Why did God's spirit inspire Samson to kill 30 men?


Samson killed 30 men when they lost a riddle because he wanted their clothes. But why did God’s spirit inspire him to do a sinful act like that?


As I read the Old Testament, the tone seems to be different from the New Testament. Jesus Christ who is God appears as a loving and kind Person, which contrasts sharply to the impression we sometimes get of God in the Old Testament.


Welcome to Gnosticism and/or Manicheanism, Tomdstone. That’s what they believed: the OT God was ‘mean’ and the NT God was ‘loving’. The next logical step in the progression is the conclusion that therefore, the OT God and the NT God are distinct from each other and are, somehow, in opposition to each other… :wink:


So is the Catholic teaching that in the OT and the NT the tone is the same?


The Old Testament people did not have Jesus in their midst to correct their sometimes erroneous view of God.
For example, they believed that illness was always a punishment form God.
Things like that. People have always done bad things “in the name of God or religion”. Doesn’t mean they have a correct viewpoint, or the correct motives.
The Bible is important in BOTH parts. We learn from mistakes, and we begin to understand the many Covenants God made with people who love Him.
Everything is fulfilled and brought to perfection through the life of Christ.
You can’t really separate one from the other. It’s all important to salvation history.


If by ‘tone’, you mean “God in the OT and the NT is a loving God”, then yes. You seem to be saying that this is not the case. That’s a rather naive and surface reading of the OT…


God’s Spirit did not *inspire *him to kill the thirty men. He only gave Samson the strength to kill them as He gave him the strength to kill the lion. It had been prophesied that Samson would be the one to begin to rescue the Israelites from the Philistines (Jdg 13:5). The Lord gave Samson incredible physical strength, however it is clear that God did not give Samson the strength to turn away from unwise decisions and sin. Yet, God used even the sins of Samson to help the Israelites. In no way did God encourage Samson to pick a Philistine bride- but He allowed it. He especially would not have encouraged Samson to touch the carcass of the lion for that was a violation of the Nazarite vow. The key to the text, IMO, is that God “was seeking an occasion against the Philistines.” The Philistines were wicked and had oppressed Israel. God was using Samson as the beginning of the rescue of the Israelites.

Keep in mind that this took place in a very different time. Samson was betrayed by his wife and the bet over the riddle was won by cheating. No wonder he was mad. I’m not saying that excuses his actions. But we can’t be revisionist when we look at a culture that existed thousands of years ago. If you want a more modern example of the Philistines, just take a look at the Nazis. It may help you to understand why God was looking for an occasion against them.

PS. Samson has a really interesting story-- he continued to sin and squander what God had given him. But in the end (after his hair was cut, and his eyes gouged out, and he was made a slave by Philistines) he repented of his sin and tore down a pagan temple with 3000 Philistines in it.


Why was Samson fighting the Phillistines in the temple? I forgot the reason why he was at war with them.


Hmm… God inspires people to act sinfully? That’s an interesting take on God… :hmmm:

You’re asking a question that’s more involved than you might think. It’s necessary to look at the context of Judges and understand the bigger picture… or else you run the risk of misinterpreting God as encouraging people to commit sin.

The Hebrews found themselves in slavery in Egypt; worse yet, they had acclimated to the beliefs of their masters. So, when God sent them Moses to lead them from slavery, it was necessary to begin changing their hearts – from the notion of a pantheon of nature gods toward belief in the One God. But, they weren’t ready for this notion, so God had them ‘wander’ for 40 years – one generation – so that the new generation might be prepared to enter into a pagan land and take possession of it.

But, they still couldn’t trust in God, and so, they intermingled with the pagans in the Promised Land (rather than dispossessing them of the land). Predictably, then, the Israelites found themselves adopting their pagan neighbors’ actions and beliefs. Do you want to talk about sinful actions? How about a people – who witnessed God act powerfully on their behalf – turning away from God and acting like the pagan neighbors with whom they shared their land… a land that God promised them, if only they would believe?

So, they enter a dysfunctional cycle: they sin; they experience the effects of their sin; they cry out to God; God sends them a hero to save them; all is well in the land; they turn back to sin… and the cycle repeats again.

Samson is emblematic of this cycle. He is sent by God to save His people… but he, himself, is just as wounded as his people! The Israelites couldn’t trust God enough to wipe the pagans from their lands… and Samson couldn’t pick an Israelite wife for himself – rather, he finds a woman from his enemies (the Philistines) who simply “pleases his eyes.” In other words, he picks a hottie over a Godly woman.

His hottie betrays him, honoring her allegiance to her people over her allegiance to her husband. Samson reacts to the men who enticed this betrayal; in a clan/tribe system, all are responsible for the actions of those in their tribe, and therefore, 30 men pay the price for the harlotry their brothers solicited.

So, is God enticing sinful behavior? It would seem that the answer is ‘no’. Rather, God inspires Samson to take actions that react to the immoral behavior of Samson’s enemies (and wife).

Big difference there, don’t you think, between that and “God wants Samson to sin”? :shrug:


Because all of Israel was at war with them. :wink:

In a very literal sense, Samson was “sleeping with the enemy.” And, not only was he doing so as an Israelite, he was doing so as a ‘judge’ – someone sent by God to save His people from those who were attempting to harass and oppose God’s people…


Was Israel mainly fighting the Phillistines as self defense war, or to gain land from them? I dont know if its true or not, but I read somewhere King David fought wars with them to gain land and expand his territories.


1The simple act of killing human beings is not sinful if done by God or ordained by God.

2For example, if I were to kill a gang member who was about to rape my sister, then I would not be committing a mortal sin, but I still must confess that I committed an act that is by nature a grave matter.

3Even though God allowed and ordered his people to kill, they still had to cleanse themselves of committing grave matter.

The Israelite warriors of the Old Testament cleansed themselves after each war.

:knight1: 4The Israelites were made slaves to the Philistines. God’s plan was to liberate Israel via Samson. :knight1:

5The act of bringing down the temple was indeed a fruitful one. Samon’s last action caused the deaths of 3,000 Philistines, most of them Lords, bring relief to Israel and giving them a chance to reorganize their forces. Israel’s rebellion was in self-defense, ordained by God, and 6it was done with a desire to free God’s holy people from a wicked culture’s influence.

1 Deuteronomy 19:1-13

Legitimate defense
2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not."65

2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.66

1 Chronicles 22:6-10 —> David was unable to build a temple in God’s honor, which, according to the Chronicler, was because of the large amounts of blood he has shed in God’s eyes. Solomon, David’s son, was to build the temple.

Judges 13:1 --> In retribution for Israel’s wickedness, they were made subject to the Philistines for 40 years.

Judges 16:23

Psalms 44 --> :gopray: Our ears have heard, Lord. Our fathers testified of your greatness when you crushed our enemies below our feet, and raised us up above the nations who reproach us. Forgive our present wickedness and save us as you did in the past.


Samson was a type of Jesus and Jesus’ wedding was on the cross and in the tomb so the slaughter of the uncircumcised was a type of the slaughter of Satanic forces as part of our being freed from Satan’s control over the world ceded him by Adam and Eve.
Grace and peace,


The Book of Judges says that Israel “was delivered into the power of the Philistines”; in other words, the Philistines were oppressing the Israelites.

I dont know if its true or not, but I read somewhere King David fought wars with them to gain land and expand his territories.

They were rivals and neighbors. They fought each other, as did nations of the day, for a variety of reasons, including the desire to gain land and resources.


I found it strange that knowing Samson’s strength was his hair and they had him prisoner, why did they not keep his hair short, why let it grow again? Pride?


Because his ‘strength’ didn’t proceed from his hair (or its length); it proceeded from the vow he had taken. Once his hair was cut, his vow was broken; Samson’s strength was gone. (NB: Samson’s strength was the Lord, not his hair!)

When he was able to tear down the columns, as a prisoner, it wasn’t from his own power, but simply because he cried out to God and asked for mercy.


Why did God want Samson to kill the 30 men? Samson wasnt fighting them in battle at the time.


God understands the deepest thoughts of every man. It would be a mistake for us to think that the 30 persons whom Samson murdered were random and innocent.

The are plenty of bible verses which assert that the wicked suffer much more than the righteous, to the point where they meet undesirable ends. Justice was afflicted upon Israel’s enemies.

:extrahappy: If God the Father went to such lengths to preserve his people, then lets rejoice, and bath ourselves in the blood of the fallen.

Psalms 58 : Smash their teeth in their mouths, let them dissolve. The Just shall be glad when they see God’s vengeance, and they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.

“Let death surprise them.”

What goes around comes around. If the 30 men lived violent lives, than they would naturally die violent deaths. What you reap is what you sow.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.