Samson was one character in the bible that has honestly baffled me, not so much the character as the fact that he was apparently considered a man of God and a righteous person. Reading the bible and the story of Samson I can only come to one conclusion. Either we are missing some very important information about his story or his story was not translated correctly by a long shot. Lets take a look at his life as recorded in the Bible to see what kind of person he was.
Reading from Judges 13-16 lets look at the kind of things he has done that do not seem to be in line with what I at least see as a righteous man of God as typically described in the Bible. But also keep in mind that if anyone today behaved in the way that Samson did as portrayed in the bible I just cannot see God or any modern day Christians standing up to support him
Judges chapter 14
- He takes a wife who is not of Israel against his parents wishes
- He slays a lion who apparently threatened him and then took honey out of his carcass, which he deceives the people he associated with as to its source.
- After they answer his riddle, “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness” (which his wife pressured him into giving the answer) he fulfills his agreement of providing 30 changes of clothes for them by slaying 30 men and stealing from them their clothes and other spoils in his anger. The consequence it would seem was that he lost his wife.
Judges Chapter 15
- When he learns that his wife had been given to another man, he ties a fire-brand between the tales of 2 foxes and sends them into a farmer’s field to burn it to the ground destroying crops of people who did him no harm. It seems the Philistines retaliated by burning his wife and child which of course only angers Samson more
- The scriptures declare he will have revenge, and he slaughters them hip and thigh. The scriptures tell us that the “Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.” The men of Israel, which was not a small crowd was mentioned as 3,000 people asked him why he does such things to them and his simple response was “As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.” Basically he is rationalizing evil acts based on the wrongs he perceives were done unto him.
- The men bind him and take him to deliver him to the Philistines, he then breaks free of his binding and kills 1,000 men. This is hardly the kind of thing I imagine a man of God to be doing.
Judges Chapter 16
- First verses, Samson finds himself a harlot. Hooking up with hookers is hardly something a righteous man would do
- He vandalized the city by taking off the doors in the middle of the night.
- He then hooks up with another woman Delilah. No indication he was married to any of these woman. This was a bad idea as she finally got the secret to his strength which was never cutting his hair. We all know the story, he is captured and put to work.
Even in death though he had to take people with him, he takes more his death than the 1,030 recorded in life.
After looking at this brief account I cannot help but wonder why was the spirit of God with him throughout his life. From senseless killings to breaking the law of Moses, acts of terrorism (burning of crops and mass murders) against the ruling power and sleeping with prostitutes he certainly seems to be a man of questionable morals. Why did God bless him?
Many biblical scholars have agreed that Samson was a man of questionable moral character. His supposed supernatural strength derived from his hair that had never been cut seems to have the classic elements of some kind of fantasy mythical character. I have no doubt a man named Samson was real and that he had a reputation among the people of the time. But at the same time I also wonder just how accurate the account of his life really is. History, as I have learned is rarely what we are taught that it is, and like virtually all biblical history is near impossible to prove the accuracy of the tales told. Like many of those who are or were a threat to the state power of the time, their threat is often exaggerated to elicit support from the populace against this supposed threat. Hey may very well have been a threat to the Philistines, but I cannot help but wonder how much of his story is exaggerated as a tool just as current politicians use threats of terrorism in the same way.
To understand whether this is an accurate tale or not, we must rely on careful pondering of the scriptures and prayer so that God may reveal the truth of the matter to us. as James says in chapter 1 vs 3-5
In my experience the bible can be confusing and even in some cases contradict itself, largely in part to its numerous translations, interpretations, copies of copies etc …
Seeking to understand these stories is part of the christian, and religious journey we are all on. Keeping our faith in God and reading our scriptures regularly will bring further clarity to these questions we have.
And that is the Gospel according to Andrew