this is a natural consequence for a man who violated God’s commandment not to commit adultery. We then accept the lesson that we should obey the words of God.

In another way, we take Samson’s story as a lesson that women entice men and men should therefore avoid them since they have the potential to bring ruin and the destruction of families.

I would like readers to consider three questions regarding such a superficial interpretation of the story of Samson.

First, the Scripture is the word of God and so it will have far deeper significance than a superficial interpretation? After all we can learn such lessons in our everyday life without the help of the Scripture.

For example, we read in newspaper or magazine articles that a certain famous entertainer was taken to court for adultery and was ruined. All of us can learn from this. If so, what the Scripture teaches and what the newspapers report give us substantially the same lesson of not committing adultery. However, will not the word of God provide a far deeper meaning than the lesson of preventing adultery? This is the first question.

The second question is about the viewpoint of the writer of He-brews. We think of Samson as the man who disobeyed God’s commandments, lived with a harlot, and was finally ruined. However, the writer of Hebrews describes him one of the elders of faith. Read the verse below from Hebrews.

[Hebrews 11:32]
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

Is the Samson we know different from the Samson the writer of Hebrews describes? Did the writer of Hebrews read the record that Samson lived with the harlot Delilah? Or, did he call him the ‘elder’ because he was a negative example we should not follow? If the Scripture says that he is an elder, and we say otherwise, then it is we that are mistaken. We are mistaken somewhere in appraising him.

Third, he was a Nazarite:

[Judges 13:5]
For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

He was a man of faith walking with God as a Nazarite, and he was a great servant that He used. Could such a Samson fall? The actual mission given to him was to save the Israelites out of the hand of the Philistines, and it was achieved by his killing far more Philistines than ever when he pulled their temple down on their heads. Is it cor-rect to say that he fell who was a Nazarite unto God from the womb and did all the things assigned to him? This is the third question.

Samson Who was Just

He was not a man chastened by God because he was enticed by a harlot. He walked with God from the beginning to the end including during his relationship with Delilah. Some may raise questions about what I describe. “Does He let sin happen?” “Did He allow him to lead a fast life with a harlot?” Yes, He did. He allowed him to fall in love with her in order to save Israel.

God Lets Samson Marry a Woman in Timnath

In order to understand God, we should first read Chapter 14 of Judges carefully. Here, Samson wanted to marry a woman of Timnath in the land of Philistines. His parents were entirely against him because the people of Israel were not allowed to take a wife from among uncircumcised heathen. What is worse, the Philistines were the enemies of the Israelites. In spite of all these environmental handicaps, he married her.

Had we been there, we too would have been against his marriage to the woman of Timnath since it was contrary to the law. However, the Scripture clearly says that he married her according to His will. Consider the following passage:

[Judges 14:3-4]
3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. 4 But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.

His marriage ran counter to the law of Israel. Did he not know this? Obviously he did. As a Nazarite, he would naturally have asked God about his marriage to a Philistine and God gave his blessing. So he tried to marry her. However, his parents had no idea of this and so they were not with him according to the law. However, he could pursue his marriage even against the law because God had answered him.

Once having understood this, we can see that his marriage to her is no sin at all. Neither had He turned aside from the law, since God who has made the law allowed him to marry her. In addition, the true meaning of the law is different to what we understand literally. Anyway, as consequence of his marriage, he defeated the Philistines with great slaughter and thus fulfilled the mission that God had given him.

To explain further, God sought an occasion against the Philis-tines by allowing Samson to marry the woman of Timnath. Read Chapters 14 and 15 in Judges. Samson gets married to her and makes a seven-day feast. He puts forth a riddle to the thirty Philistine companies that have joined the wedding feast, and this must be solved before the feast ends. But they could not unravel it.

So, they threatened the bride on the seventh day, and weeping, she pressed him for the solution to the riddle. When Samson told the answer to her out of pity, she told it to the wedding guests. And they told it to Samson within the period.

Knowing that they had intimidated his wife to get the answer, he killed thirty Philistines, took their clothes, and gave a change of garments to the guests who had answered the riddle. His wife was then given to another man. When he later visited his wife again, her father refused to give her to him. Angry at the father, he caught 300 foxes, tied them tail to tail, attached burning torches to each pair and set them loose in the Philistines’ grain fields. The resulting fire destroyed grain and corn fields as well as vineyards.

The Philistines got angry and burned the bride and her father to death. Samson revenged himself on the Philistines and killed them with a great slaughter (Jdg15:8). If you are interested in the next story about him, I want you to read the Bible by yourself.

As you can see, Samson’s marriage with woman of Timnath triggered a chain reaction that resulted in him killing a large number of Philistines, the enemies of Israel. For the salvation of Israel, the chosen ones, God allowed him to marry her to kill more of the enemy.

Love with Delilah Also, God Allowed

As a Nazarite, as in the case of the woman of Timnath, Samson also definitely sought God’s will in the matter of Delilah. It was natural for him to seek God’s will before he had a date with Delilah, a gentile and a harlot. He could love her because God allowed him to love her.

We can conclude this if we consider that he obeyed God regarding his marriage with the woman of Timnath. These two cases progressed in the same way. Marriage with the woman in Timnath is a sign of loving Delilah. There are many reasons why I can adopt this viewpoint.

First, both the women he loved were Philistines, or gentiles. He could neither love them nor marry them according to the law. Second, he loved them wholeheartedly. As he told the woman of Timnath the answer of the riddle when she pressed him, he told Delilah the secret of his strength knowing he would die.

These two cases indicate that he loved these women wholeheartedly. Third, just as in the marriage to the woman of Timnath caused a chain reaction to kill Philistines with great slaughter, his love for Delilah generated another chain reaction of destruction of Philistines.

When Samson got married to the woman of Timnath, it was precipitated by the plan of God to defeat the Philistines. This is also applicable to his love for Delilah. This too was caused by the God’s plan for the destruction of the Philistines.” When I use the expression “It is caused by the plan of God,” I mean that he had no sin.

If you guess that he was chastened for the sin of loving Delilah, and so his eyes were put out and he had to grind in the prison, then where can you find the verse that he was chastened by the sin of loving the woman in Timnath? You can find it nowhere in the Scripture. Samson loved Delilah according to God’s will, and this cannot be chastened. Otherwise, what do the sufferings of Samson mean? I will explain it later.

Samson’s True Love

What was his love like? Did he try to enjoy himself by carelessly saying, “She is just a harlot”? No. He loved her until he died. He already knew there would be no way out if he told her his secret. Although he cherished her and loved her, he could not tell it to her. He dodged her and delayed time and again.

He said, “If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried,” “If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied,” and “If thou weavest the locks of my head with the web.” When he said such childish things, he did not mean to play a game of questions to kill time. He tried to stall knowing that he would die if he gave away the secret and that she would leave if he would not. He told her such answers, full of distress, not wanting to let her leave.

However, she urged him by saying that he teased her because he did not love her. The Scripture says what he felt at that time as follows:

[Judges 16:16]
And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death.

He was troubled to death while she pressed him and he could not tell the secret. He loved her truly and he gave himself up to her. Finally, he revealed his heart to her and he consequently faced a miser-able situation.

We usually say that we should stay away from harlots, and conclude that all the things that happened to Samson occurred because he was reckless in his love for Delilah. However, as some of you may know, we may happen to love a woman we should not love no matter how cautious we are. What can we do then? The only thing we can do is to love. Samson loved her in this way.

Plan of God

Then, what plan did God want to realize through Samson? God knew that if he loved Delilah, he would not be able to get away with it and that he would have a hard time. Nevertheless, He worked with purpose so that all these things that happened to Samson would result in the fulfillment of God’s plan for the destruction of the Philistines, the enemies of Israel.

By allowing Samson to have a relationship with Delilah, God planned to destroy many more Philistines than had already perished as a result of Samson’s tragic marriage to the woman of Timnath. As He willed, by collapsing the temple of Dagon, Samson killed more Philistines than during the rest of his life (Jdg 16:30). God’s plan for him was fulfilled at this time. God used him in this way. This is how God uses His people.

However, nowadays we believe that we are being used by God if we do not become involved with the Delilahs of this world. This story is not merely about God choosing Samson to be a merciless killer of Philistines. It is a spiritual allegory. Israelites refer to the believers of today, the chosen people of God, and the Philistines symbolize the desires of our human, sinful nature, and are therefore, obstacles to faith.

So to destroy the Philistines means to remove various elements of sin from the Israelites so that God may purify their faith. The more completely they are destroyed, the better it is for the people of Israel. This refers to the spiritual process occurring in us while we are being healed by Jesus in our life.

Samson, the Elder

God prepared a plan to use Samson to save the Israelites. The plan required him to suffer and die a painful death. Superficially, his death resulted from the love of Delilah. So, it appears as though Samson’s death is part of God’s chastening and wrath. However, this is not correct. All these things were planned and worked by Him. It is because God does not chasten him for loving Delilah since Samson was a Nazarite, walking with Him always and already dead to the law.

Today, many people enjoy the pleasures of harlots, but they do so being led by sexual desires irrespective of His will and this will inevitably invite God’s judgment.

In contrast to them, Samson who represents the born again man, is essentially different from those who are under the law. He undergoes a series of processes under the control of God and delivers the Israelites out of the hand of the Philistines through his relationship with Delilah and his consequent death. Because of this, the writer of Hebrews calls him the elder who was worthy to be used to carry out God’s will.

God will work today in the same way that He delivered Samson into the hands of the Philistines. He first sends born again men to save those who are taken by the wicked power. In this instance, as the wicked power that ensnares the people of God is destroyed perfectly, they come nearer to salvation.

During this salvation process, He does not spare the life of born again men, and this is exemplified in the case of Samson. It is further clarified by the example of His allowing Jesus to be crucified for our salvation.

Samson’s “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani”(Judges 16:20-21)

People generally think that Samson underwent sufferings because he was disobedient to God, and so they ascertain that they are right by citing the passage, “And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him” (Jdg 16:20b) and then conclude: “Look! Samson sinned against God, and so He left him!” This is not true. Samson is the type of Jesus Christ who is to come. That is, he functions as a shadow of the reality to come. As Jesus had no sin, Samson also had no sin. The Scripture speaks of his birth as follows:

[Judges 13:2-5]
2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. 3 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 5 For, lo, thou shalt con-ceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

His birth is similar to that of Jesus Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary who was with child of the Holy Spirit. Further, the word, “He shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” says in advance that Jesus will finally come to save us from our sin. When Samson finally pulls down the temple of Dagon to annihilate the evil power, it foreshadows Jesus crucifixion that pulls down and destroys the works of the devil and its idol temple built inside us.

In the same way, we believe that Jesus experienced crucifixion be-cause He sinned. If I say so, some believes may say, “The Jews may think so, but I don’t.” What they are saying is that they believe that Jesus suffered without sinning. Do they really think in this way? We all know that Jesus in his time on earth was a good person whom we should love and honor. We are on His side. However, this is because we simply think of Jesus as a figure in history.

When the time comes, Jesus will have to rebuke us in earnest to heal us in our present life on earth. And then we will refuse to listen and curse Him. We will furthermore probably do this because Jesus comes to us as an ordinary man, a carpenter maybe, with the Word in him. Think about the apostles Peter, Paul, John and so forth that come to us as ordinary men, but with the Word in them.

Do you think that you can tell a man with the Word in him from a man without? You dare not say yes! If you do not know Jesus who comes to you as an ordinary man in the flesh, then your will treat Him carelessly. This will be especially so, when He seeks to correct you in your understanding of the Word, not to mention, when He rebukes severely to correct those who are possessed of sin (Rom 7:21-24, Mat 16:23).  

For example, when the pastor with the Word in him rebukes you, you will not be able to see Jesus in him, but only judge him in the ‘fleshly’ manner. So, you will insist on your own opinions that are different from those of the pastor, and will probably hold a grudge against him.

When some mishaps happen to him, you will think in yourself “He did me wrong, and so he deserves it. God punished and he paid for that.” You would not have criticized him so if you had known that the word from the pastor had Jesus in it. Therefore, what Isaiah said is correct. We consider Him stricken and afflicted of God.
Read Isaiah.

[Isaiah 53:4]
Surely he hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Just as the Jews failed to recognize Jesus who came to them as an ordinary man, we also cannot recognize Him coming to us as an ordinary man. Since the LORD left Samson, he suffered the agony of having his eyes put out, but as a result, he could destroy many of God’s enemies thereby deliver the Israelites. So did Jesus. When He died on the cross, God turned away and He suffered the torment of crucifixion. However, He saved many people because of it.
Read Matthew.

[Matthew 27:46]
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Epilogue

God did work through Samson and Jesus following the same principle. In detail, He delivered many people based on their sacrifices. We love and praise Jesus, but very few praise Samson. However, as a matter of fact, Samson is the same Saviour as Jesus. If you say you can understand who Jesus is but you cannot understand who Samson is, it means that you know neither of them.

Samson is a righteous man and an elder of the faith. Now, let us bury our past when our eyes were blinded by human moral criteria that led us to conclude that Samson merely loved a harlot. As result of this, we misinterpreted the story of Samson and consequently failed to recognize him for whom he really was. Let us restore his reputation.

*Taken from “Fresh Eyes to Read the Bible – The Real Jesus”

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