Why is Samson in the bible in the book of “Hebrews” as a man of faith?
let me tell you about a guy! A real emblem of faith…
Philistines had conquered the
Israelites, and they needed someone to protect them from this new threat…
so God sent an angel to Samson’s barren
who promised them a child,
and made them swear an oath,
that Samson would never cut his hair,
or be ritually impure, or drink strong drink.
man, Samson, starts his ministry by marrying a…
you know, the people he was supposed
to protect the Israelites from…
he’s wandering to his bachelor party, and along the way he has a run in with a
lion and rips it in half.
at the bachelor party, he picks a fight with his future brother-in-laws, and
kills a bunch of them.
would-be father-in-law thinks this means the marriage is off,
and marries Samson’s bride-to-be to
the best man…
and then we come to today’s story about the
this point, Samson’s own people have decided he’s a little funny, and a danger to himself and others…
so they turn him over to the Philistine authorities….
Once arrested he kills, and kills,
and kills, and kills, until the Philistine forces are all gone and God offers
him a cool drink of water.
satiated, he finds himself a prostitute in the city, and when his love shack is
surrounded by an angry mob he hides out until midnight and then beats a hasty
carrying the city gates themselves off
with him, for the fun of it.
he falls in love with Delilah, another Philistine,
who he famously lies to about the source of his strength a couple of times,
before he tells the truth,
which gets him shorn and captured and blinded and bound.
in the final act, he’s put between pillars of a house where sacrifices to the Philistine god Dagon were taking place
—all the leaders of the Philistines are giving thanks to Dagon
for allowing them to capture Samson,
and Samson goes from weakness to
strength and strains and pushes those pillars down
—killing everyone, including himself
—3,000 in all.
that gets me to the first question in our 3-week sermon series “Questions from
Today’s question is:
“Why is Samson in the bible in the book of “Hebrews” as a man of faith?”
“Why is Samson in the bible
in the book of “Hebrews” as a man of faith?”
to begin with, we have to come to grips with the fact that the Bible is a collection of books
bible is a library of books we believe point to the God we know in Jesus
not all books say the same thing,
they have different focuses and different points.
And today, at least to some extent,
we’re looking at two books of the Bible that are working at cross-purposes.
of the main point of the book of Judges is that the system for ruling God’s people
after the death of Moses and Joshua, was ineffective—it worked very poorly.
Essentially, you had 12 tribes living
side-by-side, but separate, other than when bad things happened,
at which point they would cry to God
and a Judge
—a charismatic ruler
—would arise and unite the tribes and
stop whatever bad thing had befallen them.
problem was, with the exception of Deborah
and a few barely mentioned Judges, most of these judges were deeply, and I mean DEEPLY, flawed individuals
sacrificed his own daughter because he made a dumb oath,
Barak was a
Gideon and Micah made idols,
slaughtered his own brothers,
tribes warred against one another,
culminating in the near genocide of
the tribe of Benjamin…
and as we see today, we also have hyped-up,
sexed-up, erratic, frat-boy Samson.
point the book of Judges is making, is that the
system is messed up; a Davidic king is needed…
is, however, not the point of Hebrews.
Hebrews is a sermon focused on giving
hope to early Christians facing
preaching to a Christian community
where there are people falling away,
because being Christian involves
—the preacher is telling us that, in
the face of persecution, we need to trust
in the unseen things of God, just
like the faithful who came before did.
Though it doesn’t always seem like it…
God is in relationship with us,
God has made a promise to us,
and we ought to trust in that promise,
just as God was in relationship with
folk throughout the bible.
on one hand the book of Judges goes out of its way to show that many of the
Judges are flawed,
on the other, Hebrews points to their
that’s where the preacher is going—he is giving concrete examples of people
living out their faith in times of trouble, so that his listeners can do the
mentions Samson in this list of people—and it is a little unclear why.
Is it because he his parents “obtained promises” from God through his
Is it because he “shuts the mouth of lions” by tearing
one to shreds?
Is it because he “won strength out of weakness” there at
the end of his story?
maybe, the list the preacher gives, is of people both succeeding and failing,
sinners and saints
—faithful in so far as God has been
faithful to them.
as best they can, but ultimately relying
on God, relying on the ongoing relationship
God has with them.
on the reality that even an Idol maker
a Coward like Barak,
a Shmuck like Samson,
a fool like Jephthah,
and ALL the rest
—relying on the reality that even THEY
found a gracious God,
a faithful God,
a God who kept faith with them even
at their ugliest.
“why is Samson in the bible in the book
of “Hebrews” as a man of faith?”
Because God is faithful.
God walked with him of all people
God walks with us even on our darkest
and dumbest day.
can’t always see that, like the early Christians the Preacher of Hebrews is
we can be so put down by the things
we can see,
that we sacrifice our hope in the
invisible Grace of God,
and we can fall away.
let me remind you, if God can be faithful to Samson,
gracious to Samson,
in relationship with Samson
—he surely is with you all of your