As part of our continuing series on Judges this week was Samson. I did an internet search on sermons about Samson (something I wouldn't normally do when preparing a sermon, and I hasten to add I did this at the end not the beggining) and I noticed that everyone seemed to be using Samson as an illustration of bad behaviour - e.g. don't be like Sampson. Now while this sort of moralising is OK (well, not really - but I cant get onto that now!), it sort of short circuits the point of having the Bible. Because pragmatic moral lessons are available to us whenever we read the newspaper. I argued that Sampson is more significant than this. He is the 12th of 12 judges, his story is the climax of the work of the judges before the descent into anarchy of chapter 17 onwards. He also gets four chapters devoted to him, more than any other judge. Finally his birth and death are described in more detail than any other judge. Leading me to suspect that he has some special significance.
The individual judges serve as examples of the way God saves his people. Like a road sign, they point to the reality ahead without actually representing it in great detail. All the judges point to Christ one way or another but Samson does so in a way that is especially significant:
1: A baby announced by an angel that is set apart for God's saving work
2: A person stirred-up by the Spirit of God and empowered by the same Spirit
3: A person whose greatest victory takes place through his humiliation, defeat, and death
There are of course many ways in which Samson does not represent Christ, but this broad outline of his life story in the three narrative sections of Judges 13, 14-15, and 16, clearly corresponds to the ministry of Jesus Christ and so Sampson serves as an important signpost pointing towards the saviour who will fulfill God's saving plan once and for all. And because of this the message is not "don't be like Samson" but "be like Samson - as and when Samson is like Christ." Which is something you wont find in the newspaper.
Let me know what you think :-)