Samson - Bible study ideas

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Samson and Delilah, movie still

Samson's story

The Bible story of Samson

Bible text for this story

Metal mask of a warrior

Bible Warriors: Samson

A roaring lion

Bible Heroes: Samson

Woman in provocative red dress

Bad women of the Bible

Scarlet rose

Delilah's story

Ancient gold hair or dress pin

Bible Archaeology: Jewelry


Scene from the movie 'Samson and Delilah'

Samson's hatred of his captors kept him alive
despite the cruelty of 
his life as a blind slave

 


Bible text for Samson's story 


 


 


   

 

Activities for individuals or groups


Movies with flawed heroes


Stage 1:  Make up a list

List some films that have flawed heroes. You can choose recent films or classics. If this is a group activity, choose films most people know. 

Stage 2:  Glance over your list

1.  Have you chosen films that are realistic, or do you prefer films that are inspiring/uplifting?

In 'Absolute Power', Clint Eastwood's character is an out-and-out criminal, yet he is the hero of the story. Like Samson, 
he is an avenger.

2.  Do your favorites have both these qualities?
3.  What does this say about you and what you need in a story?

Stage 3:  Choose your favorite 
4.  What are the central relationships in this film? 
5.  Is the relationship shown in a realistic light? 
6.  Do any of the scenes remind you of your own life or experiences?
7.  Or does the film express what you would like/not like to have in your relationships?

Stage 4:  Think about your choices

Group activity: discuss these questions, making sure everyone in the group has a chance to talk about their ideas.

Single activity: sit down for a few minutes and focus your mind; make a quick list of your favorites; read through the Stage 3 questions, and decide on your answers; think about them as you do other tasks in your day.


Some movies about flawed heroes 

Can you name these movies?

Can you see a connection with Samson's story?

'Dirty Harry': like Samson, he feels justified in murdering his enemy

'Rocky': a violent, flawed fighter who is nevertheless a hero

'The Searchers': a deeply flawed hero who tries to kill his niece because she has been polluted by the embrace of an enemy

'Stagecoach': a strong man loves a woman with a past; can he trust her?

'The Unforgiven'

Answers HERE (see 'Samson')  Can you think of others?

 


Famous quotes


'But the hair of his head began to grow again.....' (16:22)
It was common in the ancient world for warriors to wear their hair in long plaited braids

It was common in the ancient world for warriors to wear their hair in long plaited braids

 

 

This must be one of the most ominous sentences in the Bible, heralding the return of Samson's awesome strength. 

  • What do you think of the revenge he takes on his captors, who have blinded and enslaved him?

  • When is revenge acceptable - in other words, when is it justice rather than revenge?

  • Can you think of an example to illustrate your opinion?




A spin doctor works on Samson's story

 

Samson has traditionally been portrayed as a warrior betrayed by the women he loved, ending up blinded and imprisoned through no real fault of his own. 
But read the saga of Samson in Judges 13-16 and you will see that his relationships with women were unfortunate, to say the least. He was extremely violent. What were the faults in his character that led him into such trouble?

 

Now pretend you are a spin-doctor preparing a media release on Samson. 

  • How would you play up his good points, and down-play his faults? 

  • How would you tell the story to make Samson look good and his enemies bad? 

Write a press release for Samson.


 

 

As the story reads, the motive for Delilah's betrayal of Samson seems to have been a desire for riches

Ancient gold jewelry excavated at Nimrud; as the story reads, the motive for Delilah's betrayal of Samson seems to have been a desire for riches 

 

Reading for contrast

Think about the following question: why does the account of Samson's life in the Book of Judges show him 'warts and all'? If he was a great hero to the ancient Israelites, why didn't the writer of Judges 13-16 gloss over Samson's faults? Isn't the Bible supposed to be edifying? Why would the Bible give such a graphic account of a man's failings?

Gold diademAnswer: the stories in the Book of Judges are arranged so that good examples of leadership (such as Deborah, Jephthah and Othniel) are alternated with not-so-good examples (Ehud, Gideon and Samson). 

 

The whole book highlights the instability of Israel before it had a king. 

Read the story of Samson (Judges 13-16) and then read the story of one of the 'good' leaders: Deborah (Judges 4 and 5), the tragic Jephthah (11) or Othniel (Judges 3:7-11). 

Contrast the two. 

  


Focus questions

1. What are the most interesting moments in Samson's story? 
Samson destroys the Philistine Temple of Dagon; still from the film 'Samson and Delilah' 2. In the story, who speaks and who listens? Who acts? Who gets what they want? If you were in the story, which person would you want to be friends
with? Which person would you want to avoid?
3. What is God's (or in Samson's case, an Angel's)  interaction with the main characters? What does this tell you about the narrator's image of God? Do you agree with this image?
4. What is happening in the Book of Judges on either side of the story? Does this help you understand what is happening?
5. The narrator/editor has chosen to tell some things and leave other things out. What has been left out of the story that you would like to know?
6. Are the characteristics and actions of the people in the story still present in the world? How is the story relevant to modern life, especially your own? 


Extra Websites

Samson as one of the Bible's Top Ten Warriors
Bible Top Ten Warriors: Samson

Samson as a great Bible hero - though I don't see it myself
Bible Top Ten Heroes: Samson

Delilah as one of the Bible's Top Ten Bad Women
Top Ten Bad Women: Delilah

Born to be bad: Delilah's story
Bible People: Delilah

Wealth, and the freedom it gave - this was what Delilah wanted
Bible Archaeology: Jewelry

 

                                        Resources for Bible Study Groups: Bible text, background information
                                                             Samson and Delilah from the Old Testament

 

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