Samson is Like, and Unlike, the Church
“The time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson … who through faith … from weakness were made strong” (Hebrews 11:32-34 RKJV).
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There were friendly Philistines in Abraham’s day. Egyptians had colonized Caphtor (Crete), and thereafter Cretans colonized the modern Gaza Strip (Genesis 10:13-14, 21:32, Deuteronomy 2:23, Jeremiah 47:4). More Cretans came later (BC 1615? and 12th century) until the Philistines oppressed Israel forty years in Samson’s time. Samson was an Israelite, the son of Manoah, of the tribe of Dan. He became a judge, deliverer, or liberator, of God’s people Israel from the neighboring Philistines. He was born in the 12th century, BC, in Zorah, west of Jerusalem, about halfway to the Philistine coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Samson’s birth was announced beforehand by the angel of Jehovah to his mother, who had been barren. The angel told her that she would have a son, that this son should be a Nazirite from his birth, and that the LORD would use him to begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. We may contrast Samson and the Philistines.
Comments from our research: This was from God. Let us consider if Samson, helping the oppressed, is more positive than Philistine hatred of Mosaic Law, Israel’s judges, and especially Jehovah, who harassed them. (We might well heed Reprint 5613:3-5.) When asked his name, the angel said: Wonderful (Judges 13:18 KJV, margin; compare Isaiah 9:6). Perhaps this was the last direct communication between our (pre-human) Lord and any of his people Israel. Samson’s mind and body may have been energized by the Logos himself.
Samson the Nazirite — Judges 13:11-18
Nazirites were under a special vow to God to restrain their carnal nature. This showed the people that if they would receive God’s blessing, they must deny self and govern themselves to be faithful as God’s covenant people.
Comments from our research: Israel of old was devoted to serving God, build His kingdom, and live on earth forever (after an earthly resurrection). Samson could have conformed to normal life under the Mosaic Law, been a Nazirite, and placid, but the Lord’s intent for Samson was different. Samson was a man of faith. He recognized that he was to assist his people Israel against the Philistines, and he fought effectively. (In contrast, some shortcomings of the Gospel Age Church have been inertia, being neither hot nor cold, and failing to eat spiritual meat in due season, doctrinal and practical instruction.)
Samson’s Strength — Judges 13:24
The amazing strength that Samson exhibited at various times in his career was not because he was a natural giant, but because the spirit of the Lord came upon him to accomplish great deeds.
Comment: Samson’s deeds exhibited the strength of God on his behalf. The Philistines, with gods of stone, began to fall by the thousand to Samson (Judges 15:15). This encouraged the Israelites that God was for them. Samson’s exploits also give confidence and encouragement to believers now, that God’s power will be with us to overcome our adversaries also — the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Commandment vs. Corruption
Israel had again done evil in the sight of God and had begun forty years of Philistine oppression when Samson was born.
Comment: The younger Jews may have especially done evil by worshipping Philistine gods such as Dagon, and perhaps Baal and Ashtaroth (Judges 10:6). The pagan worship of these gods sometimes involved demon worship, child sacrifice, and fertility rites. All of this was banned when God said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
Samson fought militarily, with a holy mission against evil. Christian brethren today have a great scriptural library to fight spiritism peacefully, with Christ’s spirit, and by our very best example. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds … bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4,5).
Samson Moved by the Lord’s Spirit — Judges 14:15
Samson was born, and “the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol” (Judges 13:24,25). Comment: It was God’s will to turn tables on the Philistines and trouble them, to break the enemy’s assets, to encourage the Israelites and relieve their burdens. The Philistines had hardened metal swords and chariots but denied them to the Israelites (1 Samuel 13:19). Samson used even the jawbone of an ass for a weapon (Judges 15:15). His victories now encourage Christians to overcome. They also encourage natural Israel in their miraculous deliverances in 1948, 1967, etc., and yet to come in Armageddon when God will fight for Israel “as in the day of battle” (Zechariah 14:3).
Samson, Just a Slave to Passion? — Judges 14:15
Was Samson a slave to passion? Against the objections of his parents, he recklessly insisted on marrying a Philistine woman of Timnath, not far from their own hometown, Zorah.
Comment: Samson evidently was naive with women. But God overruled his weakness for Israel’s good (Judges 14:4). It brought Samson into close contact with the leading Philistines, who thereafter suffered at Samson’s hands.
Samson Kills For Clothes — Judges 14:15-19
At the wedding feast, Samson challenged the guests to solve a riddle, betting that if they guessed it he would give them 30 changes of clothing. By threatening the life of his bride, they forced her to extract the answer from him. Having been tricked, Samson in revenge killed 30 Philistines of Ashkelon and gave the guests the victims’ garments, thereby keeping his word while depleting the enemy.
Comment: The treacherous manner in which the Philistines created trouble showed their character. Samson’s response was overruled to encourage Israelites to trust God’s power.
We live in a different time, under a different covenant, with different standards. We are called by the Prince of Peace to live in peace and cultivate the graces of the Spirit (Matthew 5:1-12). However, those consecrated unto death, who gave up life rights on earth, today must use as much energy, dedication, and care as Samson, if not more. They might be sent forth as lambs before wolves, to learn “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Then they will be worthy to reign with Christ. Successful candidates for Christ’s Bride, the Lamb’s wife, will finish their race with victory in the strength of God. The larger number of the Great Company, virgins her companions, will have their robes washed, thence to stand before the Throne.
Judges like Samson will be raised with perfect human powers. Perhaps they will lead Israel through their Armageddon crisis (Micah 5:5, Zechariah 12:10), and then they will administer the resurrection program. If some in Israel dare try to reclaim leadership from them; then all such shall hear: “depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out [of authority]” (Luke 13:27,28).
The completion of Christ’s Church is key to the reward for Samson and all other Ancient Worthies. They, such as Samson, from weakness were made strong. Some were stoned, sawn asunder, poorly clothed, destitute, afflicted, and tormented. Of whom the world was not worthy. These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise (heavenly resurrection), God having provided some better thing for us, that they, without us should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:33-40). Christ and his Church will resurrect these noble ones to be “princes in all the earth” (Psalm 45:16). Isaiah, Moses, Joshua, Jeremiah, David, John the Baptist, Samson, and perhaps thousands more, will be raised to help Israel and all the world rise and walk up a Highway of Holiness to perfection.
Samson at Gaza — Judges 16, 17 At Gaza, Samson was trapped within the gates, but he broke out at night, uprooted the heavy city gates, and derisively put them up on a hill. Then Delilah deceived him, and cut his hair; enabling Philistines to put out his eyes and put him in jail. Though, blind, he saw an opportunity to overcome 3000 Philistine leaders. In his dying act Samson killed more enemies than he had slain during his life. (See also: www,biblearchaeology.org, Bible and Spade, “Between the Pillars,” Winter 2005.)
The Lessons of Samson are for Us
We too, as Christians, have enemies that must be slain- — not persons, but traits within us of the old, fallen nature. These are the “Philistines” within us. It takes energy and vigor to do that. We can be inspired by the strength and vigor of Samson to overcome our enemies: the world, the flesh, and the adversary. In so doing, the overcoming Bride class, associated with Christ, prepares to bring in dynamic changes to the world in fulfilling God’s Divine Plan.
How is this slaying work accomplished? With agape love, the brotherhood, each Truth household, must slay the Philistine in ourselves. We must also energetically seek out those who are yet to be called, even to the last member, and encourage them also to slay their old creature and thereafter feed their New Creature.
There are helpful lessons in Judges 13-17 for end-times consecrated Christians.
(1) Samson is both like and unlike the Church. “Among those born of women there has not arisen one greater than John the Baptist: but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11 NKJV). John and Samson were developed under the Mosaic Law, while the Church is developed under the Sarah feature of the Abrahamic Covenant, a covenant of grace.
(2) Both dispensations require serving God fervently, pointedly, and at the cost to ourselves.
(3) All Scripture inspired of God is to be received with thanks and heeded, as in earlier times.
(4) Choose confidants carefully, and trust any given you by the Lord. “Test the spirits, whether they be of God” (1 John 4:1 NKJV). God led Samson to seek after Philistine women, however, He urges the Church to avoid the world.
(5) When an occasion arises to keep a secret for protection of others, say to self, “Therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed” (Isaiah 50:7-9).
(6) Philistines broke up Samson’s marriage and he was depressed. Yet Samson kept his composure and went with firefoxes to destroy much of the riped crop for the Philistine military food supply. He wasted no time and energy. Samson kept his focus like a good soldier.
(7) Samson saw early what the Lord expected of him. He killed a young lion, passed by it days later, and saw a thriving beehive in the dried-up carcass. So his riddle was: “Out of the eater came forth food, and out of the strong came forth sweetness” (Judges 14:14 ASV). The lion Samson killed dried up, but became a honey-filled house for bees. Israel could be that happy, busy beehive. While Samson died fighting like a lion, he could give a honey-sweet victory toward Israel’s future, and typically toward
establishing Christ’s kingdom.
(Editor’s note: Samson’s great act of courage came at the cost of his handicapped life. Apparently, this final act typifies that Armageddon will come just when the faithful Church on earth ends.)