The sayings of King Lemuel—an oracle his mother taught him:
“O my son, O son of my womb, O son of my vows, do not spend
your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.”
Samson is an Old Testament superhero apparently brought low by a fatal flaw. He is mighty in power, vanquishing entire armies, terrifying the enemies of Israel, but his weakness for women saps him of his supernatural strength, and he is led away in defeat and humiliation. Or so goes the conventional reading of this story.
On another level, we might reduce the tale of Samson to a morality play where the son, gifted with great strength, fails to cleave to the admonition not to “spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.” But this version neglects the role that God plays in the story, for the actual account of Samson begins with the visitation of an angel to a barren and aging woman. The angel tells her that she will give birth to a son who will “be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5). The story progresses along expected lines until an act of folly delivers Samson into the hands of his enemies. He is bound, blinded, tortured, and humiliated, but then, unexpectedly, he returns and triumphs through a redeeming act that brings about his own death as well as the destruction of his enemies.
The annunciation, the miraculous birth, the great triumphs, the capture, torture, death, and final victory foreshadow a pattern of events God will use at a later time. But whereas Samson’s mission is to “begin” to deliver Israel, Jesus will complete God’s purpose by liberating not only Israel but all peoples from the bondage of sin. The story of Samson is intriguing, but it is more intriguing when read in light of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
—Eric Kampmann, Signposts