Samson is one of the most tragic figures in the Bible. Consider his story. He was called of God from before conception, and raised by dedicated parents who understood the divine purpose of their son’s life. When he reached maturity and should have been actively accomplishing his God-given task, he made a U-turn and spent the rest of his life in self-absorption, wasting his potential on the sins of the flesh.
Samson was a contemporary of the high priest Eli, and therefore of Samuel. The narrative of Judges is not a chronological recitation of history, but a compilation of significant events after the death of Joshua and before the calling of Saul as king. There is overlap in the actual lives of the judges whose deeds are related in this book. The compiler selected from all the events that had taken place during this period, choosing the ones that suited his narrative purpose. The last five chapters (two stories) of the Book of Judges are really an appendix and belong to a time earlier in the narrative. By selecting the stories and organizing them as he did, the compiler indicates the general downward trend in the spiritual condition of Israel, and so ends his narrative with the summary epitaph—“everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
All Scripture is given for our education in the things of God. When we read of the failures of God’s people, He intends for us to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them. We’re to learn the corollary lessons that reliance upon self leads to bondage and destruction, and that our only hope is in total dependence upon Christ for deliverance from sin.
Reading the entire story of Samson we are struck with the parallels to God’s remnant church.
1. Samson was called by God even before conception.
The Advent movement is the result of the 2300 year prophecy; we were called by God long before our “conception” in the minds of men.
2. From his birth Samson was separated, set apart for a special work.
On the cusp of eternity the Advent movement was separated from all the other churches to declare the special message of the third angel of Revelation: Christ and His righteousness.
3. Samson was to follow a Nazarite lifestyle.
Nazarite simplicity can be compared to the day of atonement fasting and “affliction of soul”; it is a denial of self and a dedication to an eminently more important event taking place.
4. Even with all the evidence that he was called of God to do His bidding, Samson turned around and focused on self.
Legalism that afflicted the church derailed us from following our high calling; we became absorbed in debating the finer points of the law, until we were “as dry as the hills of Gilboa without dew or rain” (The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 557). The symbolism of dew and rain must not be lost. When this was written in 1890 we desperately needed the Latter Rain which the Lord attempted to send two years earlier at Minneapolis.
5. It was a short fall for Samson once he averted his eyes from God to self; he repeatedly sold himself to foreign women.
The bride of Christ has shirked her Husband’s claim on her and sought alliances with “foreign” theologies, attempting to incorporate into the unique message of Adventism evangelical teachings on the nature of Christ, justification, the sanctuary, and God’s covenant promise of redemption.
6. Lust finally conquered Samson when he fell in love with the temptress, Delilah.
Samson’s physical strength was not in his uncut hair, but in his acknowledgment of God’s power working through him. By attributing his strength to himself, he lost the vital connection to God’s power. Enslaved by the enemies of God, the Philistines symbolically put out his eyes.
By drinking from broken cisterns we have lost our spiritual discernment. The diagnosis from the True Witness is “thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). An apt description of Samson in the Philistine dungeon.
7. God was long-suffering with Samson, never leaving him even when he was committing adultery (both marital and spiritual). You can be sure that the Holy Spirit was there with him in that dungeon, wooing him to return to his first love, to the zealousness which characterized his original dedication to God.
Neither will the Lord abandon His remnant church; there is no “8th church” in Revelation 3, and no logic to the idea of returning to a previous church. The True Witness is patiently pleading: “buy of Me gold tried in the fire [His faith], that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment [His robe of righteousness] that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve [spiritual discernment], that thou mayest see” (Rev. 3:18; see also Isa. 55:1-13; 60:1-3).
8. Finally repentant, Samson gave his life (it was not a suicide) for the task God called him to do. The work Samson accomplished in the end was greater than all the work he’d done in his whole life, and it was done rapidly.
Laodicea will yet repent and believe “the most precious message” of Christ and His righteousness sent to us through A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner in 1888. Then, through renunciation of self, a total focus on God and the vindication of His character, and through the Latter Rain power of the Holy Spirit, we will be enabled to complete our prophetic assignment. The fourth angel in Revelation 18:4 will sound when we direct the eyes of the world to the charms of Christ’s matchless love, to His divine merits, to the priceless gift of His own righteousness, and to justification through faith in His promise to deliver from sin (see Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 91-92).
As Samson eventually learned, the final work is all about Christ, while the glory of man is laid in the dust.
If you would like a copy, sent via e-mail, of Robert J. Wieland’s “Seven Memorable Marriages in the Bible,” please request it from: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, download the PDF document here.
(Note: A series of CDs on these lessons recorded by this Robert J. Wieland is available from the office of the 1888 Message Study Committee: 269-473-1888.) Listen to the audio recording for Lesson 6 now in MP3 format. To receive as a pod-cast click here or subscribe to this feed. )
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