Samson: the Movie vs. Samson: the Bible Truth

The Film’s Purpose

What is the purpose of the Samson film?  According to Pure Flix’s CEO, Michael Scott, “If you’ve ever faced adversity and wondered if God was big enough to see you through it, this is your film.”[1]  Well, if you are a true Christian, you don’t wonder if God is big enough to see you through adversity; you know He is.  But this is very typical of today’s psychologised “Christians”, always more interested in making everything about themselves and their own feelings and (often very) petty problems.

According to Bruce MacDonald, the movie’s director, “Most people know that Samson had long hair, Delilah cut it off, and that he lost his strength.  But there’s so much more.  Samson was an unwilling hero, and his journey to regain his faith – the whole story – is relevant in 2017.”[2]  But where exactly are we told in Scripture that Samson was “an unwilling hero”?  That is fantasy, not fact.  Yes indeed, “there’s so much more” to Samson than his long hair, Delilah, and the loss of his strength, and I used the same words in my book about Samson, published in 2013, entitled The Life and Ministry of Samson the Strong.[3]  But the wonderful biblical account of Samson teaches us so very much more than what this movie’s makers realise or appreciate.  To quote from my book: “When most people think of Samson, even most Christians, they only think of two aspects of his life: his great strength, and his great sins.  Mention his name, and these are the two things that immediately come to mind.  But to narrowly focus only on these two aspects of his remarkable life is to miss out on the immense blessing the child of God can receive from a proper study of the life of this amazing man.  There is so much more to Samson!  He was one of God’s ministers, a man who loved the Lord, a man of faith, a man uniquely raised up by the Lord to be a great Judge of Israel!”  And: “[Samson] was a true believer, a regenerated and converted man, a minister of the Lord, and a man of great faith!”[4]

Changing the Meaning of “Redemption”

The film was advertised with the following words: “Passion, Betrayal, Redemption.”  At other times: “Chosen.  Betrayed.  Redeemed.”  Such words were obviously employed for their eye-catching appeal.  Passion and betrayal: standard fare in countless movies, because filmmakers know these are the things that grip moviegoers.  But redemption?  This is a subtle, but very inaccurate, use of the word when applied to Samson in this way.  The meaning the filmmakers are seeking to put across is that Samson redeemed himself, at the end of his life, thereby making up for all the evil things he had done.  The idea behind the word’s use, here, is along these lines: “Samson committed serious sins (or would they prefer “faults”? – it’s less harsh), but in the end he redeemed himself by destroying the Philistines.”  This is the common usage of the word today.

But the biblical meaning of redemption is very different!    All men are sinners, and enter this world in bondage to sin.  Biblically, to redeem someone means to purchase the spiritual freedom of one who was in bondage to sin, a slave to sin, a prisoner to sin.  A ransom is the price paid to redeem; and our Lord Jesus Christ paid the ransom for the redemption of His elect!  And the ransom which He paid to purchase their liberty was His own blood. As He Himself said: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).  Christ Jesus paid the price of the redemption of His chosen people, to deliver them from all their enemies: bondage to sin, bondage to Satan, the curse of God’s broken law, eternal death, and the wrath of God.  He took their place!  He purchased His people with His own blood (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Pet. 1:18,19).  He died for them, His blood was shed for them, and by His blood He redeemed them.

Clearly, the biblical meaning of redemption was not what the makers of Samson meant when they used the word in their advertising.

Many Errors and Inaccuracies in the Movie

The movie contains many errors and inaccuracies.  Here are some of them.

* From the official Samson website: Samson was “renowned for the prodigious strength that he derived from his uncut hair.”  Wrong!  It is precisely such stupid, unbiblical statements as this which cause so many unbelievers to mock the Bible.  As I wrote in my book, The Life and Ministry of Samson the Strong:  “For what made him strong?  This is where many have gone astray.  They attribute his great strength to some magical powers supposedly in his hair!  This is such a superstitious notion, and no wonder atheists and liberals reject the Scriptures when they hear foolish statements like this.  It was not Samson’s hair that made him strong, but his faith in God!”  Again: “It was not that Samson’s strength was in his hair!  That would be absurd, and yet it is astounding how many people believe it.  His great strength was not in his hair, it was in his consecration, and obedience, to the Lord; and the badge of that was that no razor had come on his head.  The Lord had forbidden him to cut his hair…. To cut it off would be an act of rebellion against the Lord, and God would remove his strength from him.”[5]

With the official website of the movie making ridiculous and unbiblical statements such as this, it is obvious that the film cannot be biblically accurate or doctrinally sound!  The makers themselves don’t know the truth – how possibly can they convey it to others via their film?

* The synopsis went on: the film will inspire audiences to “realize that life’s failures need not define their future.”[6]  Life’s failures?  Samson sinned.  He fell into great sin.  But evidently that would be a word too harsh for worldly, modern moviegoers.  Rather talk of “life’s failures”!  As for saying that people will “realize that life’s failures need not define their future”, let’s look at this biblically, not as defined by modern “Christianity’s” feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy emotion-driven fluff.  The following is from my book on Samson: “Samson suffered terrible chastisement from the Lord for this sin…. his capture, the loss of his eyes, and even ultimately, his death.”[7]  He had to repent of his sin, and he did.  His life story is not about picking oneself up after “life’s failures” and forging a “future” for oneself after doing so; it is teaching believers about the Lord’s chastisement for their sins, and the need for repentance.

* Dialogue is included in the movie which is definitely not found in the four chapters in the book of Judges which cover the life of Samson.  Characters and scenes are also added who are not found in those four chapters.  This movie is, therefore, unbiblical.

* From the official website: “According to the Bible, Manoah and his wife Zealphonis were the parents of Samson.”  Manoah and – who?  Manoah was his father, yes; this the Bible tells us (Judges ch. 13).  But what was his mother’s name?  The Word of God does not say!  One will search in vain for any name given to Samson’s mother, let alone the name “Zealphonis”, either in the book of Judges or anywhere else in Scripture!  Where, then, did it come from?

It was an ancient Jewish tradition that this was her name.  But Jewish tradition, however ancient, is not equal with divinely inspired Scripture.  This name does not appear anywhere in the Word of God, yet the website says that “according to the Bible” this was her name!  How can we trust the filmmakers to tell us the biblical truth when they cannot even get a small point like this right?

* Again: “‘Samson’ is based on the powerful, biblical champion chosen by God to deliver Israel.  His supernatural strength and impulsive decisions quickly pit him against the oppressive Philistine empire.”  So far, not too bad.  But then: “After being betrayed by a wicked prince and a beautiful temptress, Samson is captured and blinded by his enemies.”[8]  Really?  Where in the Bible does it speak of Samson being betrayed by a wicked prince?  Delilah, yes – she betrayed him to the Philistines for money (Judg. 16:5).  But who was this “wicked prince”?  The Bible says that “the lords of the Philistines” came to Delilah and told her to entice Samson and discover the secret of his great strength.  Not a word is said about any “wicked prince”.  This is an addition to what the Bible actually reveals.  It is fantasy, not fact.

* In the movie, Samson’s brother mounts a rebellion.  In the Bible, no brother of Samson is even mentioned, let alone leading a rebellion.  Was the Bible account just not exciting enough for the producers, that they had to add to God’s own Word?  Apparently so.

* One of the movie’s main characters is a king called Balak.  In the description given of this character on the official website, it states: “Balak was a king of Moab…. His story is in the context of the time of the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land.”  This is correct – see Num. 22.  So why, then, does a king of this name appear in the Samson movie, when Samson lived centuries after the Exodus and thus centuries after King Balak?  By tying the character to King Balak of the time of the Exodus, which occurred centuries before, this just creates confusion in the minds of most people, whose knowledge of the Bible’s timeline is limited at best, and non-existent as far as most of the world is concerned.