Then the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no [children], but you shall conceive and give birth to a son.”
Samson may be the single best-known judge in the book of Judges.
The first recorded thing he did is that he saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines and said to his father, “Get her for me, for she looks good to me.” (Judges 14:1, 3). After that, he makes a bet over a riddle and ends up killing 30 people to keep up his side of the wager and walks out on his wife because she gave away his secret. He later goes back and finds that she married someone else and Samson ties together 300 foxes with torches between their tails and sets the poor animals loose in the Philistines’ grain fields. When the Philistines come to capture him for his arson, he takes a donkey’s jawbone and kills 1,000 men. Later in life, he visits a prostitute and carries away the city gates when people lie in ambush for him. At the tail end of his life, he loves Delilah and is betrayed by her. He loses his God-given strength and his eyes are gouged out. He grinds grain for the Philistines and is brought into their temple to amuse them before he pulls down the pillars and crushes 3,000+ Philistine lords and their wives to death, killing himself in the process. With a biography like that, does he have anything in common with Christ? Yes, actually.
Samson’s birth is announced by the angel of the LORD (Judges 13:3) to both his mother and father (Judges 13:11-14) and Jesus’ birth was announced to Mary and to Joseph.
Samson comes to his own (his wife) and his own does not receive him (Judges 15:1-2). In a similar way, Jesus came to His own (the Israelites) and His own did not receive him (John 1:11).
Samson was betrayed by one close to him … on more than one occasion. His riddle was betrayed by his first wife (Judges 14:16-17). The best man at his wedding is the person his first wife married when Samson walked out (Judges 14:20). And Delilah betrays Samson in ways for which I cannot find adequate description (Judges 16). Jesus was also betrayed by one close to Him (Matthew 26:14-16).
And my last observation is that Samson’s death brought deliverance (Judges 16:30). In his death, Samson killed more of the oppressors than he did in the entire rest of his life. It is by Jesus’ death and resurrection that I am saved.
There is more that could be discussed: the meaning of the names and how Delilah feels a bit like a parallel to believers, but the focus this morning is on Samson and the parallels between his life and that of Christ.
I do not want to apply this in the wrong way. It would be a simple thing to look at this and think that God can use any life, no matter how mangled and marred it might be and to use that reality as a license to go about twisting my life and my self into all the wrong shapes. It is true that God can use any life and that Samson is an excellent example of that. It is also true that this cannot be used for license to mess my life up and expect God to make good of it. As Paul wrote, What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2) The entirety of Romans 6 is an excellent read on the subject of license.
So, yes, God can use any life. It is also true that some lives are more effective than others. Samson delivered by killing. Jesus delivered by dying. Samson did what his desires told him and was constantly caught by his circumstances. Jesus did what His Father told Him and was Master over every circumstance. Samson ended his life maimed, miserable, and crushed. Jesus triumphed over death and ascended into glory. Which life would I rather live?
Thank You, Father, that You give us the judges for our instruction. Thank You for sending Your Son, the ultimate Judge, to show us what the other judges only hinted at. Please make my life like that of Your Son: a life submitted to You and lived for Your glory.