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Archive for May 24th, 2012

As I was recently walking a student through the story of Samson (Judges 13-16) I was reminded of how inhumanly strong Samson was, physically, and yet how humanly weak he was.

The story begins with a barren, childless couple. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, this woman is informed by an angelic messenger that she is to give birth to a son who would be part of God’s plan. She is told that she should not drink any alcohol (the first written advise that would eliminate the possibility of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder), and that her son should never have a haircut.

The first recording of Samson’s post-womb life is that he saw a pretty lady and told his parents to get her for him as his wife. They were not so happy, because they were Israelites and she was a Philistine (think Red Sox vs. the Yankees), but they did it.

The story is worth a read, I could see a miniseries or major action film come from this story, mostly because of his desires for the pretty lady. Suffice it to say that many people died.

Then he falls in love with a woman named Delilah, and she is his sweetest downfall.

As the story of Samson progresses, the Philistine rulers offer Delilah a deal she cannot refuse … lots of money if she can find the secret of his strength. She accepts.

Samson meets with Delilah a number of times. Each time she asks him the source of his strength (imagine lots of blinking eyelashes, and pouty faces). Each time he tells her a lie, until the final time when he tells her that the source of his strength is his hair.

He blew it! He, who was set aside God from before he was conceived, blew it for a pretty face (I am sure the attraction did not stop at the face) … again! What happened next is rather ironic, as the Philistines gouged out his eyes … hum, kind of makes me think of Exodus 21:24, “an eye for an eye.” His strength may have been his hair, but his weakness was most certainly his eyes, especially his eye for attractive women.

Samson was shacked and working in the prison. This was the lowest point in his life, but he was finally using his brain rather than his lower extremities to think with.

The Philistines were partying, celebrating, and sacrificing to their god, when they had Samson brought out from the depths to ‘entertain’ them.

Samson saw this humiliation as an opportunity to redeem his life.

He asked the servant who was guiding him to place him between two pillars of the temple, so that he could touch each one. The temple was said to have about three thousand people in and on it. Samson asked God for strength once more. His last words were, “let me die with the Philistines” (16:30), then he pushed with all his might, and the temple came down on all who were there.

Like Jesus, the other angelically announced baby boy, he gave his life, so that others might live. Unlike Jesus, he was fully man, but not also fully God, and his weaknesses are as memorable as his strength. Also, unlike Jesus, his purpose was to redeem his people through physical strength and death. Whereas Jesus purpose was to redeem all people through his loving sacrifice.

Samson was thought to be strong, but was only his strongest when he was weak. Jesus was thought to be weak, but his weakest human point was when he was most strong.

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