The ideal bible college student
Samson may have been the first gym rat in the world. I can’t confirm this just yet, but when you read about his physical strength, you can’t help but picture him doing bicep curls all day long.
Samson was a man of great physical power, but also a man from a good family, and one who seemingly had God’s blessing on his life. Several times, we see the Bible mention God answering his prayers as well as blessing his physical efforts, even until his death.
If Samson were alive today, he would be a bible college student everyone would expect great things from! He was physically strong, had a go getter attitude, came up right, and seemed to have unlimited potential. But that, often, is a recipe for disaster.
Out of control
I struggled to find a way to describe Samson in one word. Impulsive? Rash? Untamed? Hasty? Probably all of those are good, but none of them, I feel, truly capture the essence of Samson. He is a man who goes after and does what he wants, as soon as he wants it, and doesn’t listen to anyone about it. Look at the following situations, and see how reasonably Samson reacted:
He sees a pretty girl, so he decides he needs to marry her, even though his parents don’t really want him to. Who cares? He likes what he sees, and he wants it.
He meets a lion? He probably hasn’t killed a giant, predatory cat recently, so why not start now?
He’s at a party? Let’s make wild riddles and bets to see how much smarter than you he is!
He lost his bet? Better kill 30 people to pay what he owes.
You gave his wife to his companion? This means he needs to light 300 foxes on fire and burn your corn down.
He just had time with a harlot? Let’s move the city gate a few miles down the road. Time for some weight lifting.
Quite simply, Samson was too powerful and skilled for his own good. His ability was outrunning his character, and he was out of control.
An avoidable ending
When you think about how Samson was captured, you almost wonder if a 5 year old is narrating this story! Basically, he takes a nap with a lady from a nation that hates his God, after telling her his only weakness. Then she betrays him to the bad guys. That’s deus ex machina in reverse if I’ve ever heard it! But, unfortunately, that kind of silly thing often happens to men who are too powerful for their own good, and won’t listen to anyone. They think they can handle dangerous situations, and put themselves on the precipice of disaster.
If the only way I could be defeated was to have my head shaved, it would seem to me that not letting that secret to the enemy would be advantageous. But Samson put himself in a situation where his secret was always in jeopardy, and Delilah, with her words, vexed Samson’s soul unto death and he eventually told her.
But, hey, there’s nothing Samson could have done, right? After all, he had no option but to be napping with Delilah, right? Of course he had plenty of other options! Literally anything else would have been a better idea! But, he’s Samson. He’s big, powerful and can handle this.
Some things to learn from Samson
1-No matter how powerful or blessed you are, you are not above falling into sin. This man literally killed a lion. He picked up a city door and walked off with it. He used a jawbone to kill hundreds of men. He was a tough guy. The Bible mentions the Spirit of the Lord moving Samson, and we see several times God answering Samson’s prayers. But he still fell into sin and made a grave error with a woman. No matter how powerful or blessed you are, you are not above falling into sin.
2-No matter how powerful or blessed you are, you still need accountability and mentoring. Samson could have done great things for God, and actually did some pretty memorable and good things. But he never would listen to anyone, or take advice, all the way back to when he got married. Which, incidentally, had he listened to his parents on who to marry, he might have had a much easier and useful life. But because he was hard headed and unteachable, he hindered his usefulness in the long run, and had more problems than was necessary.
3-No matter how powerful or strong you are, temptation is dangerous. Samson didn’t fall to Delilah’s trap the first time. Or the second. Or the third. But after all this, he never thought to leave this woman. She was obviously trying to have him harmed, but he just stayed right there in a dangerous situation. Scripture doesn’t actually say this is why, but I suspect that he thought he would keep on winning. And no matter what the temptation we may face, we are wrong to think we can beat them. Given enough time, we will all fall to temptation if we do not flee it, as Samson didn’t.
No man is invincible. Least of all those who think they are. Let us look at the example of Samson, and see, no matter how talented, strong, or blessed we are, that we are not above sin, needing mentoring or succumbing to temptation.