before the sun goes down

"Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in His sight" (I Chronicles 19:13).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sampson and Suicide

Many people have asked the question: “if suicide is a such an awful sin, why did God answer Samson’s prayer?”  I think the better question to ponder would be: “was Samson really actually trying to commit suicide?”  I believe the answer is no.  Suicide is an awful sin, but Sampson was not guilty of it.  God answered His prayer because it was part of God's plan.

Let’s consider first Samson’s own words before his death—“Let me die with the Philistines" (Judges 16:30).  Samson may have had many failures in life, but he was a great hero of faith (Hebrews 11:32) even into his death.  God specifically appointed him to deliver Israel from the Philistines and Samson relied on God to provide, protect, and take him home when his task was done.  I simply believe Sampson saw his purpose had been accomplished and let God know that he was willing to die.  God could have kept Samson alive (whether he had asked for it or not) but He didn’t—it was obviously his time to go.  God was (and still is) in charge of that.   

Let’s look at other godly men in scripture who were willing (and even desired) to die for many different reasons—none being because suicide seemed the better choice.

Jacob (A.K.A. Israel) mourned the disappearance and supposed death of his beloved son Joseph for years.  When he heard and was finally convinced that Joseph was alive, this is what we find the father of the twelve tribes of Israel say: "And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die" (Genesis 45:28).  Jacob obviously believed that God had kept him alive in order to see his son.  “And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive" (Genesis 46:29-30).  Jacob has raised his family, brought them into Egypt to survive the famine, and has now seen his son alive again…he is sure the Lord must be finished with him, and he says so.  He wasn't asking to die.  He was declaring that the desire of his heart had been fulfilled.  But God chose that Jacob should live for yet another 17 years (Genesis 47:28).  God chose to keep Jacob alive.

Elijah was a mighty prophet of God during the time of the divided kingdoms.  He had been sent unto the northern kingdom, Israel.  God had used him in wonderful ways and yet the prophet finds himself discouraged.  People can get that way, you know.  Elijah felt his life was over and there was no reason to go on.  We see him fleeing from the wicked queen Jezebel and letting God know he was ready to die. "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and come and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers" (I Kings 19:4).  He wasn't contemplating suicide.  He was leaving it in God's hand.  But the Lord makes it clear that He wasn't through with Elijah yet.  Read through the rest of I Kings and into II Kings and you find that not only did he live to do a lot more, but he also NEVER DIED.  When it was time, the LORD carried him away into heaven (II Kings 2:11).

Jonah was one upset prophet.  I am sure you know the story. Twice he said, "...It is better for me to die than to live..." (Jonah 4:3, 8).  He had done what he had been sent to do—preach repentance.  God heard the people.  And Jonah, tired and frustrated, was fed up and ready to die.  God didn't take him home at the point that Jonah thought reasonable, did he? He instead taught this man an important lesson.
Simeon lived in Jerusalem. From the words of the Scriptures, we can assume he was probably up in years.  God had revealed to him that he wouldn't die until he had seen the promised Saviour, Jesus Christ with his own eyes. And he did.  What a precious account we read in Luke chapter 3.  After God allows him to see the infant Jesus, we are told, “Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel" (Luke 3:25-32).  Do you think Simeon was actively seeking to take his life?  Was he asking God to kill him before his time?  No.  He was merely recognizing that God had fulfilled His promise to him, and that He was ready to go.

All these testimonies show us plainly that " also knoweth not his time..."(Ecclesiastes 9:12).  Each one felt strongly that their purpose was accomplished and they simply told God so.  Whether or not God took them home was God's choice alone.  They were not entertaining suicidal thoughts.  They were not seeking to kill one’s self on purpose. 

I believe Sampson was merely acknowledged to the Lord that he was ready—the Lord agreed.  He was not committing suicide.  He was heroic even in his death.

There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.


  1. Hello Brother Kevan,

    I like your blog a lot!! I think some day I will start my own blog.
    I thought you commentary on Samson today was insightful. There were some of Jesus' disciple who thought he was committing suicide by going into Jerusalem, but again we see our Lord setting the example of One doing the will of the Father and accomplishing it He (Jesus) said "It is FINISHED" HALLELUJAH!

    I like Richard Baxter, Stephen Charnock, as well as a lot of the men and women you had on your list of Christians you like, I also like John McCarthur, Ravi Zacharias, and Dean Meyers:)

    I like song's like O Sacred Head Now Wounded, O For a Thousand Tongues, O Worship the King, Amazing Grace, For the Beauty of the Earth, It is Well with My Soul, Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us, and a host of others.

    Movies: Fireproof, Facing the Giants, Flywheel, Chronicles of Narnia (the first 2 so far, haven't seen the 3rd, I will have to wait until it comes out in the library).

  2. That's interesting. It can be a fine line sometimes, I suppose, between what is heroically giving your life, and what is suicide. Motive would have some bearing on it, I think. For instance, the defenders of the Alamo knew they were signing their death warrants by staying, but the motive was to defend their freedom, and fellow Texans. And of course, to consider the Bible, [maybe that should have been first :)] Jesus said "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." ~ Jn. 15:13 Certainly Jesus is not saying that suicide is the greatest form of love.

  3. Thank you, Nathan. Agreed, whole heartedly.