Monday July 27, 2009
Monday July 27, 2009
by Dan Peeler
Minister for Children and Families
The Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily… Judges 14.6
In a recent study of the Book of Judges, we have been examining the story of Samson, the famous strongman of Old Testament legend. In our time, however, when most children (and adults) think of a man of great strength, the first image that comes to mind is DC Comics’ Superman. But there are major differences. Samson was pictured as almost totally self-centered, quick to anger, lustful, deceitful, vengeful, and easily manipulated. Superman’s ethics are the direct opposite of Samson’s. Yet, to their original audiences, each was considered the greatest super-hero of his time.
Superman, that pillar of impeccable morality, is the champion of the oppressed, the common folks. Samson was essentially seen doing the same job, with the evil Philistine oppression of their world paralleling Lex Luthor’s aspirations of world domination. The two heroes’ results were the same; Luthor in jail for a while, and the Philistines subdued by a defeat or two.
Today, we have a difficult time justifying Samson’s self-centered violent actions as being classically heroic. But the ancient reader simply wanted to see those evil Philistines get what they deserved. So, Samson’s great powers were always credited to God, since it was the usual practice to retro-fit God’s complicity into all manner of barbaric human acts.
But the Judges lived around 1200 years before the birth of Jesus, the Superman writers’ primary role model. The Man of Steel with his other-world origin, has often been the subject of metaphorical comparisons to Christ and his writers and publishers have kept Superman’s motives as admirable as his results. It is not his muscle, but his character that is his greatest strength.
Now as then, our young people spend a lot of time emulating legendary folk heroes, whatever their cultural or biblical origins, but in this instance, I thank God more for the legend in the comic book.
This day, I pray for super-strength of character that the life I live can more closely reflect the ethical example of Jesus.