Samson is one of the most slandered heroes in the Scripture. Even as a boy, I always looked up to Samson. Not only his strength, but his faith. Even as a child I saw the New Testament defining Samson as a hero of faith, along with David, Moses, Abraham and others as a person, whom the world was not worthy to have known. Samson is truly someone I can look up to and emulate, just as much as David and other heroes of faith.
However, growing up, I almost exclusively heard Samson used only to say, “don’t be like Samson, who went after a prostitute.” Well, obviously! But why do mere mortals only refer to Samson this way, when the Scripture and the Preacher only define him as a man to emulate as a hero of faith? Jesus says what men often priorities, God finds an abomination. What God prioritizes, men often put at the bottom of the list, if at all.
The first true positive teaching on Samson I ever read was by Vincent Cheung. Some of my thoughts are based on this essay. See footnote for source material.
The gospel of John has this thesis statement, “I have written these things that by believing in His name, you will have eternal life.” After feeding the 5 thousand, the crowds ask Jesus what are the “works” of God that they need to do. Jesus answers them by saying the “work” the Father has commanded you to do is to believe in the Son, whom He as sent. This is in essence, the first and greatest commandment in application. Favoring God above all others and obedience starts at the epistemology level. Its starts with knowledge. Once man abandons himself as a starting point, and humbly receives God’s revelation, everything else flows from this, including the second greatest commandment. This is to say, the most important act of obedience is faith in what God as revealed. Indeed the gospel of grace is itself a commandment to all men, for Paul says in Acts 17 to the Greeks, that God has “commanded” all to repent. The gospel as wonderful as it is, is still a commandment. Christian ethics is God’s commands and precepts. Thus, obeying God by believing in Him to accept the good things Christ has purchased by His blood, is the height of Christian morals and ethics.
I say all this to point out how some very foolish people think Samson is a moral failure. They could not be more wrong. Because Samson’s faith was so strong, he is therefore, a super strong example of moral power, and ethical superiority. The point is not if one specific Christian has sinned, for we all stumble, even after being born from above. As John says, if we say we have not sinned, we are lairs.
Faith, is more than just receiving Jesus’ good news of forgiveness and sonship, it also includes believing God at every point of contact with reality, where the Scripture gives a truth claim. Whether it is simply believing a categorical claim about reality in general, or a promise that God will help in this specific way, all of it is faith. Since we struggle, and the world is often against us as Christians, our faith is often focused on our relation with our Father, and specific promises that deal with our situations.
Often our faith in what God has revealed is tested in our immediate context and struggle. Whether it is about believing God’s claim of creating the worlds in 6 days, God’s definition of male or female, or healing of a terminal sickness, our faith is tested in what we are facing. Therefore, to define a strong “faith” is more than looking at the bear basic gospel message, and if there is faith or unbelief. Paul and New Testament writers, often referred to their audience in confidence that they are part of God’s elect, but also rebuked them for their immaturity; they must feed them milk rather than solid food. Thus, they have faith, but it is immature and defective. They have gospel believing faith, but they are still categorized as immature. Their faith needs grow, because in the immediate context of their testing, they are failing.
Samson is a hero of faith, because in his immediate context of struggle and testing, he shown forth as a brilliant superstar of faith. His faith was not a flashlight in the dark, it was a sun breaking over the horizon. Oh, that Christians would be like Samson.
I have often used Samson as a test, when trying to evaluate other Christians. I want to see how they value faith, and if they value it like the Scripture and Jesus Christ does. I have often, been disappointed and angered. One missionary, with brutal honesty, told me he did not like that Samson was mentioned in Hebrews 11 as someone for us to emulate. At least he was honest that he did not like the bible. For people like him, the bible is not moral enough. Jesus is not moral enough for them.
I will not go over the story and major points of Samson, for that see the above essay by Vincent. I want to focus only on faith.
Samson after killing the thousand people with the bone, said this prayer,
“Samson was now very thirsty, and he cried out to the Lord, “You have accomplished this great victory by the strength of your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of these pagans?”
First point. Samson spoken to God in a disrespectful way. This will be important later.
Second point, Samson acknowledged it was God who gave him the strength for this victory. Thus, even at the beginning of Samson’s victory over the Philistines, he was not doing it in unbelief. Samson from the start, was crediting God with his own strength and power. Samson was not stealing from God by saying he did it, not God. Samson must have heard the word his parents spoke to him that God gave them. He believed it. He believed God would strengthen him and would give him victory over the Philistines.
What lead up to Samson killing the thousand Philistines? His own countrymen, maybe people he even grew up with (his peers) freely handed him over to the Philistines. Remember Gideon? With only 300, he defeated an army. Here now are 3000 men from Judah! If they would, repent and believe, God could free them in an hour, no, in a minute.
The big idea is the context for Samson’s faith being tested. Imagine, being surrounded by 3000 Christians (some who you went to Sunday school with). You are surrounded by unbelief from those who say they believe. But it gets worse, they actively preach and encourage you to not believe God’s promise. The ones meant to help, persecute you. The ones meant to build you up, are demons who inspire unbelief. This is Samson’s test and context. Many fold in this situation. The 3000 Judah cowards show this. No friends and even your own church peers’ pressure you to not trust in God’s promise. Some might have just enough strength, to not renounce God’s promise as they are martyred, and by this, end their ability to help the church. However, would you have enough faith in God’s promise, to not only affirm but in faith acquire the promise to kill 1000 men with a bone, and advance the Kingdom of God? What would you have done? I will not answer that for you.
After Samson’s sin with Delilah (which is more about female companionship rather than just sex), has his eyes poked out and is a slave in the hands of his enemies.
Most in this context and testing avert to David Hume’s empiricism and make truth claims about reality with their observations, rather than, faith in God’s promise. Most use their observation about their circumstance and feelings to say, “It’s God’s will for me to be here, and so, either God has abandoned me, or God wants me to be die here for my punishment (and thus ending my ability to be a judge according to His promise).” All of these sayings are from spiritual losers, and spiritual perverts.
The sin and wickedness of this is manifold, but the foundation sin is rejecting God’s promise as a truth claim about reality and negating it with one’s observations. God’s promise for your forgiveness, or your healing, or help in trouble is a truth claim about reality, and so, to use your human observation to negate this truth claim, is to proclaim a human starting point is more foundation for truth rather than God’s revelation. Sadly, most who claim Christian give this testimony more than anything else. They have their reward.
Samson’s last prayer when like this,
“My Lord Yahweh, remember me!
Please give me strength this one time, O God, so that I can repay with one act of revenge to the Philistines for my eyes.
Samson not only acknowledges God as his strength, but did so in a respectful way. This was the greater of his moral mistakes. Delilah, was in fact the lesser of the two moral problems. The first commandment is always the greatest. Disrespect for God is always greater compared to sins committed against the second commandment. Samson thus, made the most important ethical repentance and change that faced him. However, this not the point I wish to focus on.
Look at His faith! Even with everything Samson could observe and calculate from his human observations, which said God was done with him, Samson did not approach God on this human foundation. Rather, Samson approached God on His promise.
Not our observation, but God’s promise defines reality as it truly is. By approaching God on the foundation of His promise, you are acknowledging God’s sovereignty over reality. This exalts Him and honors Him. You are acknowledging His sovereign word defines reality, and not what you can gather from inductive empiricism.
Samson’s faith rested on the fact that “GOD” defined Samson as a judge to the Philistine, not Samson. The sovereign Yahweh, said Samson was a judge, because Yahweh wanted it so. As Paul says in Romans 9, before they are born, before they had done “good or evil choices,” God chose to love one and hate another. Yahweh in love, before Samson sinned or did good, chose him to be judge; the only sovereign God chose him to be a hero of faith. It was about God’s choice. And God is still here. He is still sitting on His throne. His callings and gifts are irrevocable. His mercy endures forever.
So what, if Samson is a slave to the Philistines, by his own bad choices? What does this have to do with negating God’s callings and God’s loving choice to make Samson a judge? Nothing!
Some can see this in the gospel but fail to apply this correctly to all of God’s promises about reality. In Romans 5:9 Paul says on the foundation of Jesus blood, you are declared righteous by the Father. Thus, there is nothing “you” can do about it, because there was no “you” for how this justification happened. The ethical application, which is faith, is worked in you by God. This is true for all of God’s promises.
God is the only real cause for anything and all reality. There is no such thing as secondary causes, because “relative” to God, there is no other cause. There is no dualism in Christian ontology. Thus, every act of faith is caused by God in us. And every act of unbelief is equally worked directly by God in us, even if Satan is working it in the man, because God is the one directly controlling Satan’s mind and the man’s mind.
God’s sovereignty is arbitrarily in the sense of what God wants. It is not arbitrary in the sense of being fickle or constantly up and down. God has perfect control over His Mind. He only does what He wills.
God cannot lie and He is immutable, thus, God will not lie to us. However, this has nothing to do with God arbitrarily wanting to hate Esau and love Jacob before they had done any good or bad. This is why Paul says in the same chapter that human beings are like a lump of clay, and God arbitrarily grabs a handful of clay from the lump and then forms it into a pee pot and then another to be a beautify vase. It is God’s choice.
There is confusion over God’s sovereignty being arbitrary. Its arbitrary, in that God does what He wants, but not in the sense it is fickle, or that it goes up and down.
He is immutable. God cannot lie.
He gave promises in the Bible based on the demand of faith, and they are all yes in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, a Saint looking at a promise in the Bible, is all the confirmation they need that it is God’s will for them.
It is like a child playing with LEGOS. Would I be wrong for taking some blue colored LEGOS and some brown ones, and then treat the blue LEGOS as the bad LEGOS and the brown ones as good? Of course not. Therefore, men have no argument against God, for no matter what they say against His sovereignty they would condemn themselves in the same breath. I am the only sovereign over the LEGOS I am building. If I sovereignly decide, any LEGO man with “x” shade of brown on their body will be a strong judge, then it is so.
God created and put Samson with the brown LEGOS, with “x” brown shade for his upper body; He wrote on his t-shirt, “A judge to the Philistines.” This was based on what God wanted. It is final. It is irrevocable. It is reality.
Samson honored God by believing Him, even when everyone and everything said no. Samson said yes. Samson said, “God gets to define reality, not men.” “God is the true sovereign God. If God said I will be a judge, then it is so. If God’s choice was based on His own sovereign arbitrary choice, and had nothing to do with me, then even my own choices do not negate God’s choice to use me.”
And so, even in a besetting sin, God will give victory. Samson looked beyond human observation and saw that in God’s eyes, Samson was placed by God with the brown LEGOS, and God made him strong. God’s choice was arbitrary, but not fickle. And God still rules; thus, Samson was still with the brown LEGOS. This is God’s world. The world runs on His definitions and choices, not mans.
Peter in Acts 2 and Jesus in John 15 uses the doctrine of predestination as a way to encourage faith for baptism of the Spirit, and faith to ask for anything and receive this from God. They used God’s sovereignty to encourage and elevate faith. Someone who uses predestination to diminish the baptism of the Spirit (and speaking in tongues) and faith to ask for whatever you want and have God give it to you, is an anti-Christ and a liar. They have no idea what they are talking about. They have no clue what is God; they do not know what His sovereignty means. God’s sovereignty is too good, too spiritual and too intellectual for them to understand.
Hebrews 12 mentions besetting sins for Christians (which is so sensitive for many), and the encouragement is to look to Jesus who is the “author” and “perfecter” of our faith. On the ultimate level God does it, and He wants you to know it, and keep looking to the fact Jesus will sovereignty control your faith to victory. Vincent really helped me years ago, to dismantle the false use of God’s sovereignty the Reformed teach, in his essay, “Predestination and Miracles.” The bible uses God’s absolute control over our faith as an encouragement for power and victory, and not “if God wills,” and just let life roll over us.
This is how it is with all of God’s promises that are “yes and amen” in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV, “No matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.” Thus, If you are looking at a promise today that is a help for your situation, then that alone shows it is God’s will for you.
If you read a promise on healing it is your definition as much as God made plants being organic part of their definition. God’s promises for healing is having “z” shade of LEGO brown legs. God’s word tells you, that God has created you with “z” legs. It is your reality. Faith is simply agreeing with God’s sovereign right, authority, and power to create you this way in Christ. God is the only sovereign God.
Samson said Yes to God’s promise to use him as a judge. God honored Samson’s acknowledgment of His promise, by granting him the most powerful display of strength he had ever used.
In our lives, in the context of our struggles, Samson is a hero to be emulated in our faith. He serves as a shinning sun, that pushed aside every human starting point for knowledge, and only stood on God’s sovereign promise/definition of reality.
Considering God’s promise to always give a “yes” to our faith in His many promises in Christ, what excuse do we have? Jesus said we have been predestined to bear fruit for God, and this fruit includes asking and receiving whatever we ask for.
As a personal note. I remember back in high school, when my band (Kairo Music) was asked to play for a Church of God boys of Tennessee retreat. There were only about 20 boys, and most were from broken homes. Not your typical event a young Christian rock band plays at, for there is little return on such an event in the eyes of the world. However, God moved us to go and so we did. We were very busy that week, and could not prepare in way of playing and praying, as we often try to do. We were in the cafeteria, praying right before the event, and we all were filled with unbelief about the event. At that moment, my twin (Joshua) began to prophecy, “I want to bless these boys. Your effort to prepare, or not prepare has nothing to do with My own desire to bless them. I want to bless them, and so I will.” The Spirit of God came down that night and many boys were saved and baptized in the Spirit. Years later, the person in charge of this event stumbled upon on me. He then told me that for years they only had 20-30 boys show up, but something changed that night we played, when the Spirit fell. He said now hundreds of boys are now showing up and are hearing the gospel preached to them.
The truth of the matter is that it should not take God to give us a public rebuke to remind us that God’s promises are “yes” in Christ. His promises are based in His sovereign pleasure to bless all of His elect Children. If God says, “if you have faith to be forgiven or healed, then you will get,” then God has just told has us that HE WANTS TO BLESS US. He just defined us in this reality, as those who are healed by faith. It is God’s sovereign, arbitrary good pleasure to define us this way. It has nothing to do with us, and our performance.
Because God’s promises for healing, for example is a “yes” (James 5:15) just as much as forgiveness of sins by faith (James 5:15), then it is an accurate and precise definition of reality. In essence, when the Holy Spirit sovereignly opens your mind to see and believe God’s promise, you see that God as placed you with the brown LEGOS. It is God telling you, “I have defined clouds to float, and the sun to shine. However, I have defined you this way. You had nothing to do with why I put you here. I wanted to. I am still here. I am still on the throne. And so, you are still with the brown LEGOS. Your definition is this: if you ask for forgiveness, then you get it. If you ask in faith for healing, then you get it.”
This is God’s world, and His arbitrary choices. And He has defined you this way. It is who you are. It does not matter, where you are now. It does not matter if you have 3000 friends who cannot strain out one ounce of faith for God. It does not matter if you are being disciplined by God for bad choices. God’s arbitrary choices are immutable and irrevocable. You are still a child of God, and you are STRONG in Christ. You have the armor of God! You are predestined for baptism of the Spirit with power, you are predestined to get answers to your prayers. You are who God has made you; You are defined as God has defined you through Jesus Christ. There is no fear in a God who loved you so much that He saved you when a sinner, and who cannot lie. He promises to use His absolute and direct sovereign control over all reality to author a faith of victory for you. He will cause you to mature.
This positive doctrine of our faith by the predestination and sovereignty of God is seeing Jesus as the “author and perfecter,” of our faith, and therefore, He is the the “hero of our faith.” He will not fail in His love to cause us to bear fruit and remain in Him. He is our great hero who works in us faith to acquire these things. It is certain. God is the hero of our faith, in that we delight knowing God will sovereignly control and prefect our faith for victory over the world and acquiring the promises. Oh, what a hero is His to us!
When God becomes hero of your faith, then you become a hero of faith, whom the world was not worthy to have known.