Samson [Săm’son]—distinguished, strong or sun-man.
One of the most renowned of the Hebrew judges, Samson was a son of the Danite, Manoah, who judged Israel for twenty years. He was unique in that his birth and manner of life were foretold. Supernaturally endowed, he killed a lion, thirty Philistines and one thousand men. He broke the strongest bands, carried off the gates of Gaza and pulled down the Temple of Dagon (Judg. 13:24-16:30). He is found among the illustrious in Faith’s Hall of Fame (Heb. 11:32).
As long as Samson remained a Nazarite he was unconquerable. He only of all the judges of whom we have any history, does everything single-handed and alone. Samson never called the armies of Israel together; he asked no assistance. What he did, he did alone in his own unconquerable strength. We are not told how he managed his court, nor about the wisdom of his judgments, nor about the manner of Israel’s life for a whole generation under her gigantic judge.
The complex story of Samson teaches us the evils of mixed or foreign marriages (Judg. 14:3), the laxity of sexual relations and of playing with temptation. C. W. Emmet says that Samson “teaches us that bodily endowments, no less than spiritual, are a gift from God, however different may be our modern conception of the way in which they are bestowed, and that their retention depends on obedience to His laws.”
But if Samson stands as an example “of impotence of mind in body strong,” he also stands, in Milton’s magnificent conception, as an example of patriotism and heroism in death, to all who “from his memory inflame their breast to matchless valour and adventures high.”
The deadly results of Samson’s self-indulgence after he broke his Nazarite vow, appear in their dark and ominous order:
Self-confidence: “I will go out” (Judg. 16:20).
Self-ignorance: “He wist not” (Judg. 16:20).
Self-weakness: “The Philistines laid hold on him” (Judg. 16:21).
Self-darkness: “They put out his eyes” (Judg. 16:21).
Self-degradation: “They brought him down to Gaza” (Judg. 16:1-3, 21).
Self-bondage: “They bound him with fetters” (Judg. 16:21).
Self-drudgery: “He did grind in the prison-house” (Judg. 16:21).
Self-humiliation: “Call for Samson, that he may make us sport” (Judg. 16:25, 27).
Samson stands out as a man of striking contrasts. He had a kind of Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde being.
V. He had a noble beginning but a sad end (Judg. 16:30).