Judges 16:30 “And Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’”
Samson was such an enigma. Here was one who was set apart to God as a Nazirite “from the womb to the day of his death” (Judges 13:7). He was set apart for the work of saving Israel from the hand of the Philistines (Judges 13:5). This was God’s call on his life. Yet, during his entire life he led a curious existence of being a companion to those who were also his enemies. He married and had affairs with Philistine women and feasted with their friends. Yet these “friends” constantly sought to do him wrong, eventually put out his eyes, bound him in shackles, and made a mockery of him. Then, in the end, Samson died with 3,000 of them as he pulls down the pillars of the house where they were rejoicing in their victory over him and making sacrifices to the idol Dagon.
What a strange and curious account of this judge, this savior of Israel. So, like the many other shadows and types of the Old Testament, is this a shadow of something in the New Testament? Does the life and death of Samson point to something that is much greater? As I’ve meditated on the story of Samson, whose birth and life were prophesied by “the angel of the Lord” whose name is “Wonderful” (Judges 13:18), I thought of some awesome truths about our Savior, Jesus Christ, that the story of Samson typifies. You see, like Samson, Jesus was set apart to God from the time of His birth until His death. His was the highest calling, i.e., to bring salvation to the entire world. But the way He did this was so very strange. You see, Jesus, Who was separate from sinners and dwelt from all eternity in a place of absolute holiness where God is continually worshipped, came to make his home on this earth that was so marred by sin and live among the sinners that occupied it. Jesus came to earth to be known as “a friend of sinners,” but unlike Samson, he never participated in any of that sin.
Though man had universally prostituted himself to other gods, Jesus demonstrated love to them. And though He came unto His own, His own received Him not. Then, like the Philistines who sought to know the secret of Samson’s strength and wanted to know what made him so different from them, throughout Jesus’ life there were many who wanted to know his secrets as well. And like the Philistines, who sought this information not for a good purpose but for an evil one, so Jesus’ enemies were seeking a way to destroy Him as they plied Him with their questions. So often Jesus, like Samson, answered them with parables, riddles if you will. Rather than tell them plainly who He was, He spoke to them in obscurities and hid His identity for a time. But then this exchange from Luke 22:67-71 as it came time for Jesus to die: “’If you are the Christ, tell us.’ But He said to them, ‘If I tell you, you will not believe,and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.’ So they all said, ‘Are you the Son of God, then?’ And he said to them, ‘You say that I am.’ Then they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.’” And the result? They put Him to a gruesome death.
But here’s where Samson’s death is such a wonderful type of the death of Christ. You see, like Samson, who was tortured and mocked before His death, Jesus was tortured and mocked as well. They put out both of Samson’s eyes and made him nothing more than a subject of ridicule. At this I recall how “the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him as they beat Him. They also blindfolded Him and kept asking Him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ And they did many other things against Him, blaspheming Him” (Luke 22:63-65).
Back to Samson – in his final act this savior of Israel, despite all his previous failures, called one last time on God to strengthen him. As he spread his arms between the two middle pillars that held the house up in which those who mocked Him were rejoicing in the idol Dagon, he cried out to the Lord the statement in the verse above, “Let me die with the Philistines.” It was by this one last act that Samson brought death on himself and vengeance on the enemies of God. It is here that we see a picture of Christ that is so much more wonderful than the shadows of any of the judges who saved Israel. You see, like Samson, Jesus chose to die just like every one of his enemies will die, for are not the wages of sin death? But unlike Samson, Jesus died not just WITH sinners, but FOR sinners. And unlike those Philistines that died with Samson to live no more, God has wonderfully made it possible for any sinner who will put their faith in Christ to die with Him and “if we have been united with him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:5).
Samson’s life and death: what an enigma it was. But the life and death of Jesus is the greatest enigma that there will ever be. For why would the God of the universe bear the sin of the whole world? It is too awesome and wonderful to ever understand fully, but it is eternal life for all who will believe.