As I mentioned before, I grew up reading comic books, and they formed a huge part of how I viewed the world. I loved reading the adventures of Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Green Lantern, and lots of others. They willingly used their powers, abilities, and skills to protect the helpless and stand up to powerful forces (super villains) who wanted to harm or oppress innocent people. They did this in risk of their own lives, often bearing the scorn of those they've sworn to protect, and frequently they had to make dear sacrifices in order to be the hero that was needed.
Regrettably, I tended to carry this attitude over to my understanding of the Bible, so parts of it were a bit boring to me. Once I finished reading the Gospels and then Acts (with some miracles), the rest seemed pretty boring, especially the letters of Paul and the others. Revelation seemed pretty cool, of course.
One of my favorite books was Judges, especially because it contained the stories about one of my favorite characters, namely Samson. This guy WAS a superhero—in the real world! He really lived, and he had super-strength and maybe partial invulnerability (15:15-striking down a thousand men without any serious wounds recorded). I remember reading about his exploits in an illustrated Bible for kids, and it was pretty thrilling. Once I went to a Baptist university, however, my Old Testament professor pointed out some less than stellar qualities about this man.
First, he was completely rebellious and disobedient. He was supposed to be a Nazirite, which meant no alcohol, no touching of dead bodies, and no cutting of his hair. This “leader” attended parties and most likely drank quite a bit. When a lion attacked him and he ripped it apart with his bare hands, later on he saw bees making honey in its carcass. Without a second thought, he not only scooped some out for himself (thus breaking his vow), but gave some to his parents and drew them unwittingly into his disobedience.
Second, he showed absolutely no self-control. He saw a beautiful woman among the Philistines, and he wanted her. It didn’t matter at all what his parents thought or what God said, he wanted what he wanted right now. One of his greatest displays of strength is found in 16:1-3. He visited a city, his enemies were waiting by the gate to kill him, and in blatant defiance of them he just lifted the gate (weighing tons) and carried it off! But what was he doing in Gaza again? Oh, that's right--visiting a "lady of the evening."
Third, this was thoroughly stupid man. Leave aside the morality of taking on a girlfriend among the Philistines (because that had worked out so well before!), what was he thinking? Delilah asked him about how to take away his strength, he would go to sleep, and lo and behold, somehow whatever he told Delilah had mysteriously happened to him! How did that happen? And not only once or twice, but FOUR times!
I guess my main point is—let’s pick our heroes a little more carefully, shall we?
Lord Jesus, you are the only hero I can completely trust. I want to grow up to be just like you.
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