And Why Do We Look Up to Samson?

As a child growing up in Sunday school I always thought of Samson as a “good guy”. I seem to remember him being portrayed as a man who followed God but made a mistake in allowing his hair to be cut but who redeemed himself in the end by killing the Philistines. But I think the traditional Sunday school portrayal of Samson leaves out many, many things. Samson was a mess from day one. He had little to no respect for his parents. He married a non-Israelite woman. He went after a prostitute. He was vengeful and prone to fits of rage. He seems to test and tempt God over and over again regarding his strength. And then in a fit of vengeance at the end of his life, he takes out a few thousand Philistines. I know that Samson is mentioned somewhat positively in Hebrews chapter 11 regarding faith but I have to admit that I just don’t see it. Of course Jepthah and Barak are also mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11 and they are not paragons of virtue either.

So what gives? Are we supposed to look up to Samson? Are we supposed to use him as any sort of role model? I don’t think so. When we look at Samson I think we are to see a very, very flawed individual; that despite his flaws; God used for His purposes. The entire book of Judges is a strange mix of sin and selfishness and God’s deliverance. We certainly see that in the life of Samson. My takeaway on Samson today is that he is hard to understand and God’s activity in His life is hard to understand. But sometimes that’s what I see today. I will continue to trust in God and His character, even when I don’t understand…but I’m not looking up to Samson!


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