The Bizarre Life of Samson

“And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson.” – Judges 13:24

In life, many people learn from their mistakes, make some sort of moral progress as they age, and eventually start passing their tests in the school of hard knocks. However, on occasion we meet a friend or family member whose life is a befuddling, head-scratching series of decades spent doing the same stupid thing over and over until their life implodes and ends.

Samson is one of those guys. His name means “sunny,” but, sadly, he is not very bright. God cared for him, but he did not care much for God. God pursued him, but he did not pursue God. God blessed him, but he did not bless God. God told him what not to do, and that is exactly what he did. A Bible dictionary says, “No biblical character is more paradoxical than Samson (Judges 13–16). A figure of heroic physical strength, he is also a morally and emotionally weak person whose frailty is highlighted by the tragic pattern of the OT story.” (1)

Samson is the last of the 12 judges whose history is reported in the book of Judges. The story of Samson in Judges 13-16 is unique for three reasons.

First, he is the most famous character in Judges and one of the most well-known characters in the Bible. People who don’t know the difference between Habakkuk and a hammer know something about his legendary Hulk-like strength. He was made famous with the French grand opera Samson and Delilah, which became a global phenomenon with Plácido Domingo playing Samson, as well as the famous 1912 Lovis Corinth painting Blinded by Love. Samson was also famous in the ancient Roman world.

A team of specialists and students led by University of North Carolina at Chapel 

Hill professor Jodi Magness has uncovered a spectacular mosaic panel in the 

late Roman (ca. 400 C.E.) synagogue at Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in 

Israel’s Lower Galilee … [and] also exposed additional sections of mosaic panels 

that were discovered in 2012 and 2013, which depict the episodes of Samson 

and the foxes as mentioned in Judges 15:4 and Samson carrying the gate of 

Gaza on his shoulders referenced in Judges 16:3.(2)

Second, spanning four chapters and 96 verses, the story of Samson’s life is given more airtime than that of any other judge.

Third, despite being so well known for generations and receiving so much attention in the Scriptures, Samson’s life in Judges 13-16 is one of the least preached, because his life is so complicated, and his character is more fitting for a murderous revenge plotline starring a hitman with a penchant for wild women than a hero of the faith. Pastors simply don’t know what to do with an ancient wild man who lives every day as though it were a Vegas bachelor party, and so they skip teaching about his life.

Samson is mentioned only once in the New Testament. A Bible dictionary says:

Outside of Judges 13–16, Samson is mentioned only once in the Bible. In Hebrews 11:32, he is included in a list of great men and women of faith – the list includes other judges, David, Samuel, and the prophets. It is followed by a register of the acts of faith carried out by these individuals (Heb 11:33). Three of these acts correspond to Samson’s actions: 1. “Prevented the mouths of lions from harming.” 2. “Were strengthened from weakness.” 3. “Became strong in war” (Heb 11:33–34). (3)

In yet another head-scratcher, he is listed in the “Heroes of the Faith” Hall of Fame found in Hebrews 11:32-40, which concludes:

[Of] whom the world was not worthy – wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Obviously, Samson was saved and kept by God’s grace alone, because his ongoing penchant for murder, alcohol, and prostitutes would prevent him from even qualifying as an unpaid intern at the most liberal church.

Reflect on a time in your life where you acted like Samson and didn’t learn from your mistakes.

1.    Leland Ryken et al., Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 755.

2.    “Archaeological Dig in Galilee Uncovers Mosaics of Samson and Commemorative Inscriptions,” Phys.Org, July 10, 2023

3.    Jay Todd, “Samson the Judge,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

Message and data rates may apply. Reply STOP to opt out or HELP for help. Visit for privacy and terms info.