Samson – Judges 13 - 16

The story of Samson may be one of the saddest in the Bible. It’s the story of a man who had purpose before he was even born, who was a superstar with incredible abilities, the poster child for someone with limitless potential. Ultimately, however, the story of  Samson is the tale of a very strong man with a very weak will. Samson failed at what was most important, and yet … despite his failures, God still used him. In fact, Samson is listed in Hebrews 11, “the hall of faith.” How can this be?

Supernatural talent and strength are nothing if our hearts aren’t in the right place. Until his eyes were gouged out and he was imprisoned, Samson seemed incapable of accepting instruction or advice; he lived for himself and let his emotions and passions guide his decisions. When Samson was betrayed by Delilah, he ended up in prison, enslaved and blinded, but the truth is that he had been blind to truth, enslaved and imprisoned by his passions and sin for most of his life. When Samson was imprisoned, he finally saw the truth of his situation, and he cried out to God. In this place where he finally surrendered everything to God, including his very life, Samson achieved the purpose for which he was created. I believe this is the reason Samson is included in the hall of faith. Not only did he finally believe that God could work through him, but he overcame the massive hurdles of regret and shame, and he received God’s forgiveness for his failures, believing that one final time, God could use him.

Samson’s story is our story; we are created by God for a purpose (Eph. 2:10) but because of our sin, we are enslaved and blind (Rom. 6:16). Our God stands ready to forgive us. When we repent, we turn from our sinful ways and surrender everything to God (Mt. 16:24). We learn that when we die to ourselves, we begin to live for God (Rom. 12:1). When we believe that God truly forgives us, we can forgive ourselves.

One final note: Judges 16:17 contains Samson’s explanation to Delilah as to the source of his supernatural strength. He says, “I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me ….” Because of his explanation, we often re-tell this story, explaining that the source of Samson’s strength was his hair. However, that is not an accurate re-telling of the story. The real story is that in 16:28, Samson finally comprehended the true source of his strength – that his amazing abilities came from God. His long hair was simply an outward sign of an inward reality – that from a young age the Spirit of the Living God was stirring in him (13:25). How tragic that his heart was not inclined to listen to the Spirit!

Our kids need to understand that those who give their lives to Christ also have the Living God of the Universe, not just stirring in them, but abiding and living within them. We want kids who know Jesus to learn to hear His voice and to obey it, and we want kids who don’t yet know Jesus to respond to the Spirit when He calls them.

Game - Who Said That? – sit in a circle. Blindfold one person, who will be the Listener. Silently point to someone else, who will come to the center of the circle and say a simple phrase, such as, “Jesus is Lord” or “Let all the earth praise the Lord.” The blindfolded person should try to identify who said it. Play several rounds, giving everyone a chance to be blindfolded. Then ask:

  • How could you tell who spoke?
  • How did it feel not to know for sure who was speaking?
  • How can we know when the Holy Spirit is speaking to us?
  • How can we know what the Holy Spirit says to us?
  • Can you tell us about a time when the Holy Spirit spoke to you? A time you were convicted of sin; the time you felt compelled to give Jesus your life; a time when you have done something to bless someone else, etc.
  • What are some things you think the Holy Spirit might have been saying to Samson?
  • It could be the Holy Spirit is speaking to some of you right now – maybe prompting you to give your life to Jesus; maybe asking you to confess some sin. Please consider talking to someone about this.

Additional questions:

What did you like about this story?

What didn’t you like?

What did you learn about God?

  • God creates us with a purpose.
  • God gives us gifts and abilities to be able to accomplish His purposes.
  • God gives His people the Holy Spirit so they will know how to live and so they will remember what Jesus taught us.
  • God stands ready to forgive us; we just need to call out to Him.
  • God is a God of second chances.

What did you learn about people?

  • We sometimes follow our feelings and desires instead of God.
  • Sometimes people listen to God better after going through hardships.
  • We sometimes forget that God is the source of our abilities and resources.
  • People can repent and be used by God even when they have failed Him.

What did you learn about yourself?

  • I want to trust God to make me into the person He plans for me to be.
  • I want to serve God with my whole heart and be willing to die for God if necessary.
  • I want to be teachable.