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Shane Yeoh—Singapore

The story of Samson is one of paradoxes and contrasts. It is the simple story of a man who hopes for greatness, and in whom great hope is placed. Yet he consistently disappoints, just as he is himself disappointed. Importantly, however, within these paradoxes lies the clear answer to a notoriously difficult question: What does God want from me?

The answer can be summed up in several key lessons from the life of the mighty lion-slaying, jawbone-swinging judge of Israel. And it is one that is especially pertinent to Christians in the True Jesus Church (TJC) today.


The first paradox in the Samson saga lies in the circumstances of his birth. Through it we see the crucial difference between being specially chosen and being chosen to be special. Acknowledging the potential gulf between these two ideas leads to a better understanding of what it means to be a TJC Christian.

Samson’s birth was an intensely cinematic affair. In the Bible, God (or His messengers) rarely visited unsuspecting parents-to-be to inform them of a child’s imminent birth. But when such a visit did happen, these children would go on to do great things and eventually be immortalized in the pages of the Bible as spiritual heroes. Examples which come to mind are Isaac and Jesus Christ. On this basis, the Angel’s visitation of Manoah and his wife immediately placed Samson within the ranks of the great workers of God. Furthermore, the divine demands of strict sanctity imposed on both Samson and his mother affirm our suspicions that God had incredible plans for Samson’s future.

Great things were expected of this child.

It is here that the paradox surfaces. While Samson’s birth and childhood were closely supervised by both God and his parents to ensure that this chosen child would realize his Nazirite destiny, to be pure and mighty before God, Samson’s adult life was everything his birth was not. As seen in the previous character study, Samson was, through and through, a worldly man driven by impulse and vice.

What are we to make of this?

First, our calling does not guarantee our salvation. The phrase “born into the church” is common TJC parlance, articulating a widely shared experience of having been baptized as an infant and subsequently raised as a church-going Christian. For many of us, we did not find the church, the church found us. All we had to do was follow the lead of our parents and guardians. Even those who came to Christ later in their adult lives may have experienced being nudged to embrace the truth when they had not been diligently seeking a god to believe in. They, too, feel that God had found them. Those in this category enjoy the Samsonic privilege of having God’s calling thrust upon us—without merit, without effort. However, Samson’s tragedy teaches us that our consecration does not guarantee a life of walking with God, it merely permits it. It remains our imperative duty to continue to “work out our salvation” (Phil 2:12) with diligence and loyalty to Christian principles. We cannot take our election for granted—too much is at stake.

Secondly, raising the youth of our church requires vigilance and effort from the entire church. Manoah and his wife could have easily yielded to the apostasy and degeneration of the Israel they knew. But Samson’s parents remembered the God of their fathers. They were incredibly attentive to the instructions of the Angel, displaying no doubt, challenging no order. Samson’s time—when walking according to God’s way seemed futile and outdated—is no different from the time in which we now live. The church, the religious education teachers, and the family must thus work together to secure the child’s election and calling. Every child of God is precious. We must take our consecration as seriously as God does.

Samson believed that he was “specially chosen.” Taken wrongly, it may cause one to labor under the self-indulgent and misguided notion that one is somehow better than others. God’s calling for the true church today, as it was for Samson, was a “choosing to be special.”

We were elected for a purpose. Our membership of the true church is not a privilege for us to bask in during our earthly lives and then brandish at the gates of heaven. It is a call to be different to the world, to be special, to be the city set on a hill, a light in the darkness, and the salt of the earth (Mt 5:13–15). Samson’s failure resulted from his conviction that he was a “specially chosen” and invincible Hercules, destined to take everything he wanted with his strength. But in reality, he was “chosen to be special”—a son of God destined to save others with God’s strength. Our election is not a convenience, but a commission to bless the lives of those around us for as long as we are able to work.


Samson’s adventures also teach us about using our talents for God.

Firstly, we can only achieve true and lasting happiness if we offer our talents in service to the Lord, instead of scheming to use our gifts to buy ourselves fleeting moments of bliss.

 This is the second paradox: Samson the polymath wore many hats—strongman, sage and poet, among others. How did a man of unequalled strength, quick wit, literary creativity, and boundless courage end up leading a life plagued by disappointment, loneliness, and despair?

It was because Samson the Nazirite—a man dedicated to God from birth—was more dedicated to pleasing himself. Every time he made a decision, Samson asked himself: What would make me happiest? In a sense, Samson had made himself his own god; he used his God-given capabilities to indulge his fleshly desires.

Today, most of us, if not all, have been blessed with many advantages: a strong family, a caring church, loyal friends, and talents of all stripes. The temptation to use our gifts solely for the purposes of office politics or outperforming our rivals is difficult to resist. Many of us think we have struck a happy balance if we use some of our talents for divine service. On honest introspection, it is often the case that God can have what is left over when all is said and done. We still harbor the happy delusion that we can safely navigate between the kingdom of God and Satan’s domain, and have the best of both worlds.

Paul punctures this delusion in his letter to the Ephesians, declaring, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). To attain a true sense of fulfillment and joy, we must not solely invest divinely conferred gifts in the fleeting ventures of the world. Only when we commit our talents to blessing those around us and bringing souls to Christ can we experience the otherworldly joy that comes from knowing that we have fulfilled our true calling as God’s elect.

Samson’s tragedy signals that the road of self-indulgence leads inexorably to the cliff of self-destruction.


Lastly, we examine the third major paradox of Samson’s life. Throughout the Samson saga, the Israelite champion used his great might to antagonize and defeat the Philistines, Israel’s arch-nemesis. Yet, he won his greatest victory over Israel’s foe not by virtue of a dramatic feat of strength. Instead, Samson’s greatest victory was achieved as he leaned weakly against pagan pillars, blinded and alone, the resident clown of his sneering Philistine captors. Once upon a time, the heaving, mighty Samson felled hundreds. In his final moments, after a murmured prayer, the dying, sightless Samson felled thousands.

And that is how God likes to work.

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty. (1 Cor 1:27)

God is not concerned about what we can or cannot do. It is what we will or will not do for Him that matters most. The True Jesus Church had humble beginnings. A hundred years later, we still do not have many rich, powerful or influential members. When others look at us, they see a church not charismatic enough, not fast enough, not sophisticated enough. But these attributes matter little to God. All God needs are hearts that are willing enough. Just like Samson’s at his end.

It is interesting to note that in his final prayer, Samson called upon God using three different terms. First, he invoked Jehovah (YHWH), the covenantal name of God, the name revealed to Moses as God promised the deliverance of His people. Then Samson uttered Adonai, referring to God’s authority and ownership over all things. Lastly, Samson cried out to Elohim, the plural of El, meaning “Strong One.”

We can infer from this sequence that, first, Samson remembered the covenant of his birth—his original destiny as performer of good works. Second, the great and mighty Samson—one of the strongest men to have roamed the face of the earth—finally acknowledged that God was the ultimate Sovereign in all creation and that He was the true source of all strength, including his own. Finally, after everything that he had been through, Samson called upon a God that he finally fully understood. In doing so, Samson also came to fully understand himself. All that was asked of him, and all he had to do, was to trust and obey.


What does God want from us? The same thing He wanted from Samson and anyone else who calls upon His name: obedience. All three paradoxes of Samson’s life point towards this one thing. Samson squandered a consecrated life of promise because he did not obey his vows. He perennially sought, but never found, happiness, because he did not obey. Only at the very end, when he finally learned to trust and obey, did he redeem himself.

To truly participate in what God has in store for the royal priesthood, i.e. the True Jesus Church (1 Pet 2:9), we have to be weak and foolish before God—to always obey, and always trust. The summary lesson of the life of one of the mightiest men in history—it is when we are weak that we are truly strong (2 Cor 12:10)