It’s just bizarre: Sex and the City meets The Killing; but not in a good way.
Take a look at chapters 13 – 16. Samson is the man your parents warned you about; the kind who stands too close when there’s plenty of space. God has given him the gift of enormous strength – located in his excellent hair. But while he’s easy on the eye, he’s a terrible date. In between protein snacks – Lion bars, but not as we know them – he’s chasing women and torching foxes.
Still not convinced of his unsuitability? His fiancée marries his best man and then ends up dead.
It seems to me that Samson ought to give up on Bible bad girls and take up crosswords. Settle down with a cup of hot chocolate and an early night. Instead, he marries a Hebrew temptress, Delilah, who conspires with his enemies to betray him for money. She asks him to tell her the secret of his great strength, which is his long hair that’s never been cut. But he fobs her off with a lie. When she invites the Philistines to attack him, he shakes his unshorn locks and defeats them.
By this point you might expect Samson to stop and say: “Hmmm. I entrusted Delilah with a secret – but she told my enemies. What’s with that?”
He doesn’t. And it happens again. She asks, he lies, the Philistines attack and he escapes.
I want to take him aside. “Time to raise the delicate issue of trust, Samson. Book an (emergency) appointment with Relate. Or call your mum.”
But for a third time he lies, and is once more betrayed.
I know he won’t listen, but I can’t stop myself from muttering: “I’d never tell her anything again. I wouldn’t share so much as a sandwich with the double-crossing vixen.”
I certainly wouldn’t say: “Honey, I can’t tell a lie. It’s all in the hair,” as Samson does.
I close my Bible in disgust. “You IDIOT!”
But I open it again, because it’s the Bible. And Samson is in there for a reason, so let’s think this through.
He prays and talks to God. His power comes from the Spirit, not his press-ups (Judges 13:25). And he’s marked out as chosen, even before his birth.
A special baby who’s filled by the Spirit.
A teller of stories that only he can explain (Judges 14:12-20)
A bridegroom, determined to pursue his unfaithful bride – even though it cost him everything.
A hero brought low and mocked by the people he ruled.
A saviour, who dies to defeat the enemies of his people (Judges 16:28-30).
Remind you of anyone?
Samson is not perfect. Most of the time, he’s not even good. But even he points us to Jesus.