Summary: Explores Samson’s life and ministry: the mystery of his calling, sinning, prolonged anointing, and restoration

Samson: Saint or Sinner?

Judges 13-16


Richard Tow

Grace Chapel Foursquare Church

Springfield, MO


Judg 13:1-5

13:1Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.

2A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. 3The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. 4Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, 5because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines " NIV

Judg 13:24-25

24The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, 25and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. NIV

Those verses introduce us to a complicated character in the Bible. Samson is a strange mix of success and failure. He is strong as an ox and weak as water. He is the sole source of Israel’s hope and deliverance at this time. Yet he is also the subject of shame and embarrassment for the whole nation.

Is he a saint or a sinner? He doesn’t fit very neatly into our religious categories. We love to be able to classify people, put them in a little box and call them either bad or good. But Samson defies our categories and challenges our understanding of how God works. In some ways he leaves us with more questions than answers.

This morning we will look at some of those questions. We will pry under the surface of his story and try to understand some things about God and His dealings with us.

1st The Mystery of his Calling?

Why did God raise up a deliverer for these people in the first place? Israel was in a backslidden condition. They were just doing what was right in their own eyes,[1] following their own desires. Judges 13:1 tells us they had “…done evil in the eyes of the Lord.” That was God’s evaluation of their spiritual condition. As a result they were living under the bondage and oppression of the Philistines.

In 2 Chron 7:15 God says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” NIV

These people were doing none of those things. They were not seeking God. There was no prayer movement for revival. They were just existing in their pathetic bondage.

Yet God initiates this deliverance for His people.

The story of Samson brings us face to face with the sovereignty of God. Israel did not deserve this help, yet God sent it. And He sent the deliverance through a person whose life was full of inconsistencies and contradictions.

I personally don’t like Samson as a hero. He’s not a good example for the kids. He’s gifted; his anointing is undeniable. But why in the world would God call a person like Samson to this ministry. Couldn’t God foresee the weakness in his moral fiber? I can understand God’s choice of Joseph or Daniel. These are men I like to preach about.

They do not disappoint us. They refuse to bow to temptation and will not compromise their principles. “God, You made a good choice when You called Joseph and when You called Daniel.” But I don’t find it easy to agree with God’s choice of Samson. This guy is a gross embarrassment. None of us would want this kind of leader in our movement. We wouldn’t know what to do with him. He’s anointed but he’s a mess.

Here is a lesson on sovereignty. The gifts and callings of God are according to His purposes and will seldom fall in line with what we think God ought to do.

Samson’s calling is not based upon his performance. His call was there before he was ever born—before he had ever done one good thing or one bad thing. In Romans 9-11 Paul discusses this issue of sovereignty extensively. He talks about God’s calling of Jacob rather than Esau before there were ever born—before either had ever performed good or bad.[2]

Does God have the right to make such choices? The way I respond to the sovereignty of God will significantly affect my relationship with Him. In my youth I was convinced that the race goes to the swift and the battle to the strong. So if you want to win you just run harder than everybody else. But I have discovered that life is not nearly that simple. There is a God who ultimately rules over the affairs of men and is working all things together according to His purposes.

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Mike Gibson

commented on Aug 22, 2013

Very helpful message, the insights fit my own experience and will help fuel the message I'm working on.

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