A Study In Biblical Biography -- By: George F. Herrick

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 037:146 (Apr 1880)
Article: A Study In Biblical Biography
Author: George F. Herrick


A Study In Biblical Biography

Rev. Geo. F. Herrick

Perhaps no biographical sketch of all the Bible furnishes more real difficulty than that of Samson. We are baffled in our attempt rightly to understand the character presented. The strange romance of the story doubtless often charmed our childish imaginations. The marvellous and almost incredible strength of Samson, the startling and rapidly shifting scenes which form the setting of his exploits; the oddity of his acts and of his sayings, the tragic ending of his life — all combined to make a strong impression upon us.

But in our maturer years we have, not unlikely, been as much repelled by the defects in the moral character of the hero as we were once attracted by his prowess. And it may be that we have turned aside from the record, feeling that it is a riddle more difficult of solution than the one Samson proposed to the guests at his wedding-feast. We see, on the one hand, that Samson, in a more marked and conspicuous manner than was the case with most of the remarkable characters of Old Testament history, makes his appearance upon the stage of human life under God’s especial and miraculous interposition and care. It is repeatedly asserted that the “Spirit of the Lord” came upon him. God answered his last prayer for vengeance on his enemies; and finally,

his name is found among those mentioned by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews as men who, “through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and obtained a good report.”

On the other hand, the whole moral and social character of Samson seems erratic and defective. He marries a wife among a people who are his own and his people’s enemies. He holds relations repeatedly with disreputable women. He hesitates not to utter what is false. Certainly, so far as the record goes, he seems very little of a saint. Nay, let us frankly say it, if judged by .the principles of Christian character as taught in the New Testament, the character of Samson, so far as we can apprehend it from the narrative in the Book of Judges, utterly fails. Now, it may be, in relation to this and to other sketches of character given in the Biblical narrative, as is true in relation to some very briefly stated facts, and still more in relation to some imperfectly revealed teachings of the sacred word, that, while some knowledge is given us, we must wait for full and perfectly satisfying knowledge till we shall behold both human characters and all spiritual truth no longer as through a glass darkly, but face to face. If this be so, it is to be hoped that we can exercise the needed patience and the needed docility. The truth of God is an infinite sea, and will satisfy our souls, as they develop, ...

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