10th August 2012

Samson and the Lion

“And what more shall I say? I do not have the time to tell you about…Samson.”
Hebrews 11:32 (NIV UK)

During the Olympics a biblical strongman has been in the news. You may not have noticed it. Perhaps it was just a short story in your local paper, if reported at all.

Let me give you some background. Samson, whose haircut is legendary, was known for his strength as well as for his bad choices in love. Once he slew a young lion with his bare hands, and, some time later, he ate honey from a hive that bees had built in the lion’s carcass.

Then Samson challenged the Philistines with a riddle. Solve this, he said, “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet” (Judges 14:14). He was referring to the lion and the honey, but no one knew that. His Philistine wife got very upset with him. “You never tell me anything!” she complained. “If you really, really loved me, you would tell me the answer to this riddle”. Samson, true to form, gave in and told her, and she gave her people the answer. Samson, on discovering this, lost his temper and killed thirty Philistine men and stripped them bare. Then his wife was given away to someone else. This could be a TV prime-time drama!

So what was the news? Well, recently archaeologists have found a seal (not the animal or the navy kind, but a signet or a medallion used as a stamp of authenticity).  On it is a depiction of what seems like a man tackling a lion. It was found near where Samson would have lived. It dates from the 11th century BC, the time of Samson. Would Samson, a judge, have had his own seal with the scene from his riddle? His name is not on the seal. One can only speculate that it could be linked to the biblical account. What it does show is that the spectacular story of Samson’s slaying of the lion may fit in with the archaeology of the biblical setting.

The writer of the book of Hebrews does not have time to tell us every little detail about Samson. The point is that faithful Samson, even though he was often entangled in sin, has his name registered in heaven (12:23).

So let’s be faithful. Just like Samson, we too are often beset by our shortcomings and problems. Yet Jesus Christ has seen to it that our names are also written in heaven.

Father, thank you that, although I am sometimes caught up in my own mistakes and sins, through Jesus my name is written in heaven. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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