Samson – hero or zero? 5

Pearls Before Swine - February 20, 2009

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis

I hope you weren’t looking for a thoughtful post on the biblical character of Samson and why we should possibly consider him a “hero” of the Bible. I mostly wanted an excuse to share this cartoon with you.

As it happens we were talking about Judges and Samson this week in class. I know that there is some very good scholarship out there on this subject, but I still find it difficult to find very much redeeming about Samson. He is a horny, selfish git whose sole redeeming quality (from the biblical author’s perspective) seems to be the fact that he kills lots of Philistines. Judges 14:4 is a particularly troubling verse:

“His father and mother did not realize that this was the LORD’s doing: He was seeking a pretext against the Philistines.”

I know that this falls into the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart category. Still, it is troubling if you are anyone other than Richard Dawkins (who find such passages merely affirm his preconceived assumptions about religion in general and Christianity and Judaism in particular).

So other than his Rambo like characteristics, what redeeming qualities are there to Samson?


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5 thoughts on “Samson – hero or zero?

  • John

    One lesson from Samson is that you can always trust God, but you cant always trust another person. God was the source of his main talent, his strength. God was always there when Samson needed Him. Even though he had to pay regarding his strength source indiscretion, God was always there when Samson cooperated. A strength would be that he didnt blame God for the loss of his main asset, but continued to work for the accomplishment of God’s purpose for him, even though it cost him his life.

  • Chris Brady Post author

    But John, did Samson really use his talent to its fullest and greatest effect? Did God make Samson strong merely to kill Philistines? And even if his was strong merely to kill Philistines, then why kill them in such a haphazard manner? Other “judges” were at least able to organize armies and subdue the enemies so that there was peace for the region for a time. All Samson did was poke and prod, killing many but not bringing any sort of stability and no leadership.

    And what about the judges as those who called the people back to worshiping the Lord? See Judges 3:16-23. Samson doesn’t really fit that model at all.

    There is no doubt that we can find lessons to learn from Samson, as with anything else, but I am still left wondering about his character.

  • Jim Getz

    Samson is an anti-hero. The whole book of Judges is a slow slide into anarchy which creates the need for a king in 1 Sam. If it weren’t for Hebrews 11:32 I’m convinced that no one would seriously argue we view Samson as anything but a schmuck.

  • Miles

    It took me a few months but I finally completed a detailed analysis of Samson and the things we don’t like about him. It runs to about 5,000 words so I don’t think I can post it here. I found, when all the biblical evidence is considered, that he truly was a hero – misunderstood by theologians but clearly, logically a real hero – someone that I, as a christian, could aspire to emulating. If anyone wants the analysis they can email me. If there is someway I can attach a pdf to this forum please let me know.