The Book of Judges: Samson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? The rebellion of Israel was at its peak. This final account of a deliverer reveals that Israel had gone far beyond flirting with the peoples of Canaan; now they were in nearly every way like the Gentiles. The LORD, however, had not changed and would judge the Philistines. Furthermore, the LORD would, through Samson, begin the process of delivering His people from the yoke of foreign oppression.

The man the LORD employees to punish the Philistines is the most depraved and ungodly of all the deliverers. Yet, Samson serves as an illustration of how rebellious and defiled Israel had become. Like Samson, Israel was set apart to be holy unto the LORD. However, instead of serving the LORD they pursued what was right in their own eyes.

Samson’s lust is meant to illustrate Israel’s pursuit of false gods. Furthermore, the chronology of his life vividly expresses the rebellious cycle of Israel, which had led to complete and utter compromise of their covenantal relationship with the LORD. The repeated phrase that Samson “went down” (14:1-7) to the Philistines should remind the reader of how Israel likewise pursued the world instead of the LORD. Yet, amid total depravity and utter chaos, God uses Samson to carry out His will. The LORD providentially uses Samson’s ignorant and insubordinate decisions to carry out His judgment on the Philistines. It is hard to imagine that God would use someone like Samson, but this is the message of Judges since Ehud: God uses unexpected people in unexpected ways.

SO WHAT? The LORD’s purposes will be fulfilled even if that means a deliverer such as Samson is empowered to do so. The calling and empowering of Samson by the LORD is in no way an endorsement of his behavior. It is, however, a stark reminder that no one and no nation can prevent the LORD’s perfect plan of redemption from coming to complete fruition. 

TEACHING OUTLINE

1. Samson’s Parents: The beauty of unknown people who serve the LORD amid darkness and depravity.

2. Young Samson: A man set apart for the LORD.

3. Adult Samson: A man pursuing the lust of the flesh and the desire of the eyes.

4. A compromised people and a lost identity.

5. Salvation through judgment and deliverance through death.

6. A faint foreshadow.

samsonNow what? The entire cycle of rebellion has culminated in the absence of repentance and the lack of godly leadership. Everyone, including the deliverer, is doing whatever is right in their own eyes. The postmodern ideology that has swept the modern culture has also created an environment where morality is subjective and truth claims are irrelevant. However, we must remember that God never rests from His saving and redeeming work, even in a postmodern era.

Study Questions (Judges 13:1-16:31) 

1. Is there any significance to the parallels between Samson and Samuel’s births (Judges 13:1-24; 1 Samuel 1:1-28)? If so, explain.

2. Compare the difference between the LORD’s silence when Jephthah speaks (Judges 11:30-31) and His response when Manoah prayed (Judges 13:8-10)?

3. What is a Nazarite (see Numbers 6:1-21)? In what ways does Samson violate the role of a Nazarite?

4. How does Samson’s life illustrate the downward moral and spiritual progression of Israel?

5. What or who was the true source of Samson strength?

6. What is the significance of Samson death?

28Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life. 31Then his brothers and all his family came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had judged Israel twenty years (Judges 16:28-31).

7. How does Samson’s death parallel Saul’s death (see 1 Samuel 31)?

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