Summary: What Makes a Hero?
What Makes a Hero?
Remember last week? Gideon fought the bad guys, the Midianites, and won. He was a Judge, remember? There was another Judge in old Israel, a few Judges down from Gideon; his name was Samson.
In the eyes of most folks Samson was a hero; the kind of stuff Sunday school stories are made of. He was bad to the bone, strong as an ox and a real ladies man. Samson was the kind of hero Israel was looking for. And they needed one. This time the bad guys were the Philistines; they had been the bad guys for about forty years. It was time for God to send Israel a new Judge, a deliverer, a hero. God had Samson in mind. You can read about him in the Old Testament book of Judges (of course); his story runs through chapters 13 to 16.
Gideon was minding his own business, just trying to stay out of the way, when the angel of God showed up to make him a Judge and a hero.
Samson’s story wasn’t like that. He was custom made for the job. The angel of God showed up to the lady who was to become Samson’s mother. She didn’t have any kids, she was sterile. God likes to prove a point. So the angel tells Samson’s mom-to-be that she’s going to have a very special son; he’s going to be a Nazerite, and he would deliver Israel from the Philistines.
A Nazarite was someone who was set aside for a special purpose. Sometimes that meant just for a certain period of time, sometimes it was for a lifetime. Samson was supposed to be a lifetime Nazerite.
Being a Nazerite required certain behavior. For instance, Nazerites weren’t allowed to touch wine or any sort of alcohol. This particular rule was so radical that Nazerites weren’t even allowed to be around grapes. That’s pretty radical.
If you were a Nazerite, you couldn’t touch any unclean or dead thing and you couldn’t cut your hair. There were a lot of restrictions.
Samson had his own way of doing things. He wasn’t into restrictions.
God has His own way of doing things too. When He says something’s going to happen, you’d better count on it. And how some folks think He should make His plans go down isn’t necessarily the way they do.
Samson broke about every Nazerite rule there was. He liked wine, didn’t mind dead things, and didn’t much care for rules of any kind. He was a guy who pretty much took what he wanted ... and he wanted a lot.
Taking what he wanted got him into a lot of trouble. His strength got him out of trouble. It seems that breaking all the wine drinking, dead thing touching Nazerite rules didn’t have much of an effect on Samson’s strength. In the end it was getting a hair cut that did him in.
Remember the story from Sunday school? Samson goes to see his new flame, Delilah. Delilah’s a bad girl in more ways than one; she’s friends with the bad guys. Delilah gets him drunk, gets his attention, gets his secret, and gets him fast asleep. Then she calls in the bad guys to give Samson a haircut. Samson wakes up, jumps up and takes on the bad guys. Whoops! No more super powers. Samson finds out he’s just a regular joe. The bad guys poke out his eyes and make him their slave.
The Philistines throw a huge party and Samson’s the main event. They’re going to celebrate by making a mockery of the guy who had made a mockery of them. By now Samson has pretty much realized he’s screwed up his life. He has one last chance at destiny; one last opportunity to be what and who he was made to be. He asks the kid holding his chain to put him between the two pillars that hold the roof up. The kid, not knowing any better, does what Samson asks.
One last time, maybe the first time, Samson asks God to restore his super-strength. 3,000 bad guys got together that day to see Samson put on a show. They had no idea of the kind of show they were about to see. Samson put his left hand on the left pillar and his right hand on the right pillar. He bowed his back and pushed ... and pushed. Then something remarkable happened. There was a crack, and then a pop, and then a little dust and grit fell from the ceiling. And then the roof came down. 3,000 Philistines and one Jew were killed that day.
Samson fulfilled his purpose; he delivered his people from the bad guys.
Kind of a different story from Gideon’s, wasn’t it? Gideon was like Barney Fife. Samson was like the Terminator. Gideon was a pip-squeak and certainly no warrior. But he did what he knew he had to do, even though it scared the ba-hookey out him. And he delivered Israel.