About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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What Sunday School Didn't Teach You


I understand why Sunday school teachers simplify the Bible for children into what we call "Bible stories".  However, these "Bible stories" are both historical and factual events.  Unless we know all the facts, we become, as many are, Biblically illiterate.  This illiteracy appears in our "sundayschoolized" image of Samson.  Beyond his super strength and his relationship with Delilah, who was Samson?  Here's what you probably didn't learn about Samson in Sunday school.


Samson was a womanizer.  He was known to frequent pagan prostitutes. (Judges 16:1)  After being struck by the beauty of a young Philistine girl, he demanded that his parents "get her for him". (Judges 14:2)  No please.  No thank you.  Just "get her".  Later, a pagan woman named Delilah, who by the way, wasn't his wife, pleasured him on a nightly basis. (Judges 16)  This  weakness for women blurred any good sense of judgment he might have had.  He was deceived by his fiancé. (Judges 14:20)  Because of the naked beauty of another Philistine woman named Delilah, he was seduced into revealing the secret of his strength. (Judges 16)


Samson was an arrogant jokester.  With great pride he presented a riddle to the men in his wedding party. (Judges 14:14)  "Out of the eater, something to eat.  Out of the strong, something sweet".  Under pressure from these men, Samson's fiancé wormed the meaning to the riddle out of him. (Judges 14:16-17)  When it came to Delilah, Samson wasn't just messing around with her in bed.  He was also messing around with her head.  When asked about the secret of his strength, he teased her with tantalizing scenarios, making her feel quite foolish. (Judges 16:10)  It appears that Samson enjoyed making people look foolish by being the jokester.  In the end, he became the biggest fool. (Judges 16:25-28)


Samson was a man with an explosive temper.  After learning that his Philistine bride revealed the meaning of his riddle, he killed 30 Philistines. (Judges 14:19)  Sometime later he returned to visit his x-fiancé "in her bedroom".  Her father refused to let him in.  Samson was so mad that he burned some of the Philistine's grain fields, olive groves, and vineyards.  His rage didn't end until "he got revenge" by this "vicious slaughter". (Judges 15:1-8)  Samson ended up choosing to die as long as he could take some Philistines to death with him, and that he did. (Judges 16:26-30)


Samson wasn't an appreciative man.  After the Lord provided victory in battle for him he demanded the Lord give him water.  "Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised…"  Samson didn't want to fall into the hands of the uncircumcised, but he sure didn't mind falling into the arms and laps of their women. (Judges 16:19)  


There's more to Samson than our "sundayschoolized" image.  He was not the man of God he was called to be.  From conception, God called him to be a Nazirite. (Judges 13:2-5)  Nazirites were to serve God faithfully and whole-heartedly.  In obedience to the Law of Moses they were not to cut their hair, not to drink wine, not to eat unclean food, not to touch dead bodies, and never be involved with pagan women. (Numbers 6)  All that a Nazirite was to be, Samson wasn't.  He touched the dead. (Judges 14:8-9)  The text doesn't say it, but I'm sure he drank wine.  It would have been insulting to his Philistine bride's family if he didn't indulged during the 7 day wedding feast.  And, how could Delilah do all she did to him while he was asleep without waking him if he wasn't drunk. (Judges 16)  She cut his hair as he "slept on her lap". Why was Samson using a pagan woman's lap for a pillow?  What transpired on her lap before he fell asleep?  Even his parents wondered about his infatuation with pagan women. (Judges 14:3)


Samson had all the outward appearances of being a religious Nazirite, but wasn't.  He had some kind of faith, but he lacked faithfulness.  God did use him, not despite his poor character qualities, but because of them.  God's purpose for Samson was to create conflict between Israelis and Philistines, and what better man to use.  His hatred towards Philistine men and his lust for their women created the conflict that would bring judgment on Israel as a means of repentance.  As hard as it is to understand, God used Samson's ungodliness to accomplish His purpose. (Judges 14:4)  


The sad fact of the matter is that after Samson's hair was cut off, "he did not realize the Lord had left him". (Judges 16:20)  Such is the way with those who just have "a form of godliness". (2 Timothy 3:5)  They participate in the routine of  religion, but don't realize the Lord has left the building.   


Samson died in one last blaze of glory, but not before being made a pitiful looking fool.  While being incarcerated, his hair was cut and his eyes were gouged out. (Judges 16:21)  He was probably malnourished as he was paraded as a fool before the Philistines as a form of cruel entertainment. (Judges 16:25)  Knowing that he'd probably soon be killed, he asked God one last time for super strength to kill those who mocked him.  The Lord granted his request, but he, along with 3,000 Philistines, died a mutual death. 


The way Samson's life ended reminds me of the end  time Laodicean church. (Revelation 3:14-21)  Like Samson at the end of his life, this end time church is pictured as being "wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked".  Also like Samson, this end time church doesn't realize the Lord has left the building. (Revelation 3:17)  


I'm not really sorry that I've spoiled your "sundayschoolized" image of Samson. From this historical account we learn that God does, can, and will, use anyone to accomplish his purposes.  Just because God uses someone, doesn't mean he is a righteous man of God.  Outward appearances aren't always a good judge of true godliness.  The sooner we graduate from Sunday school the better.  


All of the above being said, we should know that Hebrews 11:32 lists Samson as a man of faith.  Despite his downfalls, and we all have downfalls, the author of Hebrews clearly portrays him as a man of faith who performed powerful deeds in the service of the Lord.  I'm sure there's much more to Samson's life that is recorded in Scripture.  Clearly, God chose Him to do His will, and, He can just as easily choose you or I to do His will as well.      


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