Day 19

Samson’s Defeat and Death

from the Judges reading plan


Judges 16:1-31, Jeremiah 15:15–16, Hebrews 11:32–38

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Judges 16:1-31, Jeremiah 15:15–16, Hebrews 11:32–38

It’s hard to know how to feel about Samson. Sure, he’s listed among the judges of Israel and later manages a nod in the Hebrews “Hall of Faith” (chapter 11). But every time I read his story, I scratch my head and wonder, Why?

After all, he did sleep with prostitutes (Judges 16:1). His affair with Delilah was so toxic it reads like an episode of a certain popular dating reality TV series (vv. 4–20). He seems both arrogant and unwise, not exactly typical “man of God” material—not to mention all the killing. Isolated as a stand-alone narrative, this one feels like an outlier. But the flawed character of Samson (and the rest of the judges) is merely a lower layer of a greater story.

The heroes of our faith didn’t secure their status through flawless holiness. Every judge, every prophet, every disciple, and every deliverer had the same broken nature we do. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is the story of the most ragtag, rebellious, disappointing disciples imaginable—unless the story is not about them at all.

The stories of the judges of Israel, including Samson, and the stories of our own broken lives are merely footnotes in the bigger story—the story of a God who redeems, restores, and uses everything for our good and His glory.

Instead of trying to convince ourselves that Samson is a worthy hero, we ought to let his flaws and failures remind us of the true Judge (Matthew 25:31–46), who rescues God’s people perfectly. Like a prism, let us hold Samson’s story up to the light, looking for the truth of who God is.

Samson loved an undeserving woman who eventually betrayed him.
Jesus loves the bride of Christ, the Church, despite our long history of running from Him into the arms of other lovers.

Samson was betrayed for a few pieces of silver.
Jesus was betrayed for an even lower price, His monetary value even less than a lustful, violent Nazarite.

Samson was bound, humiliated, and tormented by the Philistines (Judges 16:19-21).
Jesus endured even worse for our sake (Isaiah 53).

Samson’s enemies rejoiced too soon. The battle was not yet over. So must it have been with the powers of darkness, as Jesus lay dead and lifeless in a borrowed tomb. But just as Samson would rise again to bring down the house of his enemies, Jesus would rise from the grave on the third day to bring down the house on sin and death. Samson secured a limited and scandalous legacy (Judges 16:31). Not Jesus! He ripped history in two. Samson died among his enemies in a heap of rubble, while Jesus kept His promise that when His enemies tore down the temple, He would rebuild it in three days (John 2:19).

Samson is a flawed frontrunner to our true Savior; therefore, Samson’s story is worth reading because it points to Someone so much better. God has provided something infinitely better for us in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 11:39–40), and because of Him, sin and death have been defeated once and for all (Romans 6:10).

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Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Post Comments (47)

47 thoughts on "Samson’s Defeat and Death"

  1. Kristen Elizabeth says:

    Judges is such a dramatic book, full of people who aren’t really walking with God, so I’ve always been a bit confused why it’s in the Bible and perhaps why sometimes these men are put in a heroes category. I’m beginning to realise they’re just the start of the story and I’m just as broken as they are. If the story ended there, we’d be in so much trouble. But Jesus came and he completes my story. What great news is that!

  2. Susan Crosby says:

    It’s very easy to focus on Samson because his story is certainly like a soap opera. The real focus is on who God is. We see His character in a powerful way. His promises are yea and amen.

  3. Keri Bayne says:

    I think I’m confused by the use of the word “judge”. Samson especially didn’t seem to be making any decisions or judging the Israelites as a mediator (Judge Judy, anyone? LOL). Am I missing something or is there another meaning to this term here?

    1. Kate Chambers says:

      My understanding of judges from a few Rabbis I know is that a better way to understand the judges is to think of them as war chiefs, or tribal chieftains. They were warrior leaders, not so much mediators or law-enforcers.

  4. Kristen Horton says:

    I love this verse: “22But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.” — somehow, I think it hints at redemption.

  5. Amanda Chapman says:

    SO POWERFUL!!

  6. Jennifer311 says:

    It’s only by God’s grace that he uses any of us. We are no different than Samson in our brokenness.
    2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

  7. Alicia says:

    Great devotional pointing to Jesus!!!

  8. Victoria Park says:

    I had never really thought about parallels between Samson and Jesus before! Great lesson thanks!

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