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Redemption by Revenge: Samson’s Success

Hazma bin Laden, son of Osama bin Laden, has vowed revenge for his father’s death in the 2011 at the hand of U.S. Special Operations Forces: “We will continue striking you and targeting you in your country and abroad.”

Revenge is also the primary motive for Samson’s brutal attacks on the Philistines. He repaid the men who solved his unsolvable riddle by striking down thirty men from Ashkelon (14:19). Then, he avenged the betrayal of the man he presumed to be his father-in-law.

The feast intended to celebrate Samson’s marriage to a Philistine woman ended disastrously, but Samson assumed that he could return to his wife after letting his anger cool. But she had been given in marriage to another man, and Samson’s anger flared as hot as the Philistine fields he torched (15:5). The Philistines responded by burning alive his wife and her father; Samson then slaughtered a thousand men with the edge of a donkey’s jawbone (15:5, 15).

Samson’s victories were motivated by personal revenge, but God used them as acts of divine salvation. Even Samson himself acknowledged them as God’s triumph (15:18). And by way of reminding readers of Samson’s connection to God’s history of delivering His people, Samson drinks water from a miraculous source, just as Moses and the Israelites had done on their journey through the wilderness (15:19). Israel will enjoy twenty years of peace—even if it is at the crude hands of the man, Samson.

We have foreshadowing that the peace will not endure. Is it not shocking how willingly his fellow Israelites would deliver Samson over to the Philistines? We might wonder if Israel even wants the rescue that God provides, or if they have become resigned to Philistine rule (15:11–12).

Apply the Word

We may think it strange that Israel might not want God’s salvation—but we are not unlike them, especially in our slavery to sin. Do we accommodate sin as the Israelites accommodated oppression? Thank God for His salvation made possible through Jesus, and thank Him for the power of His Spirit to help you resist temptation.

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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