By Phil Boatwright
KANSAS CITY, KS (BP) — “Samson,” a new film about an iconic Old Testament figure, reminds us that while man judges our deeds, God judges the heart.
The creators of “God’s Not Dead” (the leading faith film of 2014) are premiering the action-packed drama Samson in theaters nationwide Feb. 16. Starring Taylor James as Samson in a cast with Lindsay Wagner, Billy Zane, Rutger Hauer, and Jackson Rathbone, the biblically-themed tale contains a redemptive message that suggests our failures need not define our character.
“Most people know that Samson had long hair, Delilah cut it off, and that he lost his strength,” director Bruce Macdonald has said. “But there’s so much more. Samson was an unwilling hero, and his journey to regain his faith – the whole story – is relevant today.”
The story of Samson illustrates a champion chosen by God to deliver Israel from her tormentors, despite his failings. And the film reminds us that there is a time for peace, but also a time for war.
Using his God-given supernatural strength, Samson pits himself against the oppressive Philistine empire. Alas, the seduction of a beautiful temptress brings his downfall. Captured and blinded by his enemies, he is left to die, forgotten in a dungeon. But while Samson had made impulsive, often self-centered decisions, he ultimately realized that God was merciful and finally called out to Him, praying for one final victory.
“For anyone who ever wondered if they really could do what God called them to do, this film is for them,” said Pure Flix CEO Michael Scott.
As we learn from examples throughout the Scriptures, God uses us, great and meek, in spite of our weaknesses and failings. Along with their accomplishments, the shortcomings of Abraham, Jacob, Jonah, Paul, Peter, and, of course, Samson are recounted in the books of the Bible. What’s more, it is evident throughout God’s Word that the true greatness found in these men is their faith. Each eventually displayed a declarative trust that revealed their compliance to God’s will over their own.
Nowadays, a man’s past wrongdoings topple him no matter his accomplishments. Can you imagine how today’s social media would vivisect King David after learning he had seduced a married woman and had her husband killed so he could possess her? Would any of his victories stand up against his lust-charged crime?
The new Samson film, however, reminds us that our heavenly Father assesses more judiciously than man. Upon reflection of our relationship with the Creator, in both the Old and New Testaments it is apparent that God judges the intent of the heart.
Though missing the glamour and polish of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1949 “Samson and Delilah,” this new rendering features a lead actor who looks as if he could bench-press Conan the Barbarian. But moreover, the film caused me to consider: Will God reject my service to Him because I have been, and still am, a faulty man?
Thankfully, despite the occasional detour from my spiritual path, the film and steady Scripture study remind me that I’m still one of His kids, loved and used for His glory. I believe the movie will help fellow worriers come to the same conclusion. After all, does a father turn his back on a repentant prodigal son? No. Nor does our heavenly Father. Chastisement and consequences – these cannot be escaped. But then, neither can our God’s merciful tenderness.
Samson was brought down by ego and an ill-placed passion for a deceitful woman. But the story does not end there. The warrior of the book of Judges saw the error of his ways, eventually asking for forgiveness and seeking redemption. In his physical blindness, he saw clearly the nature of his Creator.
I’d say that’s a potent cinematic message for all of us.
Produced by Pure Flix Entertainment and filmed on location in South Africa, Samson is rated PG-13 for violent imagery and some sensuality.
Phil Boatwright is the author of MOVIES: The Good, the Bad, and the Really, Really Bad, available on Amazon.com.