Friday, September 23, 2016

Samson's Ambivalent Character And What It Can Teach Us About Marriage (7QT)

Have you read the story of Samson and Delilah recently? If you have, did you know that he once caught 300 foxes, tied them together in pairs, and set their tails on fire?

I was recently reading this story to my children, and as I read it, it struck me how ambivalent Samson was. He seemed to be good, in some ways, but he also had a lot of bad things going for him.

How is he ambivalent? I'll give you seven reasons.

1. His Strength was Good
Samson was stronger than an ox. He tore apart a young lion as easily as he might have torn apart a young goat, as it says in the book of Judges. If anyone knows anything about Samson, they know for sure that he was strong.

2. He was a Part of God's Chosen People, which was Good
Samson was Jewish, from the tribe of Dan.  He was to be a Nazirite, with no razor ever touching his head as a sign that he was dedicated to God, to lead the Israelites as Judge and Leader.

3. He was sexually immoral-- which was really Bad. He visits a prostitute, and although married to a Philistine woman, he falls in love with Delilah.

4. He caused a lot of ruckus, which was Bad- he sets the tails of 300 foxes on fire, he challenges Delilah by not telling her the real source of his strength, and he repeatedly seeks revenge on his enemies.

5. He ended up killing himself along with the Philistines and that's the end for him, which was Bad:

 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

6. Sadly, Samson had strength, but it was in his hair, which was Bad.  He was a major, major hypocrite, as we can see from his actions- revenge, infidelity.  He wasn't a fit leader or judge. When his hair was long, he was unfettered. He was awesome. He was perfect. He was everything you'd want in a man... right?

7. He followed God's leading when it came to his wife, which was Good (I guess), but she was a Philistine, which was Bad (according to his parents).

Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman.When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”
His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?
But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” 4

He knew, when he met his wife, that she was the one for him. He did not, like David with Bathsheba, simply admire her beauty. He knew in his heart that she was the one. This rings true for me. I'm not sure why. He trusted a higher power, and it was a decision based on faith (even though it did not end well for them).

Well, it doesn't take long to see the analogy between Samson and our lovely country, the U.S.A.  Pardon me for stating the obvious, but while we are strong, a "Christian nation" ... (so I guess we're strong, right?), in many areas of our culture, we don't have our priorities straight at all! We have "in God we trust" on our money,  yet, we perpetuate some of the worst propaganda about sexuality in the world.

We are worse than ambivalent: I don't have to quote song lyrics for you to know that our culture is seriously vile- if you base it on what is popular on screen and in music today. I'll tell you what is mentally deranged (if Samson isn't), it's the hook-up culture co-mingled with our so-called "fear of the Lord."

Samson had good things going for him, like us, but I think Samson was also really, really lost. How would you expect Samson to be a good judge and leader if he is sleeping with prostitutes, cheating on his wife with Delilah, and showing off his great power with flashy vendettas every time he turns around? He is deeply ambivalent, and his end- which is basically an old-fashioned form of a suicide mission- it is definitely one of the saddest stories in the Bible.

But despite how sad this story ends up being, maybe- just maybe- we can learn some things from him.

First of all, I think we can say with certainty that unlike Samson's worldview, the elements of a Christian marriage (and view of sexuality) is that it is rooted in holiness and forgiveness.   Samson wanted neither of these things. He wanted power, and he wanted revenge on his enemies. The examples of divorce are endless in Hollywood. Hook-up culture is rampant. Living together isn't considered "a big deal" anymore. Marriage has been misconstrued, and we even idolize those whose example when it comes to marriage and sexuality is much less than stellar. ;)

Every Christian couple must surrender their worldly dreams and desires for these two things- holiness and forgiveness. Without realizing that marriage is meant to (1) make us holy, we miss the mark deeply. And (2) secondly, in forgiving, Christian couples recognize something that non-Christian couples do not. Both parties in a marriage are deeply responsible for sin- and we both deserve forgiveness. And with that, we must learn to apologize and ask for this forgiveness.

I do not think Samson even got to the place where he said sorry or asked for help. He was strong. He knew it. He was proud. He knew it. He was FINE; he wanted to keep his strength. He didn't care that Delilah was pushy; he lied to her several times before revealing that his hair was the key to his strength. He was deeply flawed, but he wanted revenge on his enemies, and this thirst for revenge led to his own demise. Based on his flaws, I think we can say his life was a sum total of sad, sad, sad.

I think the takeaway here is that we should stop being so much like Samson.

I think that if more marriages started out this way- based on faith- perhaps more marriages would come out stronger. And if they "ended" this way- in faith- they would last longer, and they would bear the fruit that God desires: Holiness, Forgiveness, and ultimately, Love.

linking up with Kelly @ 7QT


Ginny Morrison said...

You have some good points in this post! But let us not be quick to forget the redemption story found here. God humbles Sampson. He gives him repentance (seen when he finally turns to God in prayer asking for strength), and then uses him to crush the Philistines and help the Israelites. Not a suicide mission, but a self-sacrificial act that points us to Christ's saving work on the cross. And then the gospel comfort of seeing Sampson's name in the hallmark of faith in Hebrews 11. Sampson was a prideful, lustful, self-indulgent adulterer. Christ died for sinners like Sampson, for sinners like me. Thanks be to God!

Tacy said...

He spends his life in a bloodthirsty state of revenge. I can see your point and I know the Philistines are the bad guys here. But his frame of mind was not virutous or righteous for most of his life, so?