Samson’s Christ Connection:
More than a one thousand years after “the angel of the Lord” appeared to Samson’s mother, another angel gave a young woman a similar prediction: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:31). The first angel told Samson’s parents that he would “begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (Judg. 13:5), the other told Jesus’s parents that “he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). While Samson’s formerly barren mother miraculously conceived through her husband, Jesus’s mother conceived as a virgin. While both baby boys had angels announce their births, only Jesus’ birth inspired a multitude of the heavenly host to sing (Luke 2:13–14). Jesus and Samson were both put on display to be mocked by enemies, but unlike Samson, Jesus went to his death willingly and sinlessly. Most importantly, his grave could not hold him! Like all Old Testament types and shadows they find their perfection and fulfillment in Jesus.
The sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus is the core event of the gospel’s good news. Can we find good news in Samson’s complex life and death? The good news of Samson’s story is sung by parents all over the world: “Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.” Hebrews 11 testifies that Samson, by faith, was “made strong out of weakness. (11:34)” Though he spent his life pursuing that which seemed right in his own eyes, in the end he did recognize his weakness and need of God, crying, “Oh God … please strengthen me. (16:28)” If our hope is in anything but Jesus we will find ourselves, like Samson, weak and enslaved. Samson’s story points us toward the source of true strength, Jesus, the ultimate merciful and just judge who faithfully delivers every sinner who trusts in God’s strength rather than his own.