All the saints in the bible are shown with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Samson, however, doesn’t convey much good, until the end, when in a pitiful and abject condition he makes a stand as much for himself as for the LORD. It is a depressing story. Yet, he is named in that great list of faithful witness bearers at Hebrews 11. If for no other reason, the LORD is showing that every moment there is hope of making a difference, even if it is with our last bit of strength and breath. For an entire generation, 40 years, the Philistines ruled over the covenanted nation. Into this context the LORD blesses a couple, in Manoah and his wife with a son, who was to be dedicated solely to the LORD’s service from birth.
Right away we expect something really special from one created and called by the LORD from his birth. One may think of Moses, or later Samuel, or Jeremiah, but Samson’s story is far different. The LORD did indeed use him to punish the Philistines, but the life he lived seems to be compromised at every turn. Whether it was his wife or Delilah, the debilitating effect of the women in his life leads one to think that he would have been better of remaining celibate. In our bibles we have four chapters covering him, but there seems little of import, except to be as an example not to follow, but for showing, again, that one can still end well. It is telling, that one may enjoy the benefits of being born into a covenant community, and fail miserably.
One gets the clear impression that what concerned the LORD the most was idolatry. He was given strength to tear down the pillars, because the Philistines had attributed their victory over Samson to their gods. This is perhaps another sobering lesson. Beyond the LORD’s concern for his own, there is always this overriding intention to rebuke idolatry wherever it is found. All our actions stem from whether we have covenantal fidelity, a faith that shows itself in love and loyalty to the LORD, and to one another. Many wonder at the relative emphasis placed upon Samson compared with Othniel, but it doesn’t seem to be a concern for the narrator(s). Warnings sometimes teach better than anything else.