THE BITTER END?
Lord, Your mercy toward a repentant sinner is wonderful.
Read JUDGES 16:23–31
The Death of Samson
23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,
“Our god has delivered our enemy
into our hands,
the one who laid waste our land
and multiplied our slain.”
25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.
When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led[a] Israel twenty years.
- Judges 16:31 Traditionally judged
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Give thanks that Jesus ‘is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.’ (Heb 7:25)
In 2019, the golfing world was amazed when Tiger Woods won The Masters, fourteen years after his previous victory in the tournament. In the intervening period he had been publicly humiliated by moral failure and had undergone surgery to repair serious and painful damage to his spine. There is no such recovery and resurgence for Samson, however. Approaching death, he is ‘blind, disheartened, shamed, dishonored, quelled’ (Samson Agonistes, line 563). However, there are glimmers of hope: he does finally pray to the Lord (28), as Israel has failed to do during his lifetime; his prayer is answered and, amazingly, he is included in the men of faith in Hebrews 11:32.
Typology is a strand of biblical interpretation which encourages us to see in Old Testament characters and actions some pale imitations or mysterious previews of our Lord Jesus. These are types of Christ, His footprints in these scriptures. It seems almost blasphemous to suggest that Samson is such a type, but we have already noted some similarities between his conception and birth and that of Jesus. In addition, both Samson and our Lord were empowered by the Spirit of God in their mission to save Israel, both were betrayed by someone close to them, handed over to Gentile occupying forces and mocked in their weakness. Samson’s death could be seen, like that of Jesus, to be a moment of victory, but their prayers and their attitude towards those who put them to death show that they have little in common here. Jesus’ victory is that of self-giving love; Samson’s is akin to that of a suicide bomber.
As we look back on the life of Samson, his deeply flawed character and his ultimately fruitless attempts to free Israel, is there a desire for a better Savior awakened in us? Thankfully, we know of such a One!
From our study of Judges, what insights have you gained concerning God, ourselves and Jesus?
Lord, give me a fruitful end to my life. When I leave this world, let it be known that I was a champion for You.
Book and Author Intros
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