Vol. 11 — No. 9 March 1, 1970
Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us. And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars. And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
In Christ Jesus, the One Anti-Type of all Old Testament Types, Fellow Redeemed:
If someone asks the question, “What is the substance or the content of the Bible, God’s word?” the very simple and brief answer is “Jesus Christ, our Savior.” The entire Scriptures center about one Person, Jesus Christ. We read and study and use the Bible aright when we seek and find in it that one Person, Jesus Christ. We preach aright from our pulpits when our message centers in that same one Person, Jesus Christ.
There are, to be sure, parts of the Bible that speak more directly of Jesus Christ than other parts. The Gospels present His life and work, the Epistles His teaching. In the Old Testament the prophets foretell His coming and speak of His person and work. But the Old Testament also speaks of Christ through types. Much of the Old Testament worship was typical, that is, served as a shadow of substance to come. Thus the Passover lamb was a type or a shadow of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. But there were also prominent persons in the history of God’s Old Testament people who served as types of Christ and His work.
There is a whole Series of people that are types of Christ. They are the judges of Israel through whom God ruled His people after the death of Joshua up to the time of Samuel and Saul. During this time, whenever the people of Israel fell away from the true God and began to worship the gods of surrounding heathen nations, the Lord God permitted them to fall into the hands of one or the other of these heathen nations. Then when the people would return to Him in repentance, the Lord would send them a judge to deliver them from the hands of their enemies. These judges are all types of the One Great Deliverer who delivered us all from the bondage and tyranny of sin, death, and the Devil. The judge that we would consider in this meditation is Samson. In his entire life, from birth to death, Scripture reveals Samson as a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. We consider then—
No better and briefer description can be given of the times in which Samson lived than the words with which the inspired writer introduces his story, “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.” It was during this time of distress that the Angel of the Lord appeared unto the wife of a man of the tribe of Dan whose name was Manoah and announced unto her that she would bear a son, who would begin to deliver Israel. Does this not remind you of the angel of the Lord that appeared unto Zacharias as he was sacrificing and promised unto him a son, John the Baptist, who would prepare the way of the Lord in the spirit and power of Elias? Do you not also think of the mission of the Angel Gabriel to the little village of Nazareth to announce unto the virgin Mary that she should bear a Son and call His name Jesus? Did not that same angel appear unto Joseph in a dream and tell him of the birth of Jesus? The births of both Samson and of Jesus were announced by an angel.
We find that both Samson and Jesus were children of a promise. The Angel of the Lord promised a son unto Manoah and his wife when he said, “Behold now, thou art barren and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.” We know that Jesus was the Child of a promise of thousands of years. To our first parents God already promised the “Seed of the woman” who would destroy the Devil. Through the centuries that promise became more definite and more clear. Think but of the promise of Isaiah, who foretold that “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
We find an astounding revelation of Samson as a type and Jesus as Antitype in the birth of these two men. The mother of Samson was barren, she had no children, and she could have no children because the Lord had withheld that blessing from her. But after the Angel of the Lord announced the birth of Samson, the Lord performed a miracle, opening the womb of the wife of Manoah and giving her power and strength to bear a son. The mother of Jesus was not barren, but she was a virgin. And so the Lord God performed an even greater miracle. The Holy Ghost came upon Mary, and the power of the highest overshadowed her. In our Creed we confess that we believe in Jesus Christ “Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost.” This great miracle was performed in connection with the birth of Jesus so that He would be without sin and would be able to fulfill the law perfectly for us and could successfully withstand the attacks of the Devil.
Concerning Samson the Angel of the Lord said, “No razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb.” A Nazarite was a person separated from the other people and made holy unto the Lord. Either for a certain period of time or for his whole life that person was dedicated or consecrated unto the Lord and His service. The sign of a Nazarite was his long hair and his refraining from any strong drink. Samson was consecrated unto the Lord from his mother’s womb. So also Jesus. Samson was untrue to his consecration, but Jesus was perfectly consecrated to do the will of His Heavenly Father. To His disciples Jesus once said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4: 34) In the Garden of Gethsemane we hear him pray, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me; nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt,” and again, “O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done.” Is that not perfect consecration—the sacrificing of His will to the will of His Father—of which Samson was but an imperfect type.
Even in his name Samson was a type. The name “Samson” means “Little Sun.” Samson’s life and work did shine as the sun. The last prophet of the Old Testament, Malachi, spoke of the coming Messiah as the “Sun of Righteousness (which shall) arise with healing in his wings.”
So we see that in his birth and the circumstances surrounding it Samson was a type of our Savior. We see that also—
When we consider the life of Samson we find certain things in him that find their perfection in his Antitype, Christ. When the Angel of the Lord announced the birth of Samson, He also said that Samson would but begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Complete deliverance did not come until later under King David. However, we find that Christ, the Antitype, was both the Author and Finisher of our salvation, our deliverance. When Christ cried out on the cross, “It is finished,” there was nothing left for us to do. His deliverance was complete and final. In the case of Samson we find that the Spirit of the Lord moved him at various times to do great acts for the deliverance of his people, but the Spirit did not rest upon him continually. With Christ it is different. After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove rested upon Him and remained upon Him, giving His human nature strength to carry out the great work of deliverance. The outstanding characteristic of Samson was his great strength. His strength made him a dread and a terror among his enemies. In Jesus we find omnipotence. His miracles showing His power over matter, the forces of nature, sickness and disease, His conquering the Devil in the wilderness and in Gethsemane, and His triumph over Death reveal a strength working for our deliverance such as Samson never even dreamed of. Another outstanding characteristic of Samson was the fact that he always worked alone. Other judges delivered Israel at the head of an army, but Samson always operated alone. We find that remarkably true with Jesus. Jesus trod the wine press alone. There was no one that could help Him work out our deliverance. Peter rashly offered his help when he drew his sword and cut off Malchus’ ear, but the Lord rejected his help. Shortly thereafter the disciples fled as sheep that were scattered and Jesus went on alone.
There are additional parallels between the life of Samson and Christ. When Samson desired a woman of Timnath for his wife, he first sought the consent of his parents. Samson knew the fourth commandment and acted accordingly. Doesn’t that remind you of the story of Jesus as a twelve-year old boy in the temple. After Mary and Joseph found Him, Luke tells us that Jesus “went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them.” When Samson went with his parents to Timnath to get his bride, he turned aside and a young lion roared against him, and he killed that lion with his bare hands. In the New Testament the Devil is described as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Did not Jesus destroy him? Think of the forty days and nights of struggle in the wilderness ending in those three great temptations. Think of the time when Peter as a tool of the Devil repeated that temptation trying to get Jesus not to go through with His suffering and death. Jesus again defeated the Devil, saying: “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Think of the struggle that our Lord had in the Garden of Gethsemane when the Devil again tried to keep Jesus from the way of sorrow. That struggle was terrific, for we know that Jesus sweat drops of blood. But Jesus conquered the lion, the Devil. When after some time Samson returned to the carcass of the lion, he found that a swarm of bees had filled it with honey. His victory over the lion resulted in the sweet fruits of victory for him. The Apostle Paul speaks of that fruit when he says, “Who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” The Devil’s greatest power over men was to point the finger of guilt at them and to hold them accountable for the guilt of sin. But that power is broken, for there is forgiveness by the blood of Christ, which gives life and salvation. Sweet, indeed, is the Fruit of Christ’s victory over the Devil.
After Samson had on one occasion smitten the Philistines hip and thigh with a great slaughter, he withdrew to the land of Judah. The Philistines gathered an entire army to go into Judah and capture Samson. A whole army against one man. In a like manner a band of men from the chief priests and Pharisees, and the scribes and elders of the people, went before the multitudes with lanterns and torches, and with swords and staves to take the unarmed Jesus captive. Again an “army” against one unarmed man. However, the army of the Philistines that went up to capture Samson didn’t take him prisoner. His own people, the men of Judah for whom he had been fighting and whose cause he had championed when they were too cowardly to resist the Philistines, delivered him into the hands of the enemy. So also we find that Jesus was delivered by His own people, the Jews, into the hands of the heathen Pilate. In spite of the fact that Jesus had come as a Savior first of the Jews and had done His works of love and mercy among the Jews, they nevertheless rejected him and delivered Him to be crucified. We find in the story of Samson that he yielded himself to the men of Judah and permitted himself to be bound and delivered into the hands of his enemies. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus also did? When confronted by His enemies, He simply willingly yielded and permitted Himself to be bound and led away. In the case of Samson, however, we find that although he yielded to the men of Judah and permitted himself to be delivered into the hands of the Philistines, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him when the Philistines shouted against him and he picked up the jawbone of an ass and slew a thousand men therewith. Jesus, on the other hand, permitted himself to be mistreated and killed and placed in the grave, but on the third day, He broke the bonds of death and its cords, the grave clothes, and appeared on Easter morning triumphant over all His enemies. After Samson had slain the thousand Philistines we read that “he was sore athirst.” Does that not in a most remarkable way remind you of the word of Christ on the cross, “I thirst”?
Not only throughout his life do we see Samson as a type of Christ, but also—
The events that lead up to the death of Samson form an unhappy chapter in his life. He departed from the Lord and was betrayed by Delilah for 11OO pieces of silver. The same love of money was involved in the betrayal of Jesus. Thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave, was all that Jesus was worth to Judas. A supposed intimate friend betrayed them both!
Samson was tortured, his eyes being put out. The Philistines used him to make sport for them. Wasn’t Jesus treated the same way? Think of how before Caiaphas they spit in His face, slapped and struck Him with their fists, how before Herod they mocked Him and arrayed Him in a purple robe, how before Pilate they placed a crown of thorns upon his head and whipped Him, how on Golgotha they continued to mock and jeer and scorn Him.
Yet Samson gained the final victory through his death. He killed more of the enemy through his death than through his life. Victory in death! Death never seems like victory; yet sometimes it is. It was for Samson and also for his great Anti-type, Jesus Christ. That hill called Golgotha outside of Jerusalem certainly looked like no victory parade grounds, and yet the greatest victory history has ever recorded took place there in the moment of the death of God’s Son. For after Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” and then commended His soul into the hands of His heavenly Father, a violent earthquake proclaimed the victory and graves opened, forced to release their dead and thus proving Christ’s victory over death. The power of the grave had been broken, and ever since all Christians have rejoiced: “O death, where is thy sting; O grave, where is thy victory?”
After the death of Samson, “his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him.” After Jesus was pronounced dead, Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus and some women laid His body to peaceful rest in Joseph’s tomb. In his birth and in his life and in his death Samson was truly a type of Christ. May this study of Samson, Deliverer of Israel, lead us to a greater faith and trust in Christ, our Deliverer from sin, death, and the power of the Devil. Amen.
Ministry by Mail is a weekly publication of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. Subscription and staff information may be found online at www.clclutheran.org/ministrybymail.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the King James Version.