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People have married for a host of unusual reasons, but Samson is perhaps one of the few in history to have wedded for the express purpose of picking a fight with the bride’s extended family.

Samson was born to Manoah and his wife—a righteous couple who had been barren for years. God revealed that just as Samson’s birth was special, so, too, was his life to be special. He was to be set apart, bound by a lifelong Nazirite vow.

In the Bible, people were set apart not just for the sake of being different—such honor always had a specific purpose. Samson’s purpose was to begin the rebellion against Israel’s most notorious oppressors, the Philistines.

As required by the rules governing Nazirite vows, Samson was expected to abstain from three things: alcohol, contact with anything unclean (such as dead bodies), and haircuts.

Before he died, Samson probably violated all three requirements. He behaved as if he were above any rule or responsibility. Even his choice of a wife was baffling to his God-fearing parents, for Samson had demanded to be united to a Philistine woman. This, however, turned out to be one of God’s strategic masterstrokes—the writer of 1 Samuel revealed that God used this marriage as an opportunity for Samson to confront the Philistines. Samson did just that.

After Samson decimated their crops, the Philistines murdered Samson’s wife and father-in-law. Samson retaliated by going on a violent rampage, nearly bringing the Philistines and their Israelite subjects to full-scale war. In the end, another woman named Delilah proved to be Samson’s undoing, and Samson’s greatest achievement—the destruction of the temple to Dagon and the slaughter of everyone in it—brought about his own death, too.

Even though the book of Judges portrayed his life as something of a profitable disaster, Samson still managed to earn a mention—albeit a passing one—in the “faith hall of fame” found in the book of Hebrews. Samson’s life is an object lesson of both the high cost of sin and God’s ability to bring victory from even our greatest failures.