When I was about five years old, I had a coloring book of Bible stories and for some reason the picture I remember most clearly was of burning torches tied to foxes tails.
That picture of course, was a depiction of the Biblical account of Samson and his revenge on the Philistines for giving his wife to another man.
Although I didn’t understand the context at five years old, that is my first memory of learning about the judge Samson.
Samson is best known for his defining characteristic of supernatural strength fueled by his long hair, and the disastrous results when Delilah shaved it off.
There is much more to the story of Samson than the Sunday school basics! And, there are much deeper lessons to learn from him than not to tell your secrets to an untrustworthy source. (Although that’s very good advice!)
Background on Judges 13-16
We read about Samson in Judges chapters 13-16. These three chapters detail the birth, life and dramatic death of this unique man who judged Israel for twenty years.
The story of Samson reads like a Shakespearean tragedy in some places, and like an adventure novel in others. It’s definitely not boring!
Samson was born during the time of the judges, after the Israelites entered the promised land and during the forty years when Israel was under the rule of the Philistines, a hostile and violent pagan tribe.
Samson is one of only four people in the Bible whose births were predicted to their mothers by an angel. The most well known of course, is Jesus, as well as Isaac and John the Baptist.
The angel also told Samson’s mother that Samson would be a Nazirite, a person dedicated to God. Nazirites were forbidden to cut their hair, drink alcohol, or touch a dead body, and this was the reason for Samson’s characteristic long hair.
What the Bible Says About Samson
In addition to three chapters in Judges devoted to his story Samson is also mentioned once more in Hebrews 11, among the list of faithful prophets and followers of God who endured suffering and accomplished great things by and for God’s glory.
As well as calling him to be a Nazarite, God also gave Samson incredible strength. One time he used that strength to kill a lion with his hands, and another time to kill 1,000 men with the only jawbone of a donkey. (Judges 15:14-17)
Samson took a wife from the Philistines against the advice of his parents. She then betrayed Samson’s trust by convincing her to tell him the answer to a riddle and then telling others the answer.
In anger, Samson left his wife. When he came back to see her again, her father had remarried her to another man and Samson angrily set fire to the Philistines crops. (As shown in my childhood picture of burning torches tied to foxes!)
Next comes the classic story of Delilah tricking Samson into telling her the secret of his strength and betraying him to the Philisitines.
The Philistines blinded Samson and made him their slave. But God gave Samson strength one last time, and he ultimately collapsed the pillars of a house onto 3,000 Philistines within it and died with them.
What Lessons Can We Learn from Samson
In first reading through his story, Samson honestly seems like kind of a jerk. He made bad choices, he was arrogant and selfish, and he disobeyed the rules God gave him.
And yet, God chose him to be Israel’s deliverance from the Philistines and granted him supernatural power.
So what leadership qualities did Samson display that we can learn from and seek to emulate in our own lives as Christian mothers?
For all of Samson’s faults, he did not give into fear of the task God had given him. Samson didn’t choose to be a Nazarite or to judge Israel, but he fearlessly (and sometimes recklessly) stayed the course God set him.
As Christian mothers in a broken world, there is no shortage of fears that prey upon our thoughts and minds. But we must not give into them!
Samson wasn’t intimidated by being only one man against a thousand enemies. Neither should we be intimidated by raising children in a fallen world where so many influences seem to be against us.
Despite Samson’s glaring faults, he was still a man of faith. Even though he often failed to give God the praise for his achievements, at the end of his life he still cried out to God – and God answered him.
What an encouragement to us as moms that even when we have bad days, even when we make mistakes and fail, God doesn’t give up on us! He will always answer us when we genuinely cry to Him.
Samson’s destiny was to save Israel from the Philistines, and that’s what he ultimately did.
However, Samson was not a humble hero. He was cocky and assumed that he could always get what he wanted. This is evidenced in Judges 14:5-19, in Samson’s attitude in posing the riddle to his friends.
He was also quick to anger, and recklessly killed thirty men of the town to repay his debt because of the riddle. The spirit of God gave Samson superhuman strength, but Samson sometimes used it selfishly.
Another warning we can take from Samson’s weaknesses is the importance of obeying God’s commands. Samson disobeyed his Nazarite vow when he touched the carcass of the dead lion and again when he told Delilah the secret of his strength, knowing that she would try to cut his hair.
Ultimately, Samson’s disobedience and anger led to the Philistines killing his wife. (Judges 15:5-6) Samson then took revenge by slaughtering the Philistines. It’s a vicious cycle of angry retribution by both parties through violence and trickery.
Samson clearly had a weakness for women as well, and sought out prostitutes against God’s law. He let his desires blind him to truth.
How can we relate to the life of Samson?
There are many lessons from the life of Samson that can apply to our lives as Christian women and moms.
His story is a warning against pride and taking for granted the blessings that God has given us. It can often be easy to strain against the constraints of motherhood, wanting our own way like Samson did. But his story reminds us of the dangers of disobeying God to follow our own desires.
It might feel easy to judge Samson’s character, but if any of our lives were written out I’m sure we would see plenty of choices that were just as selfish and devastating. We are all sinners in need of grace.
Jesus gives us that grace!
Just as God still heard and answered Samson’s final prayer despite his full-on sprint into destruction, he also hears us and will answer when we call to Him, no matter how many times we’ve messed up.
Another lesson that stood out to me from the story of Samson was the encouragement that God will always give us the means to accomplish what He calls us to do.
Samson was given a huge job, but God also gave him superhuman strength to do that job.
God will always give us the strength as mothers to raise our children in His ways.
Questions to Ponder
As I ponder the life of Samson, I’m humbled as I recognize myself in many of his failings. And I’m also inspired by the courage and faith, faulty though it may have been, that propelled Samson down the rocky road set before him.
These three questions come to mind when I think of what we can learn from Samson’s life:
- Am I pursuing God’s plan for my life or my own desires? Often the two can intertwine, but God’s will should always take precedence.
- How can I seek forgiveness and restoration from God and those I’ve hurt when I act out of anger?
- What steps can I take to build faith that isn’t intimidated no matter how many obstacles stand between me and what God is calling me to do?
Lord, give us the courage to fearlessly face our enemies and give us the strength to conquer in your name. Brace our faith with truth and don’t let us drift away from you!
Forgive us when we scorn your words in favor of our own wants. Thank you for never ending grace and forgiveness that is ours for the asking. Amen.
Guest Blogger Bio.
Hi, I’m Lieren! I’m a Jesus-loving girl living my childhood dream as wife to my best friend and full time mommy to our three children. I have a passion for helping women delight in the days they have with their little ones! I blog at Motherhood Beyond Survival, where I share practical advice offer encouragement and create a community to help you move beyond surviving motherhood to truly thriving in it. I’m not an expert; I’m a mother on the journey with you! My favorite things include getting lost in a good book, singing in the car, spontaneous adventures, and anything chocolate. Let’s connect, follow me on Facebook.