It is sad to be remembered for what one might have been. Samson had tremendous potential. Not many people have started life with credentials like his. Born as a result of God’s plan in the lives of Manoah and his wife, Samson was to do a great work for God – to “begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines”. To help him accomplish God’s plan, he was given enormous physical strength.
Because Samson wasted his strength on practical jokes and getting out of scrapes, and because he eventually gave it up altogether to satisfy the woman he loved, we tend to see him as a failure. We remember him as the judge in Israel who spent his last days grinding grain in an enemy prison, and we say, “What wasted potential!”
Yes, Samson wasted his life. He could have strengthened his nation. He could have returned his people to the worship of God. He could have wiped out the Philistines. But even though he did none of those things, Samson still accomplished the purpose announced by the angel who visited his parents before his birth. In his final act, Samson began to rescue Israel from the Philistines.
Interestingly, the New Testament does not mention Samson’s failures or his heroic feats of strength. In Hebrews, he is simply listed with others “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised”, and in other ways were given superhuman aid. In the end, Samson recognised his dependence on God. When he died, God turned his failures and defeats into victory. Samson’s story teaches us that it is never too late to start again. However badly we may have failed in the past, today is not too late for us to put our complete trust in God.
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Dedicated to God from birth as a Nazirite
- Known for his feats of strength
- Listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11
- Began to free Israel from Philistine oppression
Weaknesses and mistakes:
- Violated his vow and God’s laws on many occasions
- Was controlled by sensuality
- Confided in the wrong people
- Used his gifts and abilities unwisely
Lessons from his life:
- Great strength in one sea of life does not make up for great weaknesses in other areas
- God’s presence does not overwhelm a person’s will
- God can use a person of faith in spite of his or her mistakes
- Where: Zorah, Timnah, Ashkelon, Gaza, Valley of Sorek
- Occupation: Judge
- Relative: Father: Manoah
- Contemporaries: Delilah, Samuel (who might have been born while Samson was a judge)
Key verse: “You will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5).
His story is told in Judges 13-16. He is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:32.