5 for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5)
There may not be a greater contrast between two characters in Scripture than Samson and Jesus. Jesus was obedient in all things. Samson was disobedient in pretty much every way. Samson disrespected his parents (14:3), while Jesus obeyed His earthly parents in all things (Luke 2:51). Samson trashed his Nazirite vows when he couldn’t say no to his hunger (Judges 14:9). Contrast that with Jesus who, even when he had eaten nothing for forty days, refused to listen when Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread (Luke 4:3-4).
Yet for all their glaring differences, two details about Samson’s life make him one of the clearest pictures of the coming Messiah in the entire Old Testament.
First, consider his birth. Before he was born, an angel of the Lord appeared to Samson’s mother to tell her that she would give birth to a son who would save Israel (Judges 13:5). After that, he appeared to her husband to tell him the same thing. Sound like anyone else we know? Gabriel appeared first to Mary (Luke 1) and then to Joseph. And he told Joseph,
“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:20 ESV
Moreover, even the prophecies spoken by the angel are similar: the angel tells Samson’s mother that her son “shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (13:5). In Matthew 1:21, the angel tells Joseph that he is to name the child Jesus, “for he will save his people from their sins.”
Here’s the second detail. Tara-Leigh pointed out that Samson was a solo avenger. All of these killing sprees in the chapters we read today, Samson did without an army behind him. Have you noticed throughout Judges that the size of the army has decreased with each judge? Othniel and Deborah/Barak had large armies behind them. Gideon started with a large army, but it was trimmed down to just 300.
But Samson was an army of one. And as we will see in tomorrow’s reading, he was one man who, by his sacrificial death, delivered Israel from the hands of their enemy.
Again, does it sound like anyone else we know?
“But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”” John 11:49-50 ESV
Of course, there are differences. In Samson’s story, there’s a dead lion. In the gospels, the lion of the tribe of Judah is alive! And in Samson’s story, Samson brought down all the stone of the temple of Dagon, and died beneath them. The end. In Jesus’ story, Jesus was also buried beneath the stone. Three days later, He arose. And that was the beginning.