Judges 14 – I Samuel 2
28 And Samson called to Yahweh and said, “My Lord Yahweh, remember me! Please give me strength this one time, O God, so that I can repay with one act of revenge to the Philistines for my eyes.
One of the last judges of Israel we are introduced to is probably the most flawed and impulsive judge yet, Samson. He is a clear example of the most human of the judges, Samson was impulsive and naive, which led to his ultimate capture and death. Even while having these character traits, God gives him the gift of enormous strength. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God gave the gift of ultimate strength to the most flawed judge of Israel.
The first story we read of Samson is he sees a Philistine woman and immediately tells his parents he wants to marry the girl he just saw. His parents try to talk him out of it to no avail. After he marries the girl, he reveals the answer to a riddle, that he had wagered, to her because she nagged him for several days. His wife betrays him and reveals the answer to the men Samson had wagered, and this angers him so much he leaves her. This is only the first part of Samson’s long history of impulsivity. His impulses would cause several problems for him as he continued to rely on only his strength and juvenile wit.
Samson then falls in love with Delilah, the nail in his coffin. Philistine leaders approached her and bribed to betray Samson by revealing the source of his strength. She attempts to discover the secret time after time, but Samson lies to her several times and always escaping near capture. If Samson was naive when he told his wife the answer to his riddle, telling Delilah the source of his strength was sheer stupidity. She had been consistently setting him up, and he believed it was just bad luck people kept attacking him. Once he revealed to Delilah the source of his strength, after she nagged him for several days, she notified the Philistine leaders and cut off his hair.
Since before his birth God was with Samson, “Look, you will conceive and bear a son, so then, do not drink wine or strong drink, and do not eat anything unclean, for the boy will be a Nazirite of God from birth until the day of his death.” His eyes were gouged out, and he was then imprisoned and became a grinder in prison. At the end of Samson’s life, he is called upon to entertain his captors. After doing so, he calls upon God to give him enough strength to carry out his vengeance; he takes out two middle support pillars and brings down the temple on top of himself and everyone else there.
Beyond being the most flawed judge, Samson had the most tragic life as well. His impulsivity and naivete could only counterbalance the gift of immeasurable strength. I don’t think, however, that God wasted a gift on Samson. God gave Samson an ability to make him succeed as a judge regardless of his flaws. Jesus once said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, ” and the same can be said of those who carry immense struggles. Samson was strong, but his mind was weak. Let me co-opt what Jesus said and say this; it is the weak who need strength, not the strong. This tragic life of Samson resonates in our lives so well, where it is that we’re weak requires immeasurable strength till the very end.