Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday Wanderings: Samson

We’re still in a section of Judges that I have recently preached, so I’ll link you back there first:

Now, on to today’s thoughts regarding Samson.

First, I find it interesting more and more how we tell Bible stories to children. Looking at the Gospel Project material that we are using, there are parts left out, and that’s often the case. For example, we don’t children the parts about Samson’s first fiancé being ‘given’ to the best man—or her and her father’s subsequent murder by angry mob.

Not that I think we need to bury children with such evil, but I think something is to be said for being careful not to make heroes of people for kids that we then deflate when they are adults. Or to sugarcoat them. Perhaps they are best left untold. Or done with what VeggieTales did with David and Bathsheba, and make a fairytale that covers the material differently. Kids can put together that King George’s rubber ducks were a stand-in for King David’s many wives. When they’re teenagers. You can learn the lesson without destroying a kid’s innocence.

Just a rambling there, but I think there’s got to be a better approach, or at least a more balanced one.

Second, Samson’s life sure seems to come back to missed opportunities and what-might-have-beens. He was distracted by his immediate needs and desires, driven by them even.

It’s a call for moderation in our lives. And for self-control.

Third, there’s the lesson here about being careful who you trust. There is not a single participant in this narrative that is trustworthy, except the Angel of the Lord. And He’s in and out pretty quickly.

Parents turn out less than trustworthy, family, spouses, friends, fellow countrymen. It’s just a mess. Trust the trustworthy—and verify as needed.

Fourth, there’s the whole Angel of YHWH and identity thing. Especially considering the “What is your name?” “Why ask? It is incomprehensible.” (Judges 13:17-18)

When you look at this, “incomprehensible” is the same word in Hebrew as “wonderful.” Or “Wonderful” as in Isaiah 9:6. Just an interesting set of words here.

Fifth, why does Samson lose his strength? DISOBEDIENCE. The haircut was the image of that—the final straw in the sack, so to speak.

Sixth, I remember being taught as a kid that Samson told the boy who brought him in to run away. But that’s not in the text. The boy, first of all, could have been a teenager and not a small kid. Second, he’s likely the son of one of the leaders of the Philistines. Probably he never left, and died with the Philistines.

Finally, Samson has half the judgeship span of the previous judge, and far less of the effectiveness. Yet he is the most ‘perfect’ of the judges: heroic in battle, attractive to women, strong…

Of all the judges, he’d win in an American election hands-down. What does that say of us?

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