Judges 13:1-16:30 tells the story of Samson.  The Israelites do “evil in the sight of the Lord,” so they are punished by forty years’ rule by the Philistines.  The angel of the Lord appears to Manoah’s wife, who is baren and tells her she will have a child and they are never to cut his hair as a sign of their dedication of him to the Lord – known as a Nazirite.

Samson is a headstrong, rebelious youth, allthough they did not know that his actions fit God’s purposes.  He is enamored with the enemy’s women and often visits them.  On one occasion, as he is walking to visit his girlfriend, a Philistine; and he comes across a lion, which he tears apart with his hands.  Judges 14:5.

Samson and the Lion NICHOLAS OF VERDUN (1181)

See for the above photograph of piece of guilt copper with enamel.

You may recall that when Samson marries the woman, he finds honey in the carcass of the lion that he slew.  At the wedding feast he proposes a riddle:

“Out of the eater, something to eat;
Out of the strong, something sweet.”

If the grooms’ thirty Philistine friends can solve it, Samson will give them each linen garments and a set of clothes; if they cannot, they will give him thirty of the same.  His bride wears him down with her constant nagging and whining; and Samuel (this is a weakness that he never gets over) finally relents to tell her the answer to the riddle.  She tells the Philistine friends and they win the wager.  Samson is furious and kills thirty Philistines and strips them of their linen garments to pay his wager. When he goes to claim his bride, her father confronts him, telling Samson that (presumably because Samson got distracted from his wedding by his desire for revenge), he gave her in marriage to Samson’s companion.  Judges 14:8-15:6.

Samson Accusing His Father-in-Law REMBRANDT (1635)

See for the source of the above photograph of the painting.

Apparently, Samson has a weakness for feisty Philistinian women.  Samson falls for another, Delilah.  The Philistines press her to discover from Samson the source of his incredible strength.  She also wears him down with her constant nagging and whining; and so, again, he relents and tells her.  She tells her compatriot Philistines: cut his hair and he will lose his extraordinary strength.  Judges 16.

Samson and Delilah HONTHORST (1615)

See for the source of the above photograph of the painting and a description.

Smitten by love, passion, or both, Samson falls asleep on Delilah’s lap.  She signals the Philistines. Theys rush in, cut Samson’s hair, he loses his extraordinary powers, they put out his eyes and imprison him.

Samson and Delilah REMBRANDT (c. 1629/30)

See for the source of the above photograph of the painting.

Samson and Delilah BOLDRINI (1540’s)

See for the source of the above photograph of the woodcut.

The Blinding of Samson REMBRANDT

See for the source of the above photograph of the painting and a description.

After some time, locked up in prison and forgotten, Samson’s hair grows back.  Upon an occasion calling for celebration, the Philistines remember Samson and they bring him to the celebration to torment him as they feast and celebrate.  Samson asks one tending him to place his hands on the pillars of the hall so that he can rest upon them.  He has regained his strength, he pushes the columns, and they collapse, bringing the roof down upon himself and the finest Philistine’s men.  My mother would again conclude from this story that God uses ordinary people, like ourselves, “to His purposes,” despite our weaknesses, indeed, in spite of ourselves.

Samson Overturns the Columns CHAGALL (1958)

See for the source of the above photograph of the etching.

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