To introduce the children to the story and the idea of strength of character.
by Gill Hartley
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To introduce the children to the story of Samson and to the idea of strength of character.
Preparation and materials
- Remind the children of last summer's Olympic Games. What did they enjoy watching the most? Did anyone watch the weight-lifting? Would they like to be really strong like that?
- Explain that you are going to read them a story from the Bible about a very strong man, called Samson. It is from the section of the Bible called the Old Testament, i.e. the section that describes the time before Jesus was born. Tell the story of Samson from Judges 16, either in your own words or in the version below.
Samson, the strongman
by Gill Hartley (based on Judges 16.1-30)
When Samson was born, his parents knew that he was going to be different from other boys. An angel had appeared to them and told them that their son must never have his hair cut. It must stay long as a sign that God's power was with him.
As Samson grew up people began to realize that he was stronger than all the other young men in the neighbourhood. By the time he became a grown man everyone knew he was different from other people. He could do amazing things and no one could defeat him. Some people didn't like this and he made many enemies.
After a while Samson fell in love with a woman called Delilah. One day some of Samson's enemies came to Delilah and said, 'Try to find out what makes Samson so strong and how we can take him prisoner and defeat him, and we will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver as a reward.'
Delilah promised to try. She pretended that she was joking and asked Samson, 'What makes you so strong? How could you be taken prisoner?' Samson replied, 'Tie me up with seven bow strings and then I shall be as weak as other men!'
Of course, it did not work because he had not told her the truth. Delilah kept on asking, on and on, and finally Samson gave in. He told her, 'If my hair is cut, then I shall be powerless.'
That night while he was asleep, Delilah let Samson's enemies into the house and they cut off his hair. Then they led him away, a weak and helpless man. They threw him into prison and made him work at the grinding mill, doing the work that was usually done by oxen or camels. But gradually Samson's hair began to grow again ...
One day Samson's enemies held a great feast. They brought Samson out of prison to do tricks to entertain their guests. They chained him to one of the two great pillars that held up the roof. Everyone was enjoying the feast and taking no notice of Samson. Samson prayed to God, 'Make me strong again, just this once!' He put one hand on each of the two great pillars and pushed with all his might. Gradually the two pillars began to move apart. Then suddenly the whole building collapsed and Samson and all his enemies died.
- Point out that although Samson had strong muscles, he was not strong enough to stand up to Delilah's constant questions! He got fed up and gave in and told her his secret.
Do the children have examples of this sort of thing? For example, do they have to be strong-willed if they're tempted to do something that they know they shouldn't? Do they have to be strong to do something they don't want to? Do they have to be strong to carry on with something that's really difficult?
Ask for any examples of these things in their own lives. What sort of strength were they using then? The same sort as the Olympic weight-lifters, or when Samson pulled down the roof? Or a different sort? Sometimes we have to be 'strong inside' to do what is right. When people are like that, we call them strong-minded, or we say they have strength of character.
Time for reflection
Help us to be strong to do what is right,
brave to stand against what is wrong
and kind to all those who are weak,
today and every day of our lives.
'Father, hear the prayer we offer' (Come and Praise, 48)
You may wish to explain the meaning of any unfamiliar words first (e.g. 'ease', 'courageously', 'pastures', 'rugged', 'endeavour', etc.).