Be a Gideon, Not a Samson

A great way to teach kids moral values is to look for examples in the Bible of people they can pattern their lives after. There are also lots of characters whose life choices can provide a cautionary tale. Gideon and Samson were two men called of God and blessed with special gifts, but their lives turned out quite differently because of their choices.

Gideon: A Man Strong in Character

Gideon was a poor man from a poor, unimportant family. But God chose him to deliver his people from the bondage of the Midianites. When Gideon's call to serve came, he responded with humility and faith that the Lord could strengthen him to be a good leader. Gideon said, "Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor...and I am the least in my father's house." The Lord knew Gideon's heart and assured him, "Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites!" (Judges 6:15-16).

Going forward with faith in God, Gideon worked first to bring repentance to his people. He built and altar and offered sacrifices. Then he did a brave and dangerous thing. He tore down the altar of the pagan god Baal! Gideon knew that tearing down the altar would anger the people. He might even suffer death of the hands of his countrymen. By the hand of the Lord, Gideon was protected, and became recognized as both a spiritual and military leader. Gideon and his faithful men went on to overthrow their enemy in a mighty battle where they were outnumbered by thousands. They had put their trust in God and came out victorious!

Samson: A Man Strong Only in Body

Samson was another man chosen by God to help his people. God told Samson's mother that her child would begin to deliver Israel from their enemy, the Philistines. "And the child grew, and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times" (Judges 14:24-25).

God blessed Samson with unusual physical strength and leadership ability. However, despite being chosen by the Lord and given special gifts to deliver his people, Samson did not choose a life of righteousness, and so his physical strength was not matched by spiritual strength.

The Lord could have used Samson in a great way to lead Israel, but Samson had some huge character flaws that kept him from being the leader that he could have been. He was physically strong, but mentally and morally weak. Samson's troubled life was filled with anger and revenge. Instead of being a man who lifted Israel up to repentance and faith, he wasted his time holding grudges and getting even.

Comparing Characters

Samson's sad story is one of foolish pride instead of the humble courage of Gideon.

He is not remembered as a judge who wisely led Israel, but as a man who wasted his great potential in only thinking of himself. Samson was indulgent, selfish, and prideful, while Gideon was determined, faithful, and humble. These two men who were both chosen by God, but each chose their own path in life. One led to happiness and deliverance for his people. The other led to violence and destruction.

Teaching Our Children

Use the example of Gideon and Samson to teach your children the importance of good choices. Let them see that God wants to bless all of us, but it is up to each of us to choose Him. We need to develop our character to match that of Gideon: humble, prayerful, eager to serve God, teachable, faithful, and loyal.

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This artwork by Phillip Martin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. 

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