SAMSON’S DEATH: REPENTANCE, GRACE AND AN IMPERFECT VICTORY (JUDGES 16: 23-31)
The lords of the Philistines gather to celebrate the victory of their god, Dagon, over Yahweh and his champion, Samson (Judges 16:23). It is at this joyous occasion that they called for Samson to be brought out for their entertainment (Judges 16:24-25).
Samson leans again the pillars of the house (Judges 16:27) and proceeds to pray. This prayer in Judges 16 is vastly different from the one he utters in Judges 15. In Judges 15:18, he did not refer to God and even demanded that God provide water to quench his thirst. However here, Samson address the “Lord God” and sought His help just this one last time. This is a completely humble prayer of a man that sees his dependence on God.
Samson prays that God grant him strength and leans with his weight on the pillars, causing the house to fall upon all who were there (Judges 16:28-30). Samson dies with the Philistines, and kills more in his death than in his life (Judges 16:30).
What did God achieve in Samson’s life and death for Israel? Through this, it was seen that the God of Israel is greater and more powerful than Dagon. This also dealt a blow to the Philistines, for this is the last time that the Philistines are mentioned in the book of Judges. They are not a threat to Israel until 1 Samuel. The deliverance promised to Israel and told to Manoah and his wife came true.
But the book of Judges does not end here. Judges 17-19 show how there are still problems in Israel. While an external threat had been dealt with in the death of Samson, readers of the Bible are meant to see how there is a deeper internal problem plaguing Israel that their judges and saviors are unable to address. The Bible never claims that our problems are outside of us, but continues to show us how God’s people ultimately need to be saved from themselves, namely, their own hearts.
Samson was not the true saviour that Israel needed. Years later, another baby came as promised to his parents. He grew up obeying God and he lived in the public eye, ministering and teaching wherever he went. Like Samson, his conflict with the leaders escalated, and one day, he is betrayed by someone he loves. He is seized, humiliated, and ridiculed and pays with his life. He also achieves more in his death than in his life because this Savior dealt with our greatest problem — sin. Samson’s story is not meant to be an example of how to live a good, moral life. In fact, it even cautions us about building our lives on our achievements and being blinded by our pride. Rather,
Samson points us to a better Savior who came to deliver not only Israel, but all mankind. What is God saying to you today?