5 Reasons Samson was a Great Judge

In my mind, I always viewed Samson as the bumbling judge, wondering if he made it in the Bible just for sheer entertainment purposes.  It seems like he always stumbling over himself, and being made a fool like a circus sideshow.  Rereading his story over the last couple weeks and dipping into the commentary of the Fathers (especially St. Ambrose), I am thinking differently about this man.

He wasn't perfect, but there is much that is admirable about him.  Here's at least 5 reasons, Samson stands out as a true hero and faithful judge.

1.  He was a thorn to Israel.  Unlike previous judges, there was no cry from Israel for deliverance from their oppressor.  God raised up Samson to deliver Israel from their own complacency.  They embraced their Philistine master allowing themselves to become assimilated into this pagan people, losing their identity as God's covenant people.  He irritated Israel.  Judah seemed frustrated at his actions, arresting him to deliver to Philistia.  Samson stirs up the Philistines so that Israel will return to God.

2.  He was a pest to the Philistines.  Samson unlike other judges, had no army, no followers, and apparently few friends.  He was a one man wrecking crew.  Philistia had subdued Israel and maintained a level of peace in the land, but Samson would not allow it.  He caused trouble at every turn, creating animosity between Philistia and Israel.

3.  He was faithful to his calling. At least until the Delilah incident Samson remained faithful.  In his first story, it seems he is being disobedient to the customs of Israel, and creating fools of his parents, but the text is clear that he is being directed by the Spirit of God.

4.  He was willing to stand alone.  Philistia hated him, and his fellow Jews betrayed him but he remained faithful as a deliverer, even at the end of his life, he remembers this calling and refuses to end his life faithless to His covenant God.

5.  He finished well.  The image of Samson grabbing the pillars of the Philistine temple with such force that the building collapses on himself and all the those Philistine revelers is the picture of Samson familiar to us all.  In that moment, he remembers his God and cries out for deliverance.  On one hand it is an image of repentance that delivers from the slavery of sin, and on the other He becomes a type of Christ sacrificing Himself to destroy the enemy of mankind delivering all from the slavery of sin.

In many ways Samson reminds me of the Holy Fool that belittles himself, making other believes he is stupid or lacking in mental capabilities, exposing the pride and ironically the foolishness of much of society.  It wasn't until Samson threw off this mantle of humility thinking himself untouchable that his slide into unfaithfulness began.  Through the Philistine's forced humiliation of shearing his head, gouging his eyes, and treating him like a beast of burden, he accepted that mantle of foolishness once again, sacrificing his life to defeat the enemy of his people.


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