Samson is an interesting character in the Old Testament. (Judges, chapters 13-16.) We can learn much about ourselves through it. The drama has many implications for us, but the conclusion lies far beyond the Old Testament narrative.
Samson’s story is a powerful saga about a man who was NOT the brave leader commonly supposed by the average person. The book of Judges presents him as a man who was given to whoring and sexual exploits. The Bible is littered with characters that are seriously flawed. King Saul, King David and his son Solomon were far from perfect. Samson could be said to head the list.
“Samson the hero,” is what every Jewish child the first time he or she hears about him. Over the years that is how he has been portrayed in works of art, theatre and film. Saint Saens composed an impressive opera about him, the music of which captures the pathos of his lonely existence. Grand Opera is a wonderful media for portraying loss and tragedy. All the best operas end with a death. Think of Madame Butterfly in the opera by Puccini.
Verdi’s opera based on Shakespeare’s Othello adds considerably to the tragedy of the story. Othello you will remember kills Desdemona, his lover, out of rumour and misplaced jealousy.
Samson was a man whose calling was a never ending struggle to accommodate his life to the powerful destiny thrust upon him. That is true of all Christians. We are all flawed. How otherwise can we understand others?
Samson couldn’t grasp the tragic role into which he had been cast. He’s a very fragmented individual. He was born a stranger to his parents. Despite being the strongman of popular myth, he constantly yearned to win the affections of his father and mother and love in general. The whole of his existence was the quest for love that he was never to know.
There are few other Bible stories with so much passion, action, fireworks and raw emotion. The battle with the lion, the three hundred burning foxes, the women he bedded and the one woman that he loved, are intensely dramatic. His betrayal by the women in his life, from his mother to Delilah, and in the end his murderous suicide, when he brought the house down on himself and three thousand Philistines, are not calculated to give comfort or hope. The lesson of Samson’s story is what the Spirit communicates to us through it.
Beyond the untamed wildness, impulsiveness, the chaos and the din, we sense a life story that is at bottom the tortured journey of a single, lonely and turbulent soul who never found anywhere a true home in the world. His very body was a harsh place of exile. This discovery, call it recognition, which like all tragic stories, slips silently into the day to day existence of each of us, into our most private moments, and our buried secrets. There’s a little bit of Samson in every one of us, hopefully without such drastic results.
Now the conclusion – Only the Lord Jesus can give us the love for which we have been created and only He can heal our conflicts and lead us into the present reality of his Kingdom. Jesus is as much for Now as any future life that might exist beyond the grave.
I don’t say that Jesus solves all our problems. But he does help us live with them