How Does the Story of Samson Point to Jesus?

That is why we needed Jesus Christ to come and save us: Because we could not save ourselves. We also see in Samson’s story the crucial lesson that God will ultimately be glorified, even if it is through our mistakes and blunders.  

Robert Hampshire

One of the most extraordinary and popular stories in the Old Testament is the story of Samson. He was one of Israel’s judges around 1090-1070 BC, which was between the time of their slavery in Egypt and before God finally gave the people what they wanted and called Saul to be their king. It was a time when the faithfulness of God’s people was spiraling out of control.

The story of Samson, in Judges 13-16, is such an interesting read because not only does he have supernatural strength, but he uses that strength to wreak quite a bit of havoc on Israel’s enemies, the Philistines. Also, it is one of the relatively few times that we get to dig into the details of the life of one of Israel’s leaders (outside of the other well-known leaders like Moses and Joshua).

Sadly, most of Samson’s story is not good. He messed up — and a lot! Nevertheless, there are many helpful lessons that we can learn from his life and relationships.

While it is human nature to lionize or even idolize the Old Testament “heroes” (or more often “anti-heroes”), the main lesson that we learn from men like Samson the strong, Solomon the wise, Elijah the fire-caller, and David the giant-slayer is that no matter how smart, fast, strong, old, etc. anyone is — they could never outrun the consequences of their sin, overpower their sinful nature, or outsmart death.

That is why we needed Jesus Christ to come and save us: Because we could not save ourselves. We also see in Samson’s story the crucial lesson that God will ultimately be glorified, even if it is through our mistakes and blunders.

But if we go beyond the surface and examine Samson’s life in the context of the rest of Scripture, we begin to understand how it fits into the redemptive timeline instead of just being a good standalone story that teaches morality (as it is often portrayed).

By that, I mean that if all of Scripture points forward or backward to Jesus, then the story of Samson does, too. While it really did happen and there are lessons to be learned, it makes the most sense when we connect the allegorical “dots” to see how Samson’s life was a clear foreshadowing of Jesus.

So how does the story of Samson point to Jesus? There are quite a few ways actually.

How Samson’s Life Compares to Jesus

How Samson’s Life Contrasts with Jesus

How Samson’s Death Clearly Points to the Crucifixion

If you do not know the story, make sure you read it first in Judges 16:23-31.

Imagine Samson standing within a colonnade that held up the roof of a great house where thousands of his enemies gathered to celebrate their victory of Samson, Israel, and Jehovah God. In weakness and humiliation, his arms were stretched out from one column to the other while drunken, on-looking Philistines jeered at him. He was in the last place he ever wanted to be.

So, Samson cries out to God for strength just one more time so he can avenge himself. God responds to Samson’s prayer by empowering him to push out the two pillars he was shackled to, causing the entire house to collapse.

This self-sacrificial act killed not only himself but the thousands of Philistines that were at the party. This made Samson’s death more effective against Israel’s enemies than his life ever was. Then Samson’s family took his body and buried him in a tomb.

Now, look beyond Samson to see the shadow of a cross made by his arms stretched out between the columns. Picture Jesus on that cross struggling to breathe, crying out to God, fulfilling his destiny with the weight of the sins of humanity on his shoulders.

The soldiers mocked and his enemies cheered while Jesus died in unimaginable strength and humility. But while Samson died to kill his enemies, Jesus died to demonstrate God’s love and give life to his enemies (Romans 5:6-11). While Samson’s death offered physical deliverance to a group of people for a short period of history, Jesus’s death offers spiritual deliverance to all people forever (John 3:16).

Although it makes sense in pictures to see the cross itself bridging the chasm of sin between God and humanity, it wasn’t the cross at all; it was Jesus. His outstretched arms, suspended with nails in his hands, formed the bridge for us to walk from death to life. Jesus alone provides the way for salvation because He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

While the remains of Samson’s body will stay in the ground until the final resurrection at the end of days, Jesus’ body is nowhere to be found because he rose again in victory over sin, death, and hell (Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 15) and is still alive, sitting at the right hand of God the Father making intercession for us who believe. (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).

In fact, Jesus has always been alive from before time even began (Colossians 1). This idea brings up the most intriguing angle on how the story of Samson points us to Jesus: That Jesus was actually part of Samson’s story!

What Does This Mean?

We find out so clearly from Judges 13 that the “angel of the LORD” that appeared to his mother, who was described as “awesome” and “wonderful” and who “went up in the flame of the altar” described himself with the famous name of God: “I am” (Judges 13:11).

The harbinger of Samson’s birth and the one who worked a miracle in the barren woman of Samson’s mother was none other than the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ himself!

In these incredible ways, the story of Samson points us to Jesus. It shows that no amount of human effort or ability can save us; you and I need Jesus. His death made a way for us to live forever with him.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/artisteer

Robert Hampshire is a pastor, teacher, writer, and leader. He has been married to Rebecca since 2008 and has three children, Brooklyn, Bryson, and Abram. Robert attended North Greenville University in South Carolina for his undergraduate and Liberty University in Virginia for his Masters. He has served in a variety of roles as a worship pastor, youth pastor, family pastor, church planter, and now Pastor of Worship and Discipleship at Cheraw First Baptist Church in South Carolina. He furthers his ministry through his blog site, Faithful Thinking. His life goal is to serve God and His Church by reaching the lost with the gospel, making devoted disciples, equipping and empowering others to go further in their faith and calling, and leading a culture of multiplication for the glory of God. Find out more about him here.

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