Summary: An overview of Samson's life, emphasizing that his significance was not in the apparent heroic deeds, but in his life as a Judge.
It’s the first Sunday of the year, so I feel kind of like I’m the opening act, getting you all warmed up
I’m also aware that a lot of us look to the start of a new year with hopefulness and with desires to make changes, perhaps with resolutions and desires to accomplish great things. Sometimes we’re thinking, “this will be my year”. This year I will be the hero of my own story. So the life of Samson came to my mind. He is one of those bible characters who seems to have stepped out of a comic book. A real action hero with a story filled with drama, tragedy and adventure.
Let’s read a short passage from his story. Judges 15:11-20
Some have compared Samson with Hercules. There’s actually a lot of similarities. They both had super human strength, they both faced trials and challenges, they both had riddles in their stories, they both had struggles with love and they both had movies made about them.
I actually did some research to see which story came first. Well it turn out that the context of the story of Heracles, that’s his real name, was supposed to have lived during the classical greek age of around 1600 BC. But the actual stories themselves were not written until between 500 BC and 50 BC by Euripides and Aristophanes who made no claim that the stories were anything but myth. On the other hand, Samson is known to have lived at about 1100 BC at about the same time as the Prophet Eli. The stories of the book of Judges were probably written a hundred years later during the reign of King David.
It’s really interesting that most people only give a cursory look at his story, as if it were a screen play for an action movie. For example, I want to show you the trailer for the actual Samson and Delilah movie from 1949 starring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr.
Kind of cool to see how special effects and artwork has changed in 66 years. Also interesting how the subject matter of what is considered entertaining has changed.
Have you ever considered what a hero looks like? Does he look like Rocky Balboa? Does he look like Luke Skywalker? Is anybody old enough to remember John Wayne? Is it measured by being the mightiest? Is it the prettiest? The most successful? Are they always the winners? It seems that in our society, we are pushed to measure ourselves and others in these ways.
Is it any wonder that we still have trouble looking past the color of our skin? What can we expect when we refuse to note the content of our character as the true measure of a person? When we are unable to look past shallow sound bytes, fashion sense and athletic ability to test what a person is really made of.
Here’s an example; did you notice the beautiful Hedy Lamarr in the trailer? She’s the one who played Delilah in the movie. She made 25 movies in her life time and was known as “the most beautiful girl in the world.” At 19, way back in 1933 she starred nude in a film called Ecstasy. She was a Hungarian Jew but an Austrian Fascist fell in love with her and they were married. He brought her around to business meetings as “arm candy”. This guy was actually an arms dealer and sold weapons to Nazis. He didn’t think there was anything else to Hedy but her beauty so he let her listen to private business dealings. Later Hedy was quoted as saying, “Any girl can be glamorous; all you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”
After 4 years, she thoroughly despised what he was doing and escaped to London where she was able to eventually sign a contract with MGM studios.
Here’s the really interesting part, in 1942 she received a patent for an invention. She invented a technology intended as a sophisticated anti-jamming device for torpedoes. Sadly, it was never used against the Nazis, but it came to light during the Cuban Missile Crisis and then started to receive extensive use in military technology.
Today, the technology she invented called Spread Spectrum or “frequency hopping” is actually part of the backbone of all cellular and wi-fi networks. She never made a penny from it because the patent expired before wireless technology became popular. She died relatively broke in Orlando 15 years ago.
All the fame and notoriety she received because of her appearance and yet she had an amazing mind that went relatively unnoticed in her lifetime.
I think Samson has a similar story in some ways. Let’s take a closer look.
There are great snippets in the story, that really do make a exciting story, but I want to focus on three specific times where God literally stepped in to work directly in his life. In all the things that happened and the mighty acts in his life, it’s fascinating if you take notice that there are only three times where it says that “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him”. I think that’s significant. Each of those times God was talking to him. Each of those times, I believe God was asking him something.