Samson’s Tragic End

“… but he did not know that the LORD had left him.” – Judges 16:20

As we conclude this week’s devotional series on Samson’s life, let’s imagine a Lone Ranger type of political leader for whom no one could work for very long and who had a volatile temper, could not stop picking fights, and was oddly anointed and used by God to do some good, but also liked porn stars. If you are thinking of a certain modern day-politician, you are not far off, but we’re talking about the Old Testament judge, Samson.

The final chapter of his life opens at Judges 16:1: “Samson went to Gaza, and there he saw a prostitute, and he went in to her.”

This scene does not make it into children’s Bibles, for good reason – Samson is not the kind of man a Christian family wants their son to emulate or their daughter to marry. Hearing that their enemy was in town for sinful purposes, they “set an ambush for him all night at the gate of the city” with the obvious purpose “to kill him.”

In this scene, Samson’s arrogance is on full display. Alone, unarmed, he walks into enemy territory to spend time at a brothel fearing no one and nothing. Oddly, he is likely the only believer in town and perhaps the worst missionary in the history of the world. In the morning, the strong man pulls up from the ground the city gates and the posts on which they hung and carried them to a hill, perhaps to make sure that his mocking of his enemies could be seen by all. 

Unable to be defeated by armies of men, Samson is about to be chopped down by one woman, as we see starting at Judges 16:4: “After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.” Curiously, this woman lives down in a valley, closer to Hell, and the man with a strong body and weak mind is carelessly wandering into disaster.

The capture of Samson was regarded by his enemies as their demon god defeating his God. For them, the entire conflict was spiritual warfare. There are two ways that Satan seeks to defeat you: One is to overwhelm and destroy you; the other is to seduce and entice you. 

What we hate can destroy our life. So can what we love. In Samson’s day and our own, comfort, pleasure, entitlement, prosperity, and ease make us soft and set us up to be seduced and then destroyed. In our day, this includes addictions of every kind, causing people to be destroyed by no one but themselves.

This is also the story of Samson. He had become so callous to the presence of God in his life that “he did not know that the LORD had left him.” In the final scene of his life, Samson cries out to God for only the second recorded time, saying, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

Sadly, the man who got into so much trouble for doing what was right in his own eyes lost his eyes. Further, a man whose name means “sunny” would die without seeing the sun in his final days.

As we established earlier, the source of Samson’s strength was not his hair, but God. So long as Samson did not get his hair cut, he remained strong. Once Delilah cut his hair, his strength left him. The hair was a symbol of God’s anointing, and when he disobeyed God, and allowed his hair to be cut, God removed His anointing strength from the man. His hair was a sign, or spiritual connection, to God because it showed that he was consecrated solely to the Lord. 

While ancient, Samson’s story is also incredibly relatable. Not only do we live in the days of the judges, where everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes; we have been like Samson, and all know believing leaders who have followed his tragic example.

After 300 years of wars and 12 judges, nothing really changed. Like gravity, evil keeps winning and pulling everyone and everything down toward Hell. This sets the stage for the rising up of King David, from whom would come the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, who alone is the perfect leader, able to defeat Satan and sin and to deliver us from ourselves. The little story of Judges is part of the big story of Jesus, who came not just to die for His sin, but to die for our sin!

If you don’t fight against inclinations such as those that brought down Samson, in what ways could you become like him?

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