Could Samson's Death Be Considered Assisted Suicide?

A skeptic I ran across saud that God’s assistence to Samson in Judges 16 is technically assisted suicide. What do you think?

Jdg 16:27 Now the house was full of men and women, and all the princes of the Philistines were there. Moreover about three thousand persons of both sexes, from the roof and the higher part of the house, were beholding Samson’s play.
Jdg 16:28 But he called upon the Lord, saying: O Lord God remember me, and restore to me now my former strength, O my God, that I may revenge myself on my enemies, and for the loss of my two eyes I may take one revenge.
Jdg 16:29 And laying hold on both the pillars on which the house rested, and holding the one with his right hand, and the other with his left,
Jdg 16:30 He said: Let me die with the Philistines. And when he had strongly shook the pillars, the house fell upon all the princes, and the rest of the multitude, that was there: and he killed many more at his death, than he had killed before in his life.

I think that’s hogwsh!

You could make the same dumb argument about Jesus’ death on the cross!

Since Samson is numbered as the saints he must have been told by God to do what he did.

It doesn’t have to be in scripture for that to be true.

If God told him to lay down his life for his fellow countrymen in Israel it would go right along with what Jesus said “Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friends”.

Every living thing only goes on living each second because God wills it. When God allows him/her/it to die, he/she/it dies. Obvious He “assists” all deaths, and every one who successfully commits suicide is “assisted” by God because He does not prevent it.

That’s the whole point about why it’s grossly immoral for any human to assist a suicide. It’s PLAYING GOD. We are NOT God.

Israel & the Philistines were at war.
Samson was a prisoner of war.
As a prisoner of war, he was, then, still a combatant.
Combatants are called upon to fight & slay the enemy, even at the price of their own lives.
Samson fought & killed the enemy in the only way which he could.
Therefore: Samson died as a combatant in a war. If he were American, what he did would qualify him for burial with full military honors.
:shrug: Doesn’t sound like suicide to me!!

I think it is a good example of Double Effect. Sampson’s intent was to eliminate Israel’s enemies. His death was the unintended side effect.

We need to be careful when we go down this road. Isn’t this statement a similar argument used by non-christian cults for why they teach some of the things they teach?

I agree.

I think that is an unhelpful understanding of it. A less misleading analogy would be with the deaths of the Decii in Roman history: in 340 BC, & again in 295, members of this family “devoted” themselves to the dei inferi in battle, so as to ensure victory by Rome against the Samnites. Their sacrifice had the desired effect, as did Samson’s.

Although there are differences, ISTM that the death of Samson can be regarded as a form of devotio. *Devotio *is not suicide - it has a public & religious character that suicide lacks; it is an act of holy war, which was something with which the Romans were as familiar as the Israelites. There are other similarities between Israel & Rome; which is a reason to see a similarity here.

I’d bet that this apparently naive truth-seeking “skeptic” is in fact someone with an agenda, and his next assertion will be, “well if even your God thinks assisted suicide is OK, then you should stop opposing it”.

A lot like the equally fallacious “Many pregnancies naturally end in miscarriage. So in fact God “aborts” more babies than anyone else. So anyone who believes in God should not oppose abortion.”

Yes, Samson’s suicide is not suicide in the strict sense but falls under the principle of double-effect. In throwing down the temple he is not primarily willing his own destruction but merely tolerates it as a secondary effect.

This is a good article on the subject:

Perhaps the more relevant challenge is:

Can anyone show the moral difference between Samson and the 9/11 suicide bombers? (The only one I can see is that Samson had personally been captured and mistreated–though of course he had previously committed acts of violence against the Philistines. So if a Guantanamo detainee were to commit a suicide bombing, I’d have a lot of trouble seeing a moral difference.)


First, Samson was openly engaged in war. When taken prisoner, he didn’t actually surrender, nor did he give any agreement to his captors to follow any of their rules. They knew he was hugely strong, and they had no guarantees that the hair thing would hold him forever, or that taking his eyes out would prevent him from killing people.

So basically, they were taking a guy who was a living weapon and putting him on display in a high population area, in the middle of a busy building, without any guaranteed disarming of his powers or agreement from him to play nice, not escape, etc. Moreover, this was somebody connected with the God of Israel, known to them as a god of immense power who didn’t respect national borders.

If anybody committed suicide, it was them.

Secondly, every free adult person in that temple of Dagon at the time was there with Samson by choice. It wasn’t a case where Samson was just walking down the street, walked into the temple, and started killing people. They went to the temple; they demanded that Samson be brought out on display to “play” for them. That’s like walking up to the lion area at the zoo, sticking your arm into the pen, and then proceeding to tease the animal.

Granted, it’s a bit hard on any slaves or legal minors who may have been there at the time against their own volition, but most temples like that apparently had adults in attendance, not kids.

Thirdly, while Samson prayed to be allowed to die in the building smash, this is actually one of the few times in the OT or NT when someone actually died after such a prayer. (Usually God either improves their situation, or sends an angel to tell them to pull up their grownup pants and go do something for Him.) There was every possibility that God could have made Samson survive, even after him knocking over loadbearing pillars in his immediate area. One more miracle wouldn’t have been a big deal, for God.

You have resurrected a 5 year old thread. We are not supposed to that but rather start a new thread.

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