The story of Samson is a staple Sunday school study, and young children are often most impressed by his incredible supernatural strength. However, Samson is a fascinating character because his feats of strength are contrasted with his giving in to very human urges and impulses. Samson is able to defeat an entire army of Philistines with nothing more than a donkey’s jawbone (Judg. 15:14-17), but he is taken captive by a single beautiful woman (Judg. 16:4-6).
Paul outlines a choice for us, similar to Samson’s: make ourselves slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness.
It appears from the Biblical account that Samson and Delilah were never married, but Samson certainly loved Delilah (Judg. 16:4), so much so that he was eventually willing to tell her that his Nazarite vow was the source of his strength, and that if his hair was cut, his vow would be broken and his strength would be gone (Judg. 16:17). He reveals this crucial detail to her after she has already attempted to betray him three times – we have to wonder what Samson was thinking, since Delilah’s loyalties had already been made clear! While Samson was only made physically captive after his hair had been cut, in reality it was because he was already captive to his impulses and lusts that he decided to trust Delilah.
The Lord Jesus said that “everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34), a concept that the Apostle Paul picks up in his letter to the Romans:
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16)
While Samson was only made physically captive after his hair had been cut, in reality it was because he was already captive to his impulses and lusts that he decided to trust Delilah.
Paul outlines a choice for us, similar to Samson’s: make ourselves slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. The wonderful aspect of this truth is that we have a choice: history has traditionally made the contrast between slavery and freedom, but true freedom is more than the absence of slavery, but the ability to choose your Master. Samson chose his lust for Delilah as his master, and in so doing broke his vow to God.
Later in his life, we see Samson’s redemption as he achieved his greatest victory. Even as he was blinded, chained and held captive by the Philistines, Samson called upon God to remember him, and re-dedicated his life in service to God as he proclaimed:
“Let me die with the Philistines” (Judg. 16:30).
Despite his physical captivity, Samson’s choice to serve God freed him from his slavery to his sin and lusts, and instead made God his master. Samson discovered freedom in his ability to choose between sin and obedience, lust and righteousness. Paul makes it clear that we too have the freedom of that choice, that ability to choose our master; to choice the path of sin or the path of righteousness. In that decision lies the truest freedom.
Ben Jones, The Church of God in Hamilton, ON