Samson - Judge and Nazirite

Samson of Judges Was a Self-Indulgent Man of Strength Who Returned to God

Samson of Judges
Culture Club / Contributor

Samson stands as one of the saddest figures in the Old Testament, a person who started with great potential but squandered it on self-indulgence and sinful living.

Remarkably, he is listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11, honored alongside Gideon, David, and Samuel. In the last moments of his life, Samson returned to God, and God answered his prayer.

The Story of Samson in Judges 13-16

Samson's birth was a miracle. His mother was barren, but an angel appeared to her and said she would give birth to a son. He was to be a Nazirite all his life. Nazirites took a vow to abstain from wine and grapes, to not cut their hair or beard, and to avoid contact with dead bodies.

When he reached manhood, Samson's lust overtook him. He married a Philistine woman from the pagan conquerors of Israel. That led to a confrontation and Samson started killing Philistines. On one occasion, he took up the jawbone of a donkey and killed 1,000 men.

Instead of honoring his vow to God, Samson found a prostitute. Some time later, the Bible says, Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah from the Valley of Sorek. Recognizing his weakness for women, the Philistine rulers convinced Delilah to seduce Samson and learn the secret of his great strength.

After several failed attempts to trap Samson, he eventually gave in to Delilah's nagging and told her everything: "No razor has ever been used on my head," he said, "because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man." (Judges 16:17, NIV)

The Philistines then seized him, cut off his hair, gouged out his eyes, and made Samson a slave. After a long time of grinding grain, Samson was put on display during a feast to the Philistine god Dagon. As he stood in the crowded temple, Samson positioned himself between two key pillars.

He prayed to God to give him strength for one final act. It had not been Samson's long hair that was the true source of his power; it had always been the Spirit of the Lord coming upon him. God answered his prayer. Samson pushed the pillars apart and the temple crashed down, killing himself and 3,000 enemies of Israel.

Samson's Accomplishments

Samson was dedicated as a Nazirite, a holy man who was to honor God with his life and provide an example to others. Samson used his physical strength to fight Israel's enemies. He led Israel for 20 years. He is honored in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith.

Samson's Strengths

Samson's incredible physical strength allowed him to fight Israel's enemies throughout his life. Before he died, he realized his mistakes, returned to God, and sacrificed himself in a great victory.

Samson's Weaknesses

Samson was selfish. God placed him in a position of authority, but he was a bad example as a leader. He ignored the disastrous consequences of sin, both in his own life and its effect on his country.

Life Lessons from Samson

You can serve yourself, or you can serve God. We live in a culture of sensuality that encourages self-indulgence and flaunting of the Ten Commandments, but sin always has consequences. Do not rely on your own judgment and desires, as Samson did, but follow the Word of God for guidance in living a righteous life.


Zorah, about 15 miles west of Jerusalem.

References to Samson in the Bible

Judges 13-16; Hebrews 11:32.


Judge over Israel.

Family Tree

Father - Manoah
Mother - Unnamed

Key Verses

Judges 13:5
"You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines." (NIV)

Judges 15:14-15
As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. (NIV)

Judges 16:19
After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him. (NIV)

Judges 16:30
Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. (NIV)

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Your Citation
Zavada, Jack. "Samson - Judge and Nazirite." Learn Religions, Aug. 25, 2020, Zavada, Jack. (2020, August 25). Samson - Judge and Nazirite. Retrieved from Zavada, Jack. "Samson - Judge and Nazirite." Learn Religions. (accessed March 21, 2023).