This morning, as I finished reading about Samson in the One Year Bible, I was struck once again by a thought that first came to me when I read the Book of Judges as an adult: Samson was an idiot.
It is important that we teach the Bible to our children in ways they can understand: children don’t generally understand nuance and the Bible is a nuanced story, so I understand why we play up the heroic qualities of the Bible characters and gloss over their many faults. But, I think we make a mistake when we teach the Bible stories in such a way that leave children with the impression that the Bible is a series of stories about moral exemplars that they should emulate. In fact, almost no one in the Bible is a moral exemplar and the primary point of the Bible is not to inspire us to live better (though it contains much wisdom about living), but rather the primary point of the Bible is to tell us about God and the lengths to which he will go to save his people.
Samson is not a hero; Samson is an idiot. Samson’s story occurs at the end of Judges as yet one more example of Israelite society spiraling out of control. The point of Samson is not Samson himself; the point of the Samson story is to clearly show the effects of sin and pride and to show that, despite all their idolatry and idiocy, God has not abandoned his people.
In other words, the point of the Samson story is the same as the entire Scripture: it is about the grace of God.