Reading the Book of Judges While the World Celebrates Pride
"I sometimes feel that God, in the scriptures, is occasionally heavy-handed in his typological pictures of his forthcoming salvation wrought by his own mighty hand. Samson is full of strange, uncomfortably bright flashes of the cross. His birth, his betrayal, his standing, hands spread apart, to push asunder the pillars of the house so that he is crushed by his own judgment."
I agree! And it reminded my of a Samson/Christ poem that my wife Cynthia Erlandson wrote several years back. I received her permission to post it below:
Good Friday: “Let Me Die with the Philistines.”
“And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left, and said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell….” Judges 16: 29-30
“Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up his spirit. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split….” Matthew 27: 50-51
With the weight of the crippled world’s crossbar against his spine
And blinded by blood in his eyes from the crown of thorn,
He is willing to die for the like of these philistines
Who find savage entertainment in taunts and scorn
Of him, their new Samson – exhausted and finally shorn
Of power. They brutally set him up in between
Two pilloried thieves, right and left – but behind this scene,
Unseen, are the pillars of Earth that this Judge was born
To break down – and at this same time to rebuild, where they fell,
His Church: the substructure of heaven and wrecker of hell.
Samson, as simultaneously a type and an antitype of Christ, has always had me scratching my head. But then I think of David, being a man after God’s own heart - ahem - who always seems to steal the show when it comes to characters in the Bible with this schtick. And somehow - I guess because he managed to do a lot of great stuff, which helps us when we look at the balance sheet - David gets a kinda-sorta-quasi-pass, but not really. While Samson is way up there on the cringe meter, yet with the Christ imagery as you pointed out.
In a previous life as a fundamentalist Baptist, I was taught not to “extract” typology from the Old Testament, but to “only look to Christ!” I won’t mention that in the Sunday School room they had an illustration of Samson rocking the pagan temple, posting him up as a hero to look up to. Hmm.
Years later, after a healthy dose of covenant theology, with its glorious framework of God’s covenant relationship with his people, brought to completion in Christ, it was like a key that unlocked the Old Testament, making it a bazillion times more understandable, and interesting, and rich, and scary. So, as you say of Samson, “there he is for us to look at, a suitable picture of what we are like and what we could have expected to accomplish had not God himself come to save us.”
That is a horrifyingly apt analogue to our contemporary situation. Thank you, for your insightful post.
Honestly, you lost me with the illustration of total loss and then total restoration. Maybe I don't need to know the specifics, but then I also don't need the obscurity. Having said that, I will counter with the equally honest desire to share not only your ideas but your feelings. In fact, that desire wins out. Thanks again, Anne, for your ponderings and even more for what flows from your viscera.