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Strong Hero: Samson

The judges were people God used to help the people of Israel. But eventually, the people would forget about God and what He had done for them, and they would start following the false gods the nations around them followed. When that happened, their enemies would be able to defeat them and treat them badly.

That's exactly what was happening when Samson was born. The people had forgotten all about God again. After a while, an enemy nation called the Philistines came in and started bullying the Israelites.

God chose Samson to help rescue His people. Here’s a little bit of information about him.

One day, the angel of the Lord appeared to a man named Manoah and his wife. The angel promised that they would have a son who would rescue the Israelites from the Philistines. God was going to use him to save His people, but he had to live in a way that showed he was different from everyone else because he belonged to God. The angel told Manoah and his wife that they were never to cut his hair. When the baby was born, they named him Samson. God blessed Samson and made him really strong! But his story is a lot different than Gideon’s. When Samson grew up, he fell in love with a Philistine woman and told his parents he wanted to marry her. Israelites weren’t supposed to marry people from other nations who followed false gods, so his parents weren’t happy about his choice. They didn’t know it was part of God’s plan to punish the Philistines for treating God’s people badly. While Samson and his parents were on their way to meet her, a lion suddenly attacked Samson. But God gave Samson superhero strength, and he killed the lion with his bare hands! Later, when they were returning on that same road for Samson’s wedding, he saw the dead lion and noticed that some bees had made honey in its body. Samson took some of the honey and ate it. When they got there, Samson decided to throw a party. He told this riddle to some of the Philistine men: “Out of the one who eats came something to eat; out of the strong came something sweet.” Samson told the men if they could solve the riddle he would give them thirty new sets of clothing. They couldn’t figure it out, so they asked his wife to find out the answer. She nagged Samson about it until he finally gave her the answer, and then she told the men. When the men gave Samson the answer to the riddle, he knew his wife had tricked him and he became very angry. He went back home to live with his parents. After a while, he decided to go get his wife. But when he got there, he found out that she had married another man. This made Samson so angry that he set the Philistines’ fields on fire and burned all their crops! Of course, now the Philistines were angry with him. They tried to capture him, but God made him so strong he snapped the ropes they tied him up with. He defeated 1000 Philistine men all by himself! Then God provided water for him to drink by making it gush out of a hole in the ground. A while later, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah. The Philistines went to Delilah in secret and offered to give her money if she would find out where Samson’s strength came from and how they could defeat him. Delilah accepted the bribe and started asking Samson what made him so strong. Every time she asked, Samson made up a story about something that would take his strength away. The people would try it, but it never worked. Remember, the angel of God had told Samson’s parents that his hair must never be cut. That doesn’t mean Samson’s strength came from his long hair like some sort of superpower. His strength came from God. The fact that his hair had never been cut showed that he had made a special commitment to God. If Samson cut his hair, he would be disobeying God, and God would take away the strength He had given him. Samson finally got so tired of Delilah bugging him about it that he told her the truth. That night, Delilah sent word to the Philistines, and while Samson was sleeping, she cut his hair! When the Philistines rushed in to capture Samson, he tried to fight them off but his strength was gone. The Philistines blinded Samson and threw him in prison. While Samson was in prison, his hair began to grow back. One day the Philistine rulers had a celebration to honor their false god called Dagon. They thought Dagon had given them victory over Samson, but that wasn’t true at all! They gathered in their temple, which was a fancy building where they would pray to Dagon and have festivals for him. They brought Samson out and stood him between two pillars that were holding up the temple. Samson prayed and asked God to give him strength one more time. God answered his prayer. Samson knew he would die doing what he was about to do, but he also knew it would help save the people of Israel from the Philistines. He stretched his arms out and pushed against the two pillars with all of his strength. The whole temple came crashing down on everyone who was in the temple. God used Samson to defeat the Philistine rulers and the other Philistine people who were in the temple. It weakened the entire Philistine nation so they couldn’t treat the Israelites so badly. And it showed everyone that God was the true and powerful God. It seems like Samson had a hard time figuring things out. Sometimes he recognized that his strength came from God, but other times he was full of pride and the Trailbook says he “boasted.” Basically he said, “Look what I did.” He had gotten so used to being strong that he forgot how much he needed God. There were times when he disobeyed God. More than once he let another person convince him to make a very bad choice. But God still used Samson to help His people. In the end, Samson learned to depend on God. He was willing to give his life to obey God and help rescue the people of Israel.

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