4.29 Judges -- Samson 2
c. Samson and the Sunday Schools
Honestly, Samson is an embarrassment to those who believe in the plenary inspiration of Scripture. The G-rated version of his life goes something like this: "If only Samson had maintained the purity of his calling, and kept God first in his life, if he had learned to discipline himself against emotions of anger and fleshly lusts, what a great leader he could have been instead of a tragic hero." (See NIV Study Bible footnote p. 353 on Judg 16:1). So they concoct the ideal of the moral Samson, because the real man of the Bible is a rebel, a man of mayhem and anarchy, an extremist. The closest parallel in American history would be someone like John Brown. So there is no Samson "modality" in modern Christian experience, one does not aspire for one's children to grow up in the mold of this man.
But the truth of it is that his spirituality and his wildness were all of a piece, you cannot excise one aspect of his life without affecting the rest of it. If his birth was so carefully orchestrated by God, as Scripture says, and his parents raised him so carefully according to the wisdom they sought from God -- how can we doubt that the finished product was precisely the tool God intended to use for His purpose in that age? The amazing thing here is not Samson's evident excesses and failures, but the fact that God used them as opportunities for Him to manifest Himself. Samson's lusts and Samson's temper got him into situations in which God could show Himself powerful against Israel's enemies -- not "in spite of" Samson's hotheadedness, but because of it. For the conventional believer, prayer and devotion are open doors to the Spirit, but for Samson, when he went looking for trouble, God backed him up with all the power of the Holy Spirit.
After getting revenge on the Philistines for killing his wife, Samson took refuge in a cave. The Philistines were too scared of him to attack him directly, so they sent an army of subservient Judahites against him. It is a sad testimony to the subjection of Israel that these 3000 men came to take Samson captive, rather than volunteer to go to war if he would lead them. These men tied him up with ropes and handed him over to a mob of Philistines. His own racial and religious brothers deserted and betrayed him. But once again, the Holy Spirit came upon him, and in a frenzy he slaughtered 1000 men with the jawbone of an ass (Judg 15:14-15).