Jihadist Suicide Bomber? The Gospel and Samson

I remember having a conversation with my brothers and a friend of theirs in which the subject of Samson’s salvation came up. Their friend exclaimed, “I don’t even know if that guy was regenerate!” Of course Samson broke his Nazarite vow on several occasions, made multiple rendezvous with pagan women, cohabited with one, and committed suicide in some vain attempt to take vengeance on the Philistines for “one of his two eyes” that they had put out. Not to mention this guy’s temper was out of control! Samson was the Israelite equivalent of William Wallace crossed with Hugh Hefner. So the question comes, “Is he saved? Or is he an Israelite Jihadist suicide bomber?”

Hebrews 11 says that Samson is a hero of the faith. He was a champion in Israel who pointed us forward to the Champion Jesus Christ! In Samson’s day God gave Israel over to the Philistines because of their compromise with the surrounding culture! In the midst of all of this national chaos and strife God focuses His Story on a barren couple, Manoah and his wife. The Angel of the Lord announces a miracle birth to them and says the child will begin to deliver Israel. Samson is born, grows, and it is clear that God is with him. He is anointed with the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t mean that he is ready for a TV preaching ministry. Anointing from the Holy Spirit means war! He is a warrior who accomplishes mighty things: rips a lion to shreds with his bare hands, kills 30 Philistines, etc. Yet, all of these mighty things are tainted by his compromise with the enemy culture and its women.

In spite of the failures in Samson’s life he does point us forward to the Great Deliverer. God would deliver his people through 1 man! There was another man whose miraculous birth was foretold by an Angel. There was another man anointed by the Spirit who took on the enemies of God. There was another man betrayed by his own people and given over to pagan oppressors because His countrymen were so at ease with the foreign culture. There was another man whose close companion betrayed him with a kiss for silver. There was another man who was arrested, not blinded, but blindfolded, and made sport of. There was another man who was humiliated by his enemies. There was another man who looked forsaken by God and defeated by His enemies. There was another man whose death crushed the head of His enemies (and ours!)! This man did not suffer for his own sins as Samson did, but for the sins of the world. This man’s name is Jesus of Nazareth. “He gained a greater victory in His death than he did in his life.” Jesus’ prayer was the same as Samson’s, “Remember me!” God heard that prayer and pulled his Son out of death, crushing the enemies and freeing his oppressed people from bondage to sin and the fear of death. Samson’s deliverance pales in comparison to Jesus’ deliverance of His people.

The question comes, “Was Samson a suicide bomber?” No! Did he die deliberately? Yes. He died in the same way a soldier sacrifices himself to gain a victory. This determination points forward to a greater sacrifice, where Jesus set his face like flint toward Jerusalem, determined to go and suffocate to death on a cross to free His people! He said, “No one takes my life from me. I lay it down!” That is holy warfare. That is a Jihad. This Jihadist does not take the life of innocents. This Jihadist stood in the place of the guilty as the only innocent and drowned so they could be acquitted!

My brothers’ friend stood in amazement with a smile on his face when I told him that Samson was a type of the warrior-savior, Jesus Christ. I stood their in amazement too. I was amazed that sinners like Jon, Paul, Eric, and Samson can hear the words “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I was amazed that someone went to war for us. He was no Hugh Hefner Braveheart with face-paint on. His face was covered in blood!