[ The following is an unedited, unabridged post by C.J. taken from a thread on http://www.sermonindex.net. ]
Sampson: The Greatest Type of Christ in the Old Testament.
It goes without saying, that of the handful of people that are listed in Hebrews 11, there is none as controversial as that of Samson. Most messages that I’ve heard on him leave the impression that this man was a failure, a failure that just happened to straighten out in the very end. As a matter of fact, it was a challenge to find anything among the moderns of a positive nature, for most writers had little good to say of him, and many went so far as to imply that it was a mistake that he was even mentioned in the ‘Faith chapter’ at all, because of what they see as three grievous sins in his life.
SAMSON’S 3 MISTAKES WHICH RUINED HIS LIFE…
1) Dishonered his parents (by marrying the woman from Timnath).
2) Defiled his person by eating the wrong meal (honey from the lion carcass).
3) Defended his pride.
Not very flattering words. It seems that the consensus among the majority is that Samson was a failure and somehow managed to slip into Hebrews 11 by the skin of his teeth. But it was God that placed Samson among the giants of faith, listing him by name no less, and with God there are no mistakes. So why the controversy?
I think the answer lies in the fact that although we acknowledge with our lips that our right standing before God comes through faith, we sometimes inwardly hold on to the Old Covenant way, which is the way of works. This is why I believe God’s view of Samson is so different from many men that hold such a negative view of Samson. God understands us and sees us how we are.
WHY SAMSON IS IN THE HALL OF FAITH
It seems necessary to show that he truly does belong in Hebrews 11, and also call into question the harsh judgements made by many on his life. I hope to do this in showing two basic points.
- SAMSON IS ONE OF THE GREATEST OLD TESTAMENT TYPES OF CHRIST: For it goes without saying, that if he is found as a clear picture or type of Christ, then the only conclusion that could be drawn, is that he would have to be a great man of faith, for God would not picture his Son through a faithless failure.
- SAMSON WALKED THROUGH THIS LIFE WITH INCREDIBLE FAITH: Not just in the last couple hours as many claim. Now the word is faith, not law. Hebrews 11 doesn’t list the men that had the cleanest records (for otherwise David may have been excluded), nor the ones that played it safe and protected their reputations among men the best (for then the Pharisees would have been found here). Hebrews 11 is not nicknamed the ‘Hall of Law Keeping’. It lists those that were sure of the unseen, who believed in God’s promises, who had their praise from God and not men. (Rom 2:29)
SAMSON IS ONE OF THE GREATEST O.T TYPES OF CHRIST:
Background and Introduction:
Samson was from the tribe of Dan and was the last of Israel’s judges, most likely in direct fulfillment the prophecy, “Dan shall judge his people” from Genesis 49:16. It is important to note that the days of the judges are listed as the darkest days of Israel’s history, a condition that makes the faith of Samson shine all the brighter, for it was a terrible time to be given the task of leading this nation. It was in this time when Israel was being oppressed by the cruel Philistines for the wickedness that they themselves had committed, that God ordained Samson, before his birth, to begin the deliverance of his people, (for David would finish it some years later). Samson’s life and calling are very unusual and even appear odd at times, so it is important to see that Samson was set apart by God not so much to imitate, but rather to see a picture of the coming Savior. Consider one commentator’s words …..
“…but the truth is Samson himself was a riddle, a paradox of a man, who did that which was really great and good, by that which was seemingly weak and evil, because he was designed not to be a pattern to us (who must walk by rule, not example), but a type of him who, though he knew no sin, was made sin for us, and appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh that he might condemn and destroy sin in the flesh.”
Now because my time is far too short to include all the aspects of Samson himself and his life, let’s look at some of the events in which God used Samson to be a type or foreshadow of Jesus Christ and the great faith he had to walk this incredibly difficult road of deliverer of Israel.
1. THE CALLING OF SAMSON (Chapter 13:1-5)
- -Samson was chosen before he was born to begin Israel’s deliverance… The only man who shared this in common with the Lord. “For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son… and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (13:5)
- -Samson’s mother was barren. As was Isaac’s, Jacob’s, John’s, and Samuel’s. Type of the virgin birth. “And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.” (13:2)
- -Samson’s birth was announced to his mother by the ‘angel of the LORD‘, as was the Jesus’ by an angel to Mary. In Sampson’s case this was most likely Jesus Christ preincarnate, “And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?” (13:18) “And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” (13:22)
- -The meaning of his name. It means ‘Sun’. Surely he would be a type of the Son and surely he would be a light shining in a very dark time. “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings….” (Mal 4:2)
- -He is called to be a deliverer, to begin the deliverance of Israel from their enemies. “He shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (13:5) Samson will be a type of Christ in that Christ is the deliverer of His people and “bear the government on his shoulders” (Is 9:6).
- -He is called to be a nazarite for life, “For the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.” (13:7) He is the first one mentioned in the Bible, and the only lifelong nazarite who gets his commission from God himself, like Christ. Samson was told by his parents that God had called him to be separated unto God from common society for life as a Nazarite, and he believed them, and he believed God. That is faith. So we begin to see from the very start that Samson was different, set apart by God to be used for his purposes. His entry into the world was proclaimed from heaven itself. The favor of God was upon the Danite, from the time before his conception. We must see these things to understand not only the man, but more importantly the special call on his life, and the special grace of God upon him to sustain him during the most incredible demands that any man has ever had to endure. The parallels between his birth and the birth of our Lord are incomparable and undeniable as a type of Christ.
2. SAMSON TAKES A GENTILE BRIDE. (Chapter 14)
- – The Spirit of the Lord had already, scripture says, began to move Samson at times,“And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times” (13:25). Given his calling, we can assume the Spirit moved him at times to reveal the daring, courage and most likely the strength (which God never promised at any time) that he would need to strike out against the Philistines.
- -“And Sampson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Tinmath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman of Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her fro me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. But his father and his mother knew not that t was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the philistines: for at the time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.” Here Samson asks his father for a gentile bride. While it was not very popular with his parents, Samson respects their authority and involves them. Though debated, this marriage does not appear to be forbidden as the Phillistines were not mentioned in (Deut 7:1-4).
- -Sampson thus types Christ who sought a gentile bride. Sampson sought her not because of beauty (“Is not her younger sister fairer than she?” [15:2]), but because of his love for her as Christ has also done for us.
- -In doing so Samson, as Christ did, made Israel jealous, “Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?” (14:3)
- -Samson furthermore, shows incredible faith in pursuing that which was of God, but what men couldn’t understand. As we will see, he sought praise from God over men, even mother and father. This is the first act of Israel’s deliverance in his his taking a gentile bride (interesting parallel with the church) and we see Samson walking in faith according to the will of God. “But his father and his mother knew not that t was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the philistines: for at the time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.” (14:4)
3. DESTROYS THE LION IN THE VINEYARD. (14:5-6)
- -”Then went Samson down… and came to the vineyards of Timnath...” (14:5) Here is a especially possible testing of his faith and obedience because he was a nazarite. (Given the extreme length of the vow, it is noteworthy that though alone here in a vineyard, he abstains. What an incredible obedience to parents and God and more so a faith in God!) Here is the type: Christ in the wilderness.-”And behold, a young lion roared against him.” (14:5) This is not a cub, but a creature in it’s prime and most fierce state. Here we see the Spirit of the Lord comes ‘mightily’ upon Samson to destroy the beast with his bare hands as though he was a kid. Samson’s faith and guidance from God will take him into some of the most dangerous places and situations that any man has ever come across, yet God was always faithful and his grace was Samson’s strength. As we look at the many times in which the ‘Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon Samson‘, consider if it would be consistent with the rest of the Old Testament for God to do this if at the time Samson was acting contrary to God’s will and in selfish, faithless acts of sin?
- -Samson’s killing of the lion could be a picture of Satan attacking Christ, “And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent himm as he would have rent a kid.” (14:5) Through Jesus’ victory over Satan, He destroyed Satan and defeated death, thus the sweetness of the Gospel and the resurrection came from, or out of, Satan’s defeat, “And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.” (14:8). This passage also illustrates well that that in the conflict between the Lord and Satan, Satan is no match, but like a small goat against a mighty warrior.
- -Samson’s faith is shown as he takes on the lion with nothing in his hand, “And he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand.” (14:6). The power of the Spirit of God is displayed as well as the faith of Samson in all his conquests, for not once in his life does he ever use a man-made weapon of war, though he accomplishes the greatest single-handed victories ever had by any man. “…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD.” (Zech 4:6)
- -Only a man of faith, one that knew the source of his strength was from God, and not himself, could have this kind of humility that he told no one of what he did, not even his parents who were but a little ways away. “But he told not his father or his mother what he had done.” (14:6) I think most young men wouldn’t mind letting their dad know they had just ripped a lion apart with their bare hands, but Samson said nothing.
4. THE WEDDING FEAST (14:8-20)
- -Samson comes to prepare the wedding feast as Christ the bridegroom prepares the wedding feast His mostly gentile bride, the church., “And Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.” (14:10)
- -Samson comes speaking ‘dark sayings‘ or parables, “I will now put forth a riddle unto you…” (14:12) Similarly, Psalm 78:2 prophesied that the Lord would open his, “mouth in a parable” and utter, “dark sayings of old” as he began his ministry that the Father gave him to do. “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Matt 13:10)
- -So, after much pressure, Samson reveals the riddle of the honey in the lion to his gentile bride. “And it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him.” (14:17) Just as Christ took aside his disciples and privately shared the meaning of his parables. The honey out of the lion appears to be a picture of the gospel as already mentioned.
- -Samson’s bride tells the meaning of the riddle to her friends, “And she told the riddle to the children of her people.” (14:17) who in turn receive new garments from Samson. Here the spreading of the gospel is typed, as the church, or bride of Christ shares the truth of Salvation and those that hear it with understanding receive new garments, which always picture salvation.
- -Samson then leaves his bride in the care of a companion and goes back up to his father’s house until the time of the harvest. “And he went up to his father’s house...” Here is another amazing parallel to the events of Christ and the church, as the bride was left in the care of Holy Spirit, “But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.” (14:20) While Christ went up to his Father’s house, and will return in what He called the time of the harvest “But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife” (15:1).
- -Samson shows as an incredible type of Christ here, foreshadowing events in such detail as none others do in the Old Testament concerning the Lords marriage to the gentile church, all the while walking alone amongst those hostile to him as he fulfills the will of God. Has Samson acted in total sin and faithlessness, or does God have him move in peculiar ways for His own purposes?
5. SAMSON STRIKES OUT AGAINST ISRAEL’S ENEMIES AS THE GOD-APPOINTED DELIVERER (15:1-8)
- – In response to the ill treatment he received from his father in law, Samson uses this as an opportunity strike out against the Philistines, as the Lord had purposed back in Chapter 14:4. “And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the PHilistines, though I do them a displeasure.” (15:3)
- -Samson catches 300 foxes that he ties tail to tail on fire, then sends them out in this dry harvest time to destroy the Philistines crops. This man of faith fears not the consequence of such radical action, for who would be foolish enough not to expect immediate retribution from the oppressing and cruel Philistines once this act was carried out? Who of us would run to the chance to strike out against the churches enemies, in any fashion, with this magnitude as a lone instigator and aggressor? Keep in mind that these actions were in no way a personal vendetta, but rather the obedient response to God’s call on his life from birth to deliver Israel and act as a one man military.
- -After the Philistines respond by burning his wife and father-in-law, Samson responds with a most amazing statement, that ‘Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.‘ (15:7) Are there many men who compare to Samson when it comes to faith? God had told him that he would begin Israel’s deliverance, and see how this man exercises the most incredible faith and zeal as he continues to pursue his enemies as the public judge of Israel! Not only does he declare another single-handed war is about to commence with the Philistines, but has the faith in God’s power to let them know that after he “smites them hip and thigh with a great slaughter” (15:8), that he will cease his vengeance for the death of his wife! It is surreal, the faith that Samson exercised as Israel’s lone deliverer.
6. ISRAEL’S BETRAYAL OF SAMSON. SAMSON’S SAVING OF ISRAEL.
- -Here is found, in my opinion, one of the strongest acts of faith that Samson put forth of all. When we stop for a moment and consider the incredible grandeur of the type of Christ and the events of Christ’s life that are pictured here, mingled with the atrocious treatment of the Jews against him, it makes one marvel at the enduring faith of Samson, and we can say in agreement with Hebrews 11:38 that of a surety, ‘the world was not worthy of servants such as these‘.
- -Now we find Samson is resting in the cave of Etam, probably assured that the Philistines would come for him, now that he had slaughtered many of them in an open, lop-sided war. Just as Christ had nowhere to lay his head, we never see Samson in a home, but instead always on the move as the Spirit of God led him. He may have done this even for the safety of the Jews. But as we see, it is not the Philistines that take Samson initially, but his own people.
- -3,000 men of Judah (the strong tribe symbolized by the lion) approach Samson. Though they are gathered in this great multitude in the presence of their fearless, God-appointed deliverer, yet they come to bind him and hand him over to their enemies. “And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines” (15:12) Even in the presence of one such as Samson who has proved both willing and able to begin their deliverance, they would have nothing of the sort. Yet Samson is unshaken in faith or zeal, though all those around him have abandoned him.
- -The picture of Christ is incredibly clear and vivid….Joh 1:11 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” In removing Samson they promise to not kill Samson themselves, but hand him over to those that will do it with far more malice and cruelty, so was Jesus rejected by his own and handed over to the gentiles to be tortured and crucified. “And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves. And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand.” (15:12-13)
- -So they bind Samson, their kinsmen and God-sent deliverer, and take him to the Philistines. Consider yet again the great faith and meekness seen here in this Judge, for though it would have been as nothing to destroy those that came to bind him, he meekly submits and allows them to carry him away ‘as a lamb to the slaughter‘, without so much as a complaint, or a skirmish. What a picture of Christ in the garden, who’s very words leveled the Roman soldiers to the ground, yet meekly let those that were so much weaker, carry him away to be tortured and killed.
- -When the Philistines see him they ‘shouted against him‘. Think of what this would do to most men’s spirit: you’ve just been taken by your own people and carried bound to a thousand screaming Philistines who want nothing but your slow, painful death. You’ve no weapon. You’re all alone. You’ve nothing but the God-given mandate to deliver the people that don’t want to be saved. But ‘where the Spirit is there is Liberty‘, and Samson’s cords that bound him fell as though they were burnt flax, for the Spirit of the Lord came ‘mightily upon him‘ . “And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.” (15:14) As three thousand from the tribe of Judah watch fearfully or run away, Samson reaches down and picks up a jawbone and with it slays a thousand men single-handedly. “And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.” (15:15) Have we seen a picture like this in the entire Old Testament that speaks so strong that salvation is of the Lord, whose strength and might and fury none can withstand? Who better than Samson shows the wrath that Christ will bring against his enemies?
- – The fact that Samson was ever once in the very least, aided by a single person or weapon in the carrying out Israel’s deliverance is the greatest foreshadowing of the coming Lion of Judah and of his incomparable faith in God. (The Lord never used a conventional weapon, nor will He at His second coming) He stood completely alone in the midst of his own people. “And Sampson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.” (15:16)
7. THE MIDDLE 20 YEARS ARE MISSING
- -Just like the account of the Lord’s life, there is no record of the prime of Samson’s life, other than that he judged his people, and in both cases it is approximately 20 years.
8. DELILAH’S BETRAYAL OF SAMSON
- -As Samson was betrayed by Delilah for silver, so was Christ betrayed by a supposed friend for silver as well. “And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.” (16:5) It is incredible to see the similarities between Samson and Jesus as they allow one they know to be a deceiver and betrayer such close proximity and fellowship. It is noteworthy that while Samson is scorned for faithlessness and sin, consider the astonishing cruelty that surrounded Samson in every recorded event of his life, by the Philistines as well as his own people. No wonder the account says that Samson’s “soul was vexed unto death” (16:16) as it said the same of Christ in the garden.
9. SAMSON AS HE TYPES THE LORD AND THE CROSS
- -“And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.” (16:3) Why in the world did Samson do this? For it is considered by many the single greatest act of strength ever carried out by a man. The gates, bar and all, would have been too much for any who has ever lived, and yet he carried them possibly 20 miles through sandy ground to the top of a hill overlooking Hebron. And why is this feat of all feats dropped between vs 2 and 4 for no explained reason?
- -I believe that this is a picture of Jesus and the cross. The Philistines thought they had Samson trapped in Gaza, ”And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city” (16:2) but rather he comes down at midnight and rips the city gates right off, and carries them to the top of a hill outside the city. This can’t be coincidental, for it is the exact same thing our Lord did with His cross. He put it on His shoulders, and carried it outside the city to the top of a hill. -John 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” So it is here, that Samson carries this great door and places it on the top of the hill outside the city. They thought this city of Gaza could contain him. But just as Gaza could not hold Samson, in essence so it is with the Lord. Death and hell could not hold him. He took the cross, or this great gate and carried it to the top of a hill where the great entrance to heaven could be seen. We need to see Christ carrying the cross as mighty Samson carrying the gate. Not week and feeble, but full of strength and power.
- -The last event is Samson’s greatest moment as a deliverer of his people. As you know, Samson was called by God to be a nazarite for his entire life. He was never to cut his hair. When Delilah betrayed him and his hair was cut, we read that the Spirit of God departed from him for a time. He lost his strength, had his eyes put out, was mocked and abused at the hands of his captors while they made sport of him. Then they brought him out to be a spectacle for all of them to see as they praised their god Dagon for the victory. Can you see Satan at this party laughing and stirring the people against the Lord’s anointed? It was at this time that the Philistines led Samson out in sight of all, and placed him between the two pillars. It was here that Samson asked God to strengthen him one last time. Samson believed in the Lord. It takes more faith to humbly come to God after great defeat, especially that of our own sins, than at any other, but he believed that God was the rewarder of those that diligently seek him, that he was the ‘God of all grace‘, and so he was.
- -Again, the type of Christ that Samson is here is hard to miss. Without being able to see, Samson is mocked and scorned by the Philistines. “And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?” (Luke 22:64)
- -Christ willingly came to die as a man, he meekly put himself at the mercy of men that hated him. Samson lost his strength because the Spirit of the Lord had departed from him when his hair was cut, when he sinned by going against the separation of purity in the Nazarite vow. “And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.” (16:20) But the Spirit of God departed from Christ at the cross as he was made sin in our place, where he felt weakness and separation from the Father, after so long being separated unto the Father, so that he could be a high priest that understood the feeling of our infirmities, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
- -God heard Samson and gave him the strength to overcome his enemies, and as it returned, with outstretched arms, Samson laid down his life, just as Jesus would do at the cross. “And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.” (16:30) Consider the words of Jesus in John 10:18 concerning His life “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
And this is why no man could ever be a perfect picture of the Lord, for only he was without sin, only he had life within himself and of himself. But Samson helps us see the coming Deliverer, for with him there is no self pity, complaint or even asking God why he was given this lifelong burden to bear. From the beginning he was separated unto God to be a nazarite, a deliverer of God’s people and a judge over them. Not one complaint, not one instance of shrinking back though always alone in his calling. And here at his death is no exception. Consider his request, ‘God give me strength to finish what you gave me to do’. With head bowed and filled with strength, he feels the pillars with outstretched arms, and though blind without his eyes, I think that of all the men of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11, probably Samson, more than any other, was looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith.Now…… one last thing that I didn’t mention about the Nazarites and their vows that I found of interest. In Numbers 6, we read that at the end of the time of their vow, when the time of this special separation unto God was complete, they were to do two things; first they were to have their heads shaved. And second, they were to offer up to God a sacrifice. Now, if anyone knew the demands of the Nazarite vow, it would be Samson. Look at the sacrifice that Samson offered up unto God from between the pillars.
- He was the first Nazarite mentioned in the bible.
- He was the only lifelong Nazarite ordained by God from before his birth.
- He was the only Nazarite who offered up himself, as a sacrifice to God, with outstretched arms, to complete his vow and his calling.
- He was the only one…. , except for Jesus.