Meaning of name: Distinguished
Ancestry and family life: Samson was a Danite, the son of Manoah from the city of Zorah. His mother was barren. But the angel of the Lord (pre-incarnate Christ) appeared to her twice (the second time both of his parents were there). The angel of the Lord told them they would have a son and that this son was to be dedicated from the Lord from the time he was in the womb.
When and where he lived: Samson judged Israel from about 1085 to 1065 B.C. He lived in a chaotic time in which there was no king over Israel. Each person did what was right in their own eyes (normally evil!). The people followed a general pattern. First they would follow God. Then they would turn to idols and be enslaved. Then they would cry out to God. God would then raise up a judge to save them. For a while Israel would follow God and then they would turn to idols again. During Samson’s lifetime the people were slaves of the Philistines for forty years.
Events surrounding birth: The events surrounding Samson’s birth were amazing and miraculous. The angel of the Lord appeared to his parents, told them they would have a son, and commanded Samson’s mother regarding dietary restrictions. This is one of several instances in the Bible where God blessed a couple who were barren and allowed them to have a child (Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth). Normally when an angel made a special visit to a couple and miraculously let them have a child the child was used of God to accomplish a great purpose. This is true of Samson.
Training and occupation:
Place in history: Samson had a number of weaknesses, but God used him just as He used Jonah. When Samson came on the scene Israel was enslaved to the Philistines. God used Samson to free Israel and bring them out of bondage.
Special traits: Samson’s outstanding trait was his amazing strength. See Judges 14:6, Judges 14:19, 15:12-15, 16:3, 16:29-30. (Name some of Samson’s feats of strength)
Weaknesses: Samson had several weaknesses.
Lust (14: 9, 14:2-3, 7)- Lust plagued Samson all his life. He just did what looked good to him at the moment. His main concern was pleasing his flesh even if it meant breaking God’s law. Eating the honey, marrying the foreign unbeliever, going into the harlot, and then Delilah are all examples of Samson’s lust. (Give examples of Samson’s lust. What was the result?). In the end this lusting proved to be Samson’s downfall. His wife was not godly and caused him continued pain and distress. His riddle was guessed and his secret to strength was made known because of his lust and unconcern for God’s law.
Foolish/acted on instinct- Samson was not a wise man. He didn’t consider carefully the result of his actions. He didn’t concern himself with the future, caring only for the moment. Often he didn’t look to God for help or wisdom, relying on his own strength and will.
Courage- There is no doubt Samson was courageous. He single-handedly fought an entire nation and freed an entire country. Samson was not afraid to fight any amount of people because he knew the Lord was with him. In the end he gave his life fighting God’s battle.
Faith- When Samson did mighty acts it was because the Spirit of the Lord came on Him. See Judges 15:18-19. The end of his life was also his greatest act of faith. He had been weakened and his eyes had been gouged out. He was a prisoner and was being made a mocker of. But he turned to the Lord one last time for help and because of his great faith accomplished a great feat (15:28). He is mentioned in the Hall of Faith (Heb 11:32, 34).
Important acts and events: Killing thirty Philistines (14:19), torching the fields with three-hundred foxes (15:4-5), killing one thousand Philistines (15:14-15), bringing down the house with 3000 Philistines on the roof plus all inside (16:26-30).
How he died: Samson was finally captured by the Philistines because he gave in to the pestering of Delilah. They gouged out his eyes and worked at a grinder in prison (16:21). After some time they brought Samson out to make sport of him. He prayed for one last moment of strength and pushed the pillars, committing suicide while killing more than 3000 Philistines (16:26-30).
Lessons from his life:
Just as we learned from Jonah, God can use anyone to serve Him. Samson was fleshly, yet he did believe in and serve God. God used him in a mighty way. Just as Samson was willing to be used by God, we need to be to. A person full of faith can accomplish much!
See Exodus 23:33. God warned the Israelites many times that they should drive out the pagan nations from the land or they would be ensnared by them. Samson is a classic example of this. Though he had great faith he could not overcome the temptations around him. The proximity of temptation day after day caused him to fall into sin. Delilah’s endless nagging and teasing is much like temptation. So what lesson is there to learn from this? We need to separate ourselves from temptations and not listen to it. Samson fell because he listened to Delilah day after day.
Lust is a very dangerous temptation. Satan uses it to bring down great leaders and men full of faith. It is relentless. Though it may bring temporary satisfaction the final result is destruction of the one who gives in to it. God warns believers of this continually throughout the Bible and we would be wise to distance ourselves from tempting situations, pray to God for strength, memorize Scripture to combat it, etc. (2 Tim 2:22).
Marrying or yoking ourselves with an unbeliever will also have bad consequences. There will be tension and a pull between the two sides. Normally the unbeliever wins out and turns the believer away from God.
God watches over His people and carries out His plans. Israel was enslaved to the Philistines, but God planned to use Samson to free them, even from before he was born. God’s sovereignty is so absolute He can even work through our sins and weaknesses to accomplish His will.
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