How Big Was Samson?

“And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it struck 1,000 men.” – Judges 15:15 

In the realm of superheroes, the closest person to Samson is the Incredible Hulk. When he’s not angry, Bruce Banner is a mild-mannered, typical-looking man. When he gets angry, that same man morphs into the Hulk – a giant, powerful, and destructive monster.

Perhaps Samson was a bit like the Hulk. Maybe he was a rather normal guy until the Holy Spirit came upon him, and anger rose up in him, empowering him to defeat and destroy any foe.

Or perhaps Samson was like Goliath: a towering giant who intimidated everyone with the power of his presence. Then, when the Holy Spirit fell on him to increase his strength, Samson became a near god among men and an unstable and unstoppable force.

One theory that is worth mentioning, but seldom considered, is that, perhaps, Samson was a normal-sized man with abnormal strength, thanks to the Holy Spirit. What God creates, Satan counterfeits. For this reason, it is possible that Samson was the Holy Spirit version of the demon-possessed man that Jesus delivered. There is no report that this man was unusually large, but the demon in him made him unusually strong.

Luke 8:26-39 tells his story:

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.

When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

No matter how big Samson was, he has forever served as a big problem for Bible students and teachers. How could a man so blessed by God live such a self-indulgent and self-destructive life? In the New Testament, Paul’s description of the church at Corinth suggests that they would have gladly voted in Samson as their senior pastor. How to interpret such troubling texts is what we will learn more about next week.

Where do you see the Enemy appearing unusually strong in today’s culture?

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