Get the story behind the story as writer / director Rebecca Martin takes us behind the scenes with an insightful look at what inspired her creativity in portraying this superhero of the faith as she wrote "Samson: the Last Judge."
I’ve never been a follower of the superheroes – although I have found myself wishing I could soar through the air, climb steep walls, and spin a web over a few people. And I’m certain that I’ve gotten frustrated enough to turn into a green monster.
The Bible says that the Old Testament stories are there for our example (Romans 15:4). If so, surely these were flesh and blood people, exactly like us - people called to overcome their human nature and don the nature of God.
Samson is often portrayed as an example of “who not to be.” If that portrayal is accurate, how did he end up in the list of prestigious heroes of our faith (Hebrews 11)?
When writing the script for “Samson”, I laid aside the comic book notions of Samson and let the Bible speak fresh about this often underrated man of God.
Oddly enough, I learned much from what the Bible DOESN’T say about Samson.
Here are three supposed notions that the Bible DOESN’T teach about Samson.
1. THE BIBLE DOESN’T SAY SAMSON’S STRENGTH CAME FROM HAVING MUSCLES!
Samson is almost always portrayed as a muscular mix of a long-haired rock star and a pro wrestler. But the Bible says that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson” then he was able to do incredible things.
When Samson killed a lion with his bare hands, he didn’t tell anyone (Judges 14:6b). He seems to be taken-back by his own strength. Can you imagine one of these protein-shake body builders, who never misses a workout, NOT bragging about that? Why, Facebook would be inundated with selfies and the lion! To portray Samson’s strength as the product of his physique distracts from what the Bible strongly states was the source of his incredible strength. Simply put, the story of Samson teaches us that the secret of our godly strength is notin how many muscles we have, but in our spiritual and physical covenant with God – exemplified by Samson’s hair.
2. THE BIBLE DOESN’T SAY SAMSON WAS THE “DUMB JOCK” STEREOTYPE!
I challenge you to make up a riddle. A riddle isn’t a “why-did-the-chicken-cross-the-road / knock-knock” joke! It is a mind game. It takes intelligence to come up with a riddle and intelligence to solve one.
Samson was smart, as well as creative and entertaining. He was no one’s fool. Well, almost no one’s.
3. THE BIBLE DOESN’T SAY SAMSON WAS A WOMANIZING ROMEO!
Samson gets the rap for being the testosterone king who couldn’t keep his mind off women. Several Bible greats experienced moral failures, but their lives aren’t totally “defined” by them.
ABRAHAM –Father of the Jews. Wife Sarah. Mistress Hagar. And several concubines (Genesis 25:6).
DAVID – A man after God’s own heart. Eighteen+ wives. Ten+ concubines (2 Samuel 5:13).
SOLOMON – Built the temple of God. 700 “princess” brides! 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3)!
Then there was SAMSON.
When I say Samson, you say ………?
Most say, “and DELILAH!”
There is a prevailing inclination to relegate all the good Samson did in his lifetime to fine print, while bold caps, underlining the life-moment with DELILAH.
Isn’t that so like us to let a brief bad stint become our story?
Look what the Bible does say about Samson’s love life. He chose ONE woman and asked his parents if he could marry her. “A godless Philistine”, you might say. Yet Samson could discern God’s will better than those deemed more spiritual. The Bible says his parents rebuked him for wanting to marry a Philistine. Then follows with this comment: “His father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord …” (Judges 14:4).
Tragedy strikes Samson when his riddle backfires and his young bride ends up burned to death by the Philistines. Was his life then consumed with tales of womanizing?
No. For 20 years Samson was a dutiful and successful Judge of Israel. During that time, nothing is mentioned about other women. No marriages. No affairs. No concubines. No illegitimate children.
Now, in his forties or older, the Bible notes, on a whim, “Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her” (Judges 16:1).
Then the Bible recounts the infamous moment that would forever define Samson: “It came about that he LOVED a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah”(Judges 16:4). Note – he LOVED her.
In writing “Samson” I became aware that I was writing about US – not some antediluvian incredible hulk. There is much to be learned from biblical heroes if we only realize they weren’t so different from us.
There was no SUPER man in the Bible, only ordinary men and a SUPER God.