The is a certain subset of the evangelical world that has taken upon itself to characterize true manhood as being macho, tough, and tough on bad guys. Sensitivity is often characterized as a lack of manhood and being brazen, a fighter, and confrontational is seen as manly.
There certainly are Biblical definitions of manhood and womanhood but rarely do they line up with our culture, our American cultural constructs.
What is true manhood? Let me offer some reflections on the life of Samson.
1) From the beginning God's grace is evident in Samsons life.
- His unique birth to a barren mother (Judges 13:2-3)
- The angel of the Lord appears to his parents (13:3-23)
- The LORD blesses Samon (13:24)
- Samson set apart to God (13:5)
It should go without saying that if we are going to experience true 'manhood' or true humanity, regardless of our gender, we are going to need to be a product of the grace of God. We are going to need to recognize God's grace and gifts in our lives both saving grace and gifts but the "common" grace and gifts as well.
2) Samson, of course, had incredible strength.
- Men, particularly in our culture, often see physical strength as a sign of manhood.
- Samson was choosen by God to deliver Israel. His strength was supernatural not merely natural.
While God uses Samson's strength for mighty feats as a judge, Samson's strength is also his undoing because he consistently fails to rely on the Lord. He takes what he has for granted and acts as if he has established himself in his own strength.
3) Samson, however, show disrespect for God and God's laws.
- 14:1-3-- Samson is willing to marry a Philistine. This was a violation of the Old Testament Law--cf. Deut 7:1-4. This issue of intermarriage was not specifically 'ethnic' but religious. Israel was not to be led astray from God, much like in the New Testament a believer is not to enter into a marriage with an unbeliever.
- 14:8-9-- Samson ate honey from the lion. This is a direct violation of his Nazirite vow where he could not go near a dead body and eat unclean food.--cf. Num. 6:6-8. (I assume that killing the lion was not a sin (a) because it was self-defense and (b) there were provisions in the vow if someone dies suddenly in your presence (Num. 6:11ff).
- Samson is easily seduced by women with his first wife and with Delilah.
- 16:1ff--Delilah was a prostitute.
Samson had what men find desirable:
- milatary prowless--victories. He was assertive and took action. Leadership (Judges 15:20).
- attractive to women (surmizing from his relationships with the Philistine women)
- Cunning--evidenced by the riddle.
- (*humorous) 'Mr. Fix-it' --takes down the city gates.
- (*humorous) Good with tools--killed men with a donkey's jaw bone
Samson displays an inability to trust and obey the Lord.
Samson's greatest victory, ultimately his own death, comes not through what humans desire but through a humbling on oneself before God. Judges 16:28, "O Sovereign Lord, remember me..." is repentent and humbling oneself before God.
Like Christ, Samson sacrifices himself to deliver his people.
Unlike Christ, Samson is a poor picture of manhood. He continually displays an inability to walk with the Lord.
We need to be careful that we don't let the temptations of manhood lead us away from the prize of manhood (walking with God). Where are our priorities?