Q&A: Samson and Muslim Extremists
Written by Arnoud Vergunst
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Reformed Worldviews - Islam

Question: 

What's the difference between a Muslim extremist and Samson in Judges 16:28-30? Why God gave him his strength back while Samson wanted to avenge HIS two eyes (and not the honour of God)?


Answer:

Hi James,

Good question!  There is much difference between the 'Muslim extremist' and what Samson did in his last act of 'redeeming' his nation as judge. Muslim extremists sow terror to advance their agenda and have absolutely no difficulty justifying killing innocent bystanders and children.  They also do so without any provocation. When Samson did his last act he was already for some time the target of mockery.  In vs. 25 it says that they took him from his prison "that he may make us sport." In other words, they wanted to have some fun with this blinded giant. Since he was helpless they didn't fear him. Perhaps they hit him, pushed him around, made him stumble.  In short they were abusing him playfully. Did it occur to you that this was a 'worship service' of their Dagon who was mightier than the God of Israel?  (see vs. 23-24)  
That means that the contest here wasn't between the Philistines and Samson but between Dagon and Jehovah!  We tend to forget this ceaseless wrestle through the history of time.

Samson in this setting comes to his last and probably his most courageous act as judge of the nation of Israel. He sacrificed himself for a nation that has basically abandoned him.  In that sacrifice he took down the "top brass" of the Philistines as they had all gathered there in temple of Dagon. By that 'military self-strike' he crippled the nation of the Philistines for decades to come and in that way paved the way for their eventual overthrow under leadership of king David.

Did he commit suicide? No, I don't think we should look upon his sacrifice as a revenge act or a suicide exit from the misery he was in. It appears that 'revenge' was a motive (see vs. 29b) and maybe it wasn't altogether absent in Samson's thoughts.  This OT hero of faith wasn't without some glaring faults.  They are not to be glossed over but it only magnifies the grace of God also evident in his life.

Warmly,
Pastor Vergunst

Rev. A Vergunst is the pastor of The Reformed Congregation of Carlton, New Zealand.  He answers questions on his church's website, www.rcnz.org.