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Character is King: Lesson 1 – The Samson Syndrome


What do lions, rocks, foxes, bones, and honey have to do with ministry?

The Samson Syndrome

(Judges 15:14) Samson is a colorful character who illustrates many of today’s Spirit-filled ministers. Samson’s charisma was his greatest asset, but also his greatest weakness. Charisma without character will destroy you and those who follow you. The lack of understanding is emphasized again and again in this story.

  • Judges 13:16 “Manoah did not know.”
  • Judges 14:4 “But his father and mother did not know.”
  • Judges 16:5 The Philistines did not know. “Entice him and find out.”
  • Judges 16:20 Samson “did not know the Lord had departed from him.”
  1. He understood faith but misunderstood faithfulness

Samson demonstrated a strong faith which was able to perform miracles, but he failed to realize that faithfulness produces fruitfulness. He loved to be dramatic and make big impressions. He was smart, but he failed to be strategic. He was clever, but he wasn’t wise. He loved to take ordinary things and do extra-ordinary things with them. He used 300 foxes to destroy the Philistine’s harvest, and used a donkey’s jawbone to kill 1,000 Philistine soldiers. Impressive, yes, but these dramatic victories failed to liberate his people.


  1. He understood grace but misunderstood righteousness

There’s probably no one in the Old Testament who understood God’s grace better than Samson. He knew God was a God of mercy and forgiveness, and always found a way to escape from his dangerous dilemmas. He seemed to thrive on stressful situations. He liked living on the edge, in seeing how far he could go, but he didn’t realize what sin was doing to the fabric of his soul. He was recklessly playing games with the grace of God. His God-given vows weren’t sacred to him. He made jokes about his failure to keep his vows. He entertained the Philistines instead of defeating them. He acted like he was smarter than anyone else and like he didn’t have to live by God’s rules.


  1. He understood religious rituals but misunderstood covenant

Samson greatest fear was that, “I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:7, 11, 17) It wasn’t important to him that he’d broken almost every part of his vow to God. He didn’t trust anyone.  He placed his emphasis on the outward appearances of his Nazarite vow while failing to understand their meanings. He was more interested in his seven locks of hair than in developing his character. Nothing in the Bible is said about Nazarites braiding their hair, but good looks were more important to Samson than sacred vows.

  1. He understood culture but misunderstood kingdom

Samson lived during a time in Israel when everyone was doing “what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6) It was a time of anarchy, and Samson was living the same lifestyle. He didn’t trust anyone and never entered into covenant. He never married and had terrible relationships with women. The consequence of him not entering into covenant was he never fathered a son. He was an extremely lonely man who tried to make up for his lack of intimacy with immorality, only creating more problems. You always find him fighting alone for his own personal vengeance rather than fighting for God’s kingdom.

  1. He understood power but misunderstood authority

Samson was a judge in Israel living before the times of the kings. Because he was a judge, he thought he was the authority, and we never see him seeking counsel from anyone. He couldn’t seem to distinguish between God’s anointing and his personal anger. He always blamed his mistakes on someone else, and though he judged Israel for twenty years he failed to bring any relief from the oppression of the Philistines. His miracles were impressive, but ineffective in delivering Israel.

His death was also his greatest victory against the Philistines. The leadership of the Philistine nation was destroyed; however, he died like he lived–alone, without vision, and misunderstanding the purpose of God’s anointing upon his life.

Like His Fallen Pillars, His Life Ended to Soon Never Reaching His    God-given Potential and Leaving His People Living in Defeat.

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