5.8 Samson A Type Of Christ
There is no doubt that we are intended to see Samson as a type
of Christ. All the Judges in some way prefigured the Lord; for they
were " saviours" raised up to deliver God's weak and failing
people in pure grace, when according to God's own word, they should
have received the due punishment of rejection (Neh. 9:27,28). He
who delivered " them who through fear of death were all their
lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:15) was typified by all
those earlier deliverers of God's people from bondage (cp. Mt. 1:21).
The " great salvation" of Heb. 2:3 which the Lord achieved
was foreshadowed by the great deliverance wrought by Samson (15:18).
He would have meditated upon the promises of the seed, that he was
to deliver Israel from their enemies, and to possess the gate of
his enemies. When Samson took away the gates of Gaza, he surely
saw himself as being that seed. The way he openly " sought
occasion" against the Lord's enemies was therefore perhaps
a self-conscious desire to in some sense do what the promised seed
Consider the more obvious points of contact between Samson and
Jesus which make Samson a type of Christ:
- The birth of both of them was foretold by an Angel
- at a time when Israel had been handed over to their enemies.
- The record of Samson's birth frequently uses the phrases "
the man" and " the woman" (e.g. 13:10,11), as if
to send the mind back to Eden- with the implication that Samson
was the seed of the woman, in type of Christ. " The woman"
is a phrase nearly always associated in Scripture with the birth
of someone who was to be a seed of the woman (1).
" Of all that I said unto the woman, let her beware"
, coming from the mouth of an Angel (13:13), surely confirms the
- Both married Gentiles; both were betrayed for pieces of silver.
- The supreme strength and courage of Samson in fighting and
killing the lion points forward to Christ's spiritual verve and
fervour in destroying our adversary the devil, which is likened
to a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8).
- 'Samson' means "the sun" - linking with the
Lord's title as "the sun of righteousness" in Malachi
- The incident in Gaza is evidently typical of the Lord's work.
There was Samson, " the splendour of the son" , 'compassed
in' by his enemies (as Christ on the cross, Ps. 118:5,10-12) in
Gaza ('fortified stronghold', cp. death). Then he arose in the
darkness, rendered powerless the gates of death and carried them
up 30 miles to a high altitude (cp. Heaven), to Hebron, 'the city
of fellowship', where the tomb of Abraham was (Gen. 23:19), and
where Gentile giants had once lived (Num. 13:22), conquered by
faithful Israelites. Joshua had taken Hebron (Josh. 10:36) but
Israel had not followed up his victory, and the Philistines had
returned; Caleb then took it (Josh. 15:13), but again, by Samson's
time, the Philistines were back. And Samson, although a type of
Christ, was intensely aware of all this failure (cp. how he chose
Gaza and Timnath, areas with a similar history, for his other
exploits). It would seem that Samson killed the men at the gates,
the leaders of the city, and then took the gates with him (16:3
cp. 2). The Hebrew used for Samson 'taking away' the gates is
that translated 'possess' in the Genesis promises. Thus he possessed
the gates of his enemies and slew their figureheads, as the Lord
did through the cross. Samson obviously saw some specific meaning
in taking the gates to Hebron and the tomb of Abraham. He surely
saw that he was prefiguring Messiah's work of taking the gate
of his enemies, as promised to Abraham. Or perhaps he saw himself
as 'in' the Messiah, and sharing in what He would do in the future.
Archaeologists have found tablets that refer to the power of Baal
to possess the gates of all who oppose him; and Samson evidently
wanted to show the superiority of Yahweh over Baal. The fellowship
('Hebron') which was enabled by the Lord's victory should never
be undone by us; He died that He might gather together in one
all God's people, to reconcile us all in one body both to each
other and to God. To break apart the body is therefore to deny
the essential intention of the cross. There are other points of
contact with the Lord's passion. The men of Gaza laid wait in
the gates of the city; they were therefore the rulers? But they
decided to only kill him in the morning. The rulers of the Jews
" Through death..."
Samson at his death was Samson at his finest; and this was true
of the Lord. Thus Samson was a type of Christ. The way he was betrayed
for silver by the one he trusted means is an obvious link with the
Lord's experience. The way he died with such a deep, deep sense
of betrayal must have found an echo with the Lord. We must have
all asked: 'Why, oh why, did Samson go on trusting her, when it
was so obvious she was going to betray him?'. It may have been because
she was an Israelitess (even if a renegade).The way she says "
The Philistines be upon thee!" (16:20) and the way the lords
of the Philistines came up to her (16:5) may suggest this. Their
offer of money to her was exactly after the pattern of the Jews'
approach to Judas. The way " pieces of silver" feature
in both records leads us to wonder whether the correspondence was
so exact that she also betrayed the helpless Samson with a kiss,
as Judas did. It is suggested in Samson
And Delilah that her betrayal of Samson was done in the
spirit of some kind of loving teasing. She started to afflict Samson,
and had the better of him. She may well have betrayed him with a
kiss as she called the Philistine warriors in. We can reason on,
and consider how she like Judas would have avoided eye contact,
how Samson would have looked at her with a pain and disbelief and
disappointment that is beyond words, altogether ineffable... and
how she as Judas must have lived a wretched life afterwards, until
her (premature?) death. Prov. 6:26,27; 7:1 make clear allusion to
Samson and Delilah, and they suggest that Delilah was a " whorish
woman" . In this case, her motivation for betraying Samson
was fundamentally financial, apart from other lesser factors which
there probably were. The bribe she was offered has been estimated
in modern terms as around $500,000 (1997). And Judas likewise went
to the chief priests and asked how much they would give him for
betraying the Lord. Again, Samson was a type of Christ. This all
indicates the unbelievable materialism which is in our natures:
to betray a good man, even the Son of God, ultimately for pieces
I think it wasn't only that love is blind. In all such deep relationships
there is a sense that we may know full well the weakness of the
one we love, and what they will do to us in the end; and yet our
nature has a tendency to overlook this. This is true not only of
male:female relationships. The problem we have in understanding
Samson (if we do have a problem with it) occurs again, in exactly
the same form, when we consider the Lord's relationship with Judas.
He knew from the beginning who should betray him. He knew that the
one with whom He shared especially sweet counsel would betray Him
(Ps. 55:12-14). And surely the Lord Jesus had reflected on David's
experience with Ahithophel. And yet He spoke of how the twelve (including
Judas) would sit on twelve thrones, sharing his glory (Mt. 19:28).
He loved Judas and treated him as a close friend, even though he
knew that this very close friend would betray Him. There is, to
my mind, no satisfactory explanation of this apart from to realize
the utter humanity of the Lord; that just like Samson, He could
sincerely love a man whom he knew would betray Him. This same Lord
is the same today and forever. He isn't a hard man. He loves and
actively fellowships at the time with those whom later
He knows will betray Him, even now. He doesn't just not bother because
He knows they will later turn nasty. Lord, we salute you for this,
your utter grace.
Micah 7 is a prophecy shot through with Messianic allusion (2).
Christ openly quoted Mic. 7:6 concerning himself and His men in
Mt. 10:35,36. Mic. 7:1 is alluded to in Mt. 21:19; 7:4 in Mt. 7:16.
There are many references to Christ's betrayal and arrest: "
They all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother
with a net" (7:2 = Jn. 8:59; 10:31,39; 11:8). " The prince
(Herod) asketh (for a sign, Lk. 23:8), the judge (Pilate) asketh
for a reward; and the great man (Caiaphas he High Priest) he uttereth
his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up" (7:3), i.e. hatch
their plot together. Because of this, " the day of thy watchmen
and thy visitation cometh" (7:4 = Lk. 19:44). " Trust
ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide (reference
to Judas- Ps. 55:13): keep the doors of thy mouth from her that
lieth in thy bosom" . This begins a reference to Samson's experience
with Delilah. " I will look unto the Lord (Samson first used
the Yahweh Name when he cried in his final suffering)...my God will
hear me (cp. " Hear me this once" )...rejoice not against
me, O mine enemy (the Philistines mocking Samson): when I fall,
I shall arise (Heb. elsewhere used about the resurrection); when
I sit in darkness (Samson sitting in blindness in the prison), the
Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the
Lord, because I have sinned against him (Samson's thoughts, surely),
until he plead my cause (" Remember me!" )...he will bring
me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. Then
she that is mine enemy (Delilah, symbol of the Philistines to Samson)
shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me (as Delilah
did?), Where is Yahweh thy God? mine eyes shall behold her (is this
Samson imagining the judgment, with restored eyesight?)" .
If these connections are valid- and it is hard to deny this- then
Samson died full of vision of the resurrection, judgment and the
final manifestation of his forgiveness which he would then receive.
Paul likewise has plenty of these references in his final writings
in 2 Tim. 4. One question remains: why are there these Samson references
in a prophecy of the Lord's betrayal? Surely Samson was a type of
Christ. It could be that the Lord Jesus was being warned, prophetically,
of how a particular woman could be his undoing, as she was Samson's.
The way the Messianic Proverbs warn the Son of God against a particular
woman lend weight to this. Or it could be that in the same way as
Delilah betrayed Samson, so Judas was to betray Jesus, and He would
go through the same gamut of emotions. This would be why this prophecy
of His betrayal is described in terms of Delilah's betrayal of Samson.
You will recall the words of Heb. 2:14,15 about Jesus: " through
death he (destroyed) him that had the power of death" . This
is exactly the idea of Jud. 16:30: " 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" . Through his own death, Christ
destroyed the power of sin, epitomized in the dead Philistines.
Perhaps there is an allusion in Hebrews 2 to this passage. Heb.
2:15 goes on to say that Christ delivered them who through fear
of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" . Now
that's packed with allusions to the time of the judges- Israel in
hard bondage to their Philistine masters, living in fear, until
judges or 'deliverers' like Samson delivered them from their oppressors.
The same great relief which Israel felt after Samson's deliverances
of them, can be experienced by us spiritually. The sins, the doubts,
the fears which we all have as we analyze our spiritual standing,
should melt away when we recall the great deliverance which we have
received. In practice, Samson must have become a larger than life
figure. We get the impression that the Israelites had a problem
relating to him due to his fantastic physical strength; his wives
likewise must have felt distanced from him, knowing that he had
a spiritual inner being which they had no access to. We too can
feel distanced from Christ as we perceive more and more the supreme
spiritual strength which he had. Yet in all his ways, Samson sought
the glory of God, and means of overcoming Israel's Philistine enemies.
Even his first marriage with a Philistine woman was " of the
Lord, that he (Samson) sought an occasion against the Philistines"
(14:4). Here we see his all consuming desire to actively seek conflict
with the powers of sin which debilitated and crippled Israel. As
we see the forces of sin so strong in our own lives, as well as
in the new Israel generally, we too should have the zeal which he
had in seeking an occasion against our own flesh. It is easy to
think that we are just asked to passively resist temptation whenever
it arises. But the example of Samson and the Lord Jesus was of active
warfare against the flesh, going on to the offensive rather than
being only on the defensive.
There are several other parallels with the Lord's death, following
through Samson as a type of Christ:
- The Jews wanted the Lord's death because they saw Him as their
destroyer (Jn. 11:50). And the Philistines likewise (16:24).
- The way they made sport of Samson (16:25) links with how the
Lord was mocked, and was even the song of the drunkards (Ps. 69:12).
- The Lord's silence was due to His complete humiliation (Acts
8:32,33). That extreme humiliation can be entered into through
a consideration of Samson's ineffable shame. He was given women's
work in prison, grinding at the mill, in order to rub the point
in (Ex. 11:5; Mt. 24:41). 'Grinding' was some kind of figure of
speech for the sex act (s.w. Job 31:10). The " fetters of
brass" with which he was bound would have recalled his games
of bondage with Delilah, and the same word is translated "
filthiness" in a sexual context (Ez. 16:36). The word used
for 'prison' means literally 'house of binding'- n extension of
Delilah's house, they would have joked. One can imagine how the
story of how Delilah enticed him would have become the gossip
of the nation.
- The utter exhaustion of Samson from their afflictions (prodding
with sticks?) is revealed when he asks the lad " Suffer me..."
(Heb. 'allow me to rest / take a break'). The Lord's physical
exhaustion, driven to the limit of human endurance, must be imagined.
- The Philistines didn't kill Samson immediately; they wanted
to prolong the agony of his death. It was evidently their intention
to kill him. Perhaps it was their plan to torture him and then
finally torture him to death at the feast to their god- cp. the
Lord's planned death at Passover. The great sacrifice which they
planned to offer (Heb. 'kill') was probably Samson (16:23).
- Samson dying between the two pillars is broadly similar, as
a kind of silhouette, to the Lord's death between two other crosses.
The way the lad (also a Hebrew? for they spoke the same language?)
" held" Samson's hand is significant, for the same word
is translated 'to strengthen / encourage'. Perhaps the lad strengthened
Samson as the repentant thief did the Lord.
- The final effort of Samson, both to speak and to act, bowing
himself (Heb. 'stretching himself out to his full extension')
with all his spiritual and physical energy: this was the final
effort of the Lord. Again, we see in both how we are lead to a
final crescendo of spiritual effort at the end of probation, although
this may be articulated in various forms.
- The way the body was taken up by brave Israelites after Samson's
death recalls the action of Joseph and Nicodemus.
Samson's Awareness Of Christ
There is reason to think that to some degree, Samson would have
appreciated all this- that he was a type of Christ. Samson may have
recognized the strength of the future Saviour when he gave his riddle
to the Philistines. He meditated upon that dead lion with the sweet
honey in it, and formulated his comment: " What is sweeter
than honey? What (or, Who?) is stronger than a lion (Heb. 'the strong
one'- this is one of Samson's many word plays)?" . 'Who is
stronger than the strong one?' was an idea picked up by the Lord
Jesus in, I suggest, conscious allusion (Mt. 12:29); although it
is masked in the English text. He was the strong one who was stronger
than the strong man of sin. Through His victory, the roaring lion
of the devil lays dead. And in his skull is sweet honey; did Samson
see in this the same meaning as David did in Ps. 119:103? Did he
so understand the nature and method of the Lord's work that he appreciated
that the Lord's victory over all His people's enemies would be through
the power of God's word, lying there in the place of the mind of
the beast He overcame? Yet Samson killed the lion himself; surely
he felt that to some degree he was the strong man who had
overcome the beast, through his application to God's word.
His frequent references and allusions to God's past revelation,
both in his words and actions, would indicate that he was a man
of the word. And yet despite this, he fell so miserably. Proverbs
contains a number of Samson allusions (16:32; 25:28). But the most
powerful are in 7:1,5,22,25-27, where the young Israelite is commended
to God's word, because this will keep him from falling to the wiles
of the Gentile woman, who throws down strong men into the way of
miserable death. Solomon evidently writes with allusion to Samson;
that here was the man who loved God's word, and yet went so astray
with women. And tragically enough, Solomon himself did just the
same! He realized and lamented the tragedy of Samson, as a lover
of the word who fell for the Gentile woman; and then, with all his
wisdom, he did the very same thing! Here, for all to see, is the
crucial difference between knowledge and faith.
However, due to the weakness of the flesh, Samson was a man who
never quite made it, spiritually. In his time of dying he must have
had a strong desire for salvation in the future seed. The way he
pleads with God to remember him for good at the end, as he bows
himself with all his physical and spiritual might, was picked up
years later by the repentant thief. In a similar plight, he likewise
pleaded, this time with the Lord Jesus, to be remembered for good,
even though he was unworthy. And could it be that after the pattern
of many others (e.g. Paul, Jacob) we all come, at the end of our
mortality, to a peak of appreciation of the Lord Jesus, of our own
sinfulness and His saving grace, and of our desperation for His
(1) See Andrew Perry, The
Doctrine Of Salvation (Sunderland: Willow, 1993).
(2) For a fuller exposition, see
H.A.Whittaker, Bible Studies pp. 94-99 (Cannock: Biblia,