If you've seen any Hulk movie or read any of the comics, you know what the Hulk does well. SMASH! In Marvel's Avengers, we saw this as the Hulk chased down Black Widow in SHIELD's flying fortress and ended up wrecking the whole place. There are Hulk comics that end with the Hulk being the only living person left on earth after nuclear fallout has killed everyone else. It's just him and the cockroaches. There's an animated movie called Planet Hulk that starts off with Hulk being locked in a spaceship and shot into outer space because the Avengers realize the Hulk will destroy everything on earth.
When it comes to superheroes the Hulk is definitely Super but the jury is out on the hero part. He's just as likely to make things a hundred times worse as he is to save the day. His blinding rage and anger consume him. That's why almost all of the Hulk's stories end in disaster. There is a man in the Bible who fits this description. His name is Samson.
Samson was born to a couple without children. In fact, his mother was barren. The angel of the Lord appeared to his parents and told them that Samson was going to be used by God to defeat the Philistines who had been oppressing the Israelites for forty years. The angel also explained that they were to raise Samson as a Nazirite. Nazirite? It meant that Samson would be specially dedicated to God and could not touch unclean things (like dead animals), drink alcohol, or ever cut his hair. These outward restrictions were supposed to demonstrate that Samson was different and was set apart for God's purposes. He had a destiny before he was born, a special mission from God to overcome the Philistines.
Just like the Hulk, there is no doubt that Samson was super. Samson was probably the strongest man to ever live in the history of the world. The Bible says that he tore a lion apart with his bare hands. On another occasion, Samson strikes down 1,000 trained and armed soldiers. This time he wasn't using his bare hands though. His weapon of choice was a donkey's jawbone. It doesn't stop there either. Samson once tore the gate and its posts right out of a city's walls and then heaved it onto his shoulders and carried it up a hill. Last but not least, Samson single-handedly destroyed a huge temple that held over 3,000 people without a wrecking ball or power tools. With his bare hands, he shoved huge support columns and caused the building to crumble apart. That's a man with super strength.
Unfortunately, Samson is like the Hulk in another way. While there is no doubt that he is super, whether or not he was a hero is unclear. If you read Judges 13 through 16, you'll see the story of a man who seems to do everything but what God wants. It's almost like he is trying to despise all of the things God wants for him.
What was his destiny that he had heard from a young age? Defeat the Philistines. What does Samson do? He hangs out with them and tries to live among them. He marries a Philistine woman because she is super good looking. He has thirty groomsmen at his wedding and every last one of them is a Philistine. Sadly, this turns out terribly. Samson ends up losing a bet, which leads to him getting angry. He goes out and murders thirty men so that he can rob their bodies to cover the bet that he lost. His wife ends up leaving him for his best man. In a rage, Samson burns down some Philistine fields with an army of fire foxes (sorry Mozilla, he beat you to it). The Philistines escalate by burning his ex-wife and her father alive. So Samson goes and kills those guys.
For someone who isn't supposed to touch dead things, he seems to go out of his way to do it. Remember the lion I mentioned earlier? Samson left its carcass in the road and some time later passes by it again. Some bees had apparently taken up shop in the lion carcass, maybe it was cheaper real estate than tree hives. Samson reaches into a rotting lion carcass to scoop out honey and eat it. Who would do that? Remember the fight with 1,000 Philistines? After killing one of them, he could have reached down and taken the fallen soldier's sword. Instead, he goes 12 rounds using a donkey's jawbone. So much for not touching dead things.
As for not drinking any alcohol, Samson does a whole lot of feasting. I didn't notice anything that explicitly says he drank wine, but he ends up "feasting" a whole lot and given his disregard for God, it seems likely he got crunk every now and then.
And last but not least, the haircuts. Samson told Delilah the secret of his hair even though he knew she would cut his hair off. She had asked him the secret to his strength three times already. Each time he had lied to her and made up some story about how to weaken him. If Samson told her that rubbing butter on his forehead would make him weak, he would wake up with butter on his forehead. If Samson told her that feeding him chocolate would weaken him, he would wake up with a Hershey bar in his mouth. Despite all of this, he finally does tell her the truth one day, knowing that she would cut his hair. She cuts his hair and sells the weakened Samson to the Philistines.
Samson's True Weakness
Samson's life goes from disaster to disaster when it could have been the story of a real hero. I think there is a reason. Samson trusted in himself and his own strength and God was nothing more than a last resort. For Samson, he was the solution to every problem. When he got angry, he turned to his strength. When he was wronged, he turned to his strength.
The first person he turned to was always himself and his power. And I can understand that. Imagine growing up with this incredible strength. Nothing could scratch you. No one could match you. No problem was too big. It's easy to see why Samson started to live and act like he was the only one that mattered. It's easy to see why Samson thought the center of the universe was himself. He didn't care about God's plans for his life because he had his own plans. He didn't consider God when choosing his friends, his wife, his actions, his reactions, or anything really. Samson followed Samson. And because of that, he was super, but he was far from a being a hero. He was a murderer. He was an angry drunk. He was a womanizer. But he was far from a godly man.
There's only two times that we see Samson turn to God. The first is after Samson defeats the 1,000 Philistines and is dying of thirst. He turns to God and demands water in Judges 15:18. The second is after his hair has been cut and the Philistines have captured him. The Philistines have gouged out his eyes and made him their slave. They force him to entertain them and they humiliate him. Weak and defeated, he prays to God for strength to strike down these Philistines and have revenge one last time. These are Hail Mary prayers. It's fourth down with 75 yards to go and the other team is winning. There's nowhere left to turn so he turns to God.
Super Powers without a Super Foundation Equal Super Disaster
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. -- Matthew 7:26
This is the lesson of Samson. Super powers without a super foundation equal super disaster. He had all the strength in the world. But he didn't have a strong foundation for his life. He built his life on himself. Samson's life was all about what Samson wanted. Samson looked to himself to get it done. And in the end, Samson's tragic life ended in even greater tragedy. A man meant to be a hero is no more than a cautionary tale of what not to do.
What's this got to do with you and me?
Some of you can relate to Samson because you think you're awesome. Like Samson, you have a gift that has carried you through life. Maybe its your strength. Maybe you're a great athlete, a whiz at school, super popular, really good looking, extremely funny, or a man with a plan. Whatever it is, you've got this gift and you've done pretty well with it.
That's really great for you! But don't make the mistake of Samson. You may be super, but that doesn't make you a hero. Don't build your life on your talent and awesomeness. That is a weak and unstable foundation. In the end, you will ride your own talents right into disaster. Don't let your success trick you into thinking you're the center of the universe and you don't need God. Don't let God become your last resort and nothing more. If you do, you'll make all the wrong decisions for all of the wrong reasons. Sooner or later, it will catch up to you and it won't be pretty. You'll be super, but you'll miss the call to be a hero and really make a difference with your life.
Instead, let's learn from Samson. Let's start right now to dig up the old and rotten foundation. Let's stop relying on ourselves first and start laying a new foundation. Let's start turning to God first and building our lives on His principles and living for His plans. That's the only foundation that will last. Let's not just be super, let's be heroes too by living out the life that God has planned for us. You just might be blown away by all He has in store for you.
- How have you laid a bad foundation and built your life on the wrong things?
- What is your talent or power that you turn to first to get you through?
- What life choices have you made without considering God's plans for you or His commands to you?
- What goals does God have for you? What goals have you been chasing?
- In what ways is God a last resort to you?
- How can you being laying a good foundation to build you life on God?
- How often do you pray, read the Bible, worship, have encouraging fellowship?
- How can you improve the above? Don't just think amount of time but quality of time.
- How can you start including God in your life decisions day to day?