Samson was the strongest man in the Bible. But did you know he also had five weaknesses?
In this article, let’s discover:
- What made him the strongest man in the Bible
- What his five weaknesses were
- What you can learn from those
But first, let’s get to know Samson and his life story.
Let’s dive right in.
Who Was Samson and What Was His Story?
The meaning of his name
The name Samson originated from four different words (Siegfried Horn, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary 1979, 974-75).
One is the Hebrew word Shimshôn which means “uncertain.” Another is shemesh which translates as “sun” or “little sun.”
The third term is shamam, meaning “to destroy.” Hence, it interprets Samson as the “destroyer.”
The last one almost spells the same, but it is shamem. It means “fat” or “robust.” And it signifies that Samson is the “strong one.”
Now, his birth and family background
Samson was born of Manoah and his wife, whose name the Bible doesn’t mention (Judges 13:2).
She hasn’t borne children. But an angel of God told her, “you shall conceive and bear a son” (verses 2 and 3, ESV).
If you were in her place, how would you feel? Wasn’t it a great privilege?
But it was coupled with some responsibilities (verses 4-7).
What are those?
His Nazarite vow
“Be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.” Also, “no razor shall come upon his head” (Judges 13:4-7, ESV).
“For the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb.” With this, he shall “save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”
Nazarite? What does it mean?
It was the name Hebrews used to refer to a devotee with a holy vow.
This vow included what we mentioned earlier.
But in addition, “eat nothing…produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins” (Numbers 6:4, ESV). Also, “he shall not go near a dead body” (verse 6, ESV).
Sounds like a lot of restrictions, right?
How do you think they would affect Samson’s life? Let’s see.
A sneak peek of his life in 5 selected events
1) He fell in love with and married a Philistine girl.
At Timnah, Samson saw one of the daughters of the Philistines (Judges 14:1).
He told his parents that he wanted the woman to be his wife. But they didn’t like her for him, knowing she came from uncircumcised Philistines (verses 2 and 3).
Still, Samson insisted, saying, “She is right in my eyes.”
Eventually, Samson’s parents agreed to go with him to Timnah.
There, he fell in love with and married the woman (verses 5 and 7).
To celebrate, Samson prepared a feast for her and the rest of the Philistines (verse 10).
But as they came, Samson gave them a riddle to solve within the seven days of the feast (verse 12).
After three days, they couldn’t solve it. So, they asked the woman to entice Samson into revealing the answer to the puzzle.
On the seventh day, the men reported to him with the answer (verse 18). They said, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”
But Samson doubted their honesty. He knew they persuaded his wife to tell them the truth.
Hence, he took revenge (Siegfried Horn, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary 1979, 974-75). He burned some Philistine fields and olive orchards.
Meanwhile, you’re probably wondering what that riddle was all about. Let’s find out later.
2) He was determined to take another revenge against the Philistines.
One time, Samson stayed in a “cave in the rock of Etam” (Judges 15:8, NIV).
Meanwhile, “the Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi.” They wanted to get even with Samson (verses 9 and 10).
Later, “three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave” where Samson was in.
They said to him, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?”
Samson answered, “I merely did to them what they did to me” (verse 11, NIV).
Then, they tied him up to be handed over to the Philistines. But Samson asked them not to kill him.
True enough, the men didn’t. “We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you” (verse 13, NIV).
And they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.
What happened next? You’ll discover it in a bit.
3) He visited a prostitute and almost placed himself at the hands of his enemies.
One day, Samson went to Gaza (Judges 16:1). There, he saw a prostitute and spent the night with her.
When the people knew he was there, they surrounded him and waited all night at the city gate. Little did he know they were planning to kill him in the morning (verse 2).
Good thing! Samson got up at midnight. “He grabbed the doors of the city gate and the two gateposts.” Then, he “pulled them out along with the bar” (verse 3, MEV).
He “put them on his shoulder and brought them to the top of the mountain near Hebron.”
4) He met and fell in love with Delilah, putting himself in danger with the Philistines.
Samson went to the Valley of Sorek (Judges 16:4).
“Once more, his passions became his master” (Siegfried Horn, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary 1979, 974-75).
Why and how?
Samson fell in love with Delilah, a Philistine woman from that valley.
The rest of the Philistines saw this as an opportunity to trick him.
The plan to discover the truth about Samson’s strength
The Philistines asked Delilah for a favor (Judges 16:5). “Find out about how his strength is so great and how we can overcome him, bind him, and humiliate him.”
And there was a reward for her. “Each one of us will give you eleven hundred silver coins.”
If you were Delilah, would you accept this offer?
The first attempt
Delilah asked Samson how he could be bound (Judges 16:6).
He replied, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, then I will become weak.” With this, he would be like an ordinary man (verse 7).
The Philistines did as Samson told Delilah. But he “split apart the bowstrings like a single thread is split apart at the touch of fire” (verse 9, MEV).
Delilah felt disappointed that Samson deceived and lied to her.
The second attempt
Again, Delilah asked Samson how he could be bound (Judges 16:10).
Samson answered, “If they bind me with new ropes that have never been used, then I will become weak.” Same as in the first attempt, he would be “like an ordinary man” (verse 11, MEV).
As usual, Delilah and the Philistines did what Samson instructed. But he split apart the ropes on his arms like a thread (verse 12).
Can you imagine how strong Samson was?
The third attempt
Disappointed for the second time, Delilah still asked Samson the same question.
He said, “Weave seven locks of my hair into the fabric on the loom and fasten it with the pin.” By that, “I will become weak and be like an ordinary man” (Judges 16:13, MEV).
What do you think would happen? Would Delilah be smarter this time?
Well, she tricked Samson to sleep and did as he told her. But still, when he got up, he “tore away from the loom pin and the fabric” (verse 14, MEV).
Can you believe it?
The fourth attempt
This time, Delilah cornered Samson with a threatening question.
She asked, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me?”
Do you know what?
Samson finally gave up (Judges 16:16).
He said, “No razor has touched my head, for I have been a Nazarite to God from my mother’s womb. If I were shaven, my strength would leave me.” As such, “I would become weak and be like all other men” (verse 17, MEV).
What a revelation!
So, Delilah told the Philistines she finally discovered Samson’s secret. As they came, they brought the money for her reward.
But first, Delilah tricked Samson to sleep on her knees. Then, she asked for a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair (verse 19).
As Samson woke up, he could not break free.
Now, his enemies won. Even worse, “the Lord had left him” (verse 20, MEV).
Finally, the Philistines captured him and “gouged out his eyes.” Then, they brought him to Gaza, chaining and imprisoning him (verse 21).
Fortunately, although his hair had been shaven, it began to grow back after some time.
5) He determined to get even with the Philistines once and for all.
The Philistine rulers gathered in the temple of Gaza. It was to celebrate and offer a sacrifice to Dagon, their god (Judges 16:23-24).
Later, they called Samson from the prison and placed him between the two pillars of the temple (verse 25).
“The temple was full of people.” And “about 3000 more were on the roof” (Siegfried Horn, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary 1979, 974-75).
How do you think Samson felt now that he was blind and weak?
Good thing, Samson “apparently knew the structure, for he had been in Gaza before,” Siegfried Horn added.
Yet, he called out to God, “Lord God, remember me, I pray! Please strengthen me just this once” (Judges 16:28, MEV).
With this, he wanted to take full revenge against the Philistines for his two eyes.
But not only that. It was also to get even with them for the humiliations he suffered at their hands (Siegfried Horn, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary 1979, 974-75).
So, how did he do it? You’ll find out in a bit.
What Made Him the Strongest Man in the Bible?
“Physically, Samson was the strongest man upon the earth” (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets 567.3).
And here are five instances to prove it:
1) He killed a lion with his bare hands.
You have learned earlier that Samson gave the Philistines a riddle. It had something to do with a lion.
Remember Samson going with his parents to Timnah to see the Philistine woman he wanted to be his wife?
On their way to the vineyards, “a young lion came toward him roaring” (Judges 14:5, ESV).
If you were Samson, would you attempt fighting against the lion? Or, would you run to escape and scream for help?
But did you know what?
“The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him.” And although Samson had no weapon, “he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat” (verse 6, ESV).
Can you imagine that?
After seeing the Philistine woman, Samson went back to see the dead body of the lion. There was a swarm of bees and honey (verse 8).
He “scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went” (verse 9, MEV).
Then, he came to his parents and shared with them some honey to eat. But “he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion.”
Carcass? What is it?
According to the dictionary by Merriam-Webster, it is a “dead body,” especially of a “meat animal.” With this, you can compare it to a human corpse.
2) He won over 30 Philistines.
The Philistines knew the answer to Samson’s riddle because his wife told them.
Because of this, Samson got so angry.
“He went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town.” Then, he “took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle” (Judges 14:19, ESV).
3) He captured 150 pairs of foxes.
Samson “took a young goat and went to visit his wife” (Judges 15:1, NIV).
But the woman’s father didn’t want Samson to enter her room. It was because he was sure Samson hated her. Hence, he gave her daughter to Samson’s companion.
For this, her father told Samson to take her younger sister instead (verse 2).
Samson answered, “This time, I have a right to get even with the Philistines.”
“I will really harm them” (verse 3, NIV).
So, what did Samson do?
He “went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs.” Then, he “fastened a torch to every pair of tails” (verse 4, NIV).
He “lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines.” With the vineyards and olive groves, “he burned up the shocks and standing grain” (verses 4 and 5, NIV).
4) He killed 1000 men with the jawbone of a donkey.
The men of Judah tied Samson with two ropes and brought him to the Philistines (Judges 15:13).
As the Philistines came to meet him at Lehi, “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him.”
And can you imagine what happened then?
The ropes on his arms “became like burned flax and the ties on his hands dissolved” (verse 14, MEV).
Then, Samson saw a “fresh jawbone of a donkey.” He took it and struck down a thousand Philistines (verses 15 and 16).
After killing them all, he threw the jawbone away and called that place “Ramath Lehi” (verse 17, NIV).
5) He destroyed the temple of Dagon and killed 3000 people.
Earlier, we talked about Samson wanting to take revenge against the Philistines for the last time.
Let’s continue from that scene.
After praying to God, Samson “grasped the two middle pillars” of the temple (Judges 16:29). One was with his right hand and the other with his left.
While doing it, he shouted, “Let me die with the Philistines” (verse 30, MEV). So, he pushed with all the strength he had.
Finally, the temple “fell upon the rulers and all the people who were in it.” With this, “he killed more than he had killed in his life.”
What a tragic death!
With this, do you think the Lord has forgiven him?
What Were His 4 Weaknesses?
1) He would lose his strength if his hair was cut.
As you have seen from his story, Samson was extraordinarily strong.
God blessed him with that special ability. And his hair was its symbol. For this, his family was advised never to razor it (Judges 13:5).
Meaning, that same hair would be Samson’s weakness when lost.
2) He couldn’t control his lustful desires.
As you have learned from Ellen White earlier, “physically, Samson was the strongest man upon the earth.”
But in “self-control, integrity, and firmness, he was one of the weakest of men” (Patriarchs and Prophets 567.3).
He could “choose the right or the wrong as he pleased” (Ellen White, SDA Bible Commentary vol. 2). But instead of taking hold of God’s strength, he “permitted the wild passions of his nature to have full sway.”
For instance, God planned that Samson would save Israel from the Philistines, their enemies (Judges 13:5).
Because of this, “the utmost care had been taken” since his birth (Ellen White, SDA Bible Commentary vol. 2). It was “to surround him with the most favorable conditions for physical strength, intellectual vigor, and moral purity.”
But when he grew up, what did Samson do?
He fell in love with three Philistine women and married some of them (Judges 14-16). He couldn’t resist the temptation.
Also, as part of his Nazarite vow, Samson should never “approach a dead body” (Numbers 6:6, MEV).
But he came near the carcass of the lion he killed. He even scooped and ate the honey out of it (Judges 14:8-9).
3) He had a bad temper.
From our sneak peek of Samson’s life, you’ve seen how much he hated the Philistines.
Do you remember when they discovered the answer to his riddle?
Samson didn’t believe they guessed it themselves because he knew his wife revealed it to them.
So, he killed thirty of their men (Judges 14:19).
4) He gave in to the temptation of revealing his source of strength.
Delilah enticed Samson to tell her the secret of his unusual strength. It was not just once nor twice but thrice. Yet, all these attempts failed because he didn’t tell the truth.
But on the fourth try, Samson finally gave in. He told Delilah that he would lose his strength if his hair was cut (Judges 16:17).
7 Things To Learn From Samson’s Weaknesses
1) Sin brings about consequences.
By revealing to the Philistines the source of his strength, Samson sinned. That is, he violated the Nazarite vow (Numbers 6:5).
As a consequence, Samson fell into the hands of his enemies.
As you’ve seen from the story, they “seized him and gouged out his eyes” (Judges 16:21, MEV). Then, they brought him to Gaza and imprisoned him.
What is its implication?
Every action has its corresponding consequence. What you sow, you will reap, as Galatians 6:7 (ESV) says.
Worse than this, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, ESV).
2) Guard your temper.
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28, ESV).
As such, Samson’s intemperance teaches you the value of patience.
From the same book, verse 32 of chapter 16 (ESV) says, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty.” And “he who rules his spirit” is better “than he who takes a city.”
3) Ask for God’s forgiveness and turn away from sin.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV). In other words, to be tempted is normal.
And as humans, we are all inclined to sin. Romans 3:23 (NIV) says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
But Samson teaches us an important lesson.
In suffering and humiliation, he “learned more of his own weakness than he had ever known before.” His afflictions “led him to repentance” (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets 566.3).
“If we confess our sins,” God is “faithful and just” to “forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9, NIV).
By turning away from evil, “your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19, ESV).
But you don’t have to do it alone.
God will help you. He will “provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).
4) Don’t abuse the gifts God has given you.
What is your God-given talent?
It may be the gift of preaching. Or you may be good at singing or playing instruments. Or it may be wisdom and intellect.
Whatever it is, how do you use it?
In the case of Samson, his gift was incredible strength (Judges 1). But he abused it and used it to show off instead of bringing glory to Him (chapters 14-16).
What can you learn from this?
“Do not neglect the gift that is in you.” It was “given to you by prophecy” (1 Timothy 4:14, MEV). Use it “to serve others” as “faithful stewards of God’s grace” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV).
5) God created you with a purpose in life.
Has there been a time in your life you felt worthless? No direction. You can’t determine your purpose in life.
You often ask God why He created you in the first place.
Just go back to Samson’s story.
Even before his birth, God had a plan for him. He was to deliver Israel from the Philistines (Judges 13:5).
Like Samson, you, too, have a purpose.
It may not be clear yet, but God says, “I know the plans I have for you.”
These plans are for your “welfare and not for evil.” With this, He wants “to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV).
6) God uses you for His mission even if you think you don’t deserve it.
Do you sometimes feel unworthy to witness for God because of your weaknesses?
You think you can’t serve and please Him knowing how poor and sinful you are.
You would probably feel the same if you were Samson, knowing you lacked self-control and kept on sinning.
But there’s always hope.
God says, “Though he falls, he will not be hurled down.” Still, He “supports him with His hand” (Psalm 37:24, MEV).
Forget those things “which are behind.” Reach forward “to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13, MEV).
7) You need God’s strength to overcome the challenges along the way.
Walking with God doesn’t mean life will be perfect.
Still, “Satan employs his utmost power to lead” you “astray.” He attacks you at your weak points, “working through defects in the character to gain control” of you.
He knows that “if these defects are cherished, he will succeed” (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets 568.2).
Meaning to say, as a human, you can’t overcome temptation all by yourself.
As Ellen White continues, “Help is at hand and will be given to every soul who really desires it.”
In addition, you can do everything through Christ, Who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13, ESV). And true enough, “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37, ESV).
What Have You Learned?
Did you enjoy this article? Did you like Samson’s story?
What have you learned from his strengths and weaknesses?
Do you have similar experiences?
Let us hear from you.