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samson

I ran across this book when I got back from my second deployment.  I either missed it on the shelf or was too consumed with seminary assignments, but we found each other at the right time.  The message and lessons inside are vital to any “strong man” in our world.

Samson is an Old Testament Bible character who gets little attention in the stories or sermons of today.  Samson is also greatly ignored in print.  Most Christians think of him as “the guy who fooled around with Delilah” or “the strong dude with long hair.” After reading The Samson Syndrome, I am convinced that needs to change. Samson has a great deal to teach the modern believer and the men of every generation.

The author, Mark Atteberry, does a great job of detailing why strong, powerful, and smart men so commonly fail.  History is filled with heartbreaking stories of talented men who disgraced themselves by falling into sin.  Abraham and King David quickly come to my mind.  News headlines of yesterday and today all tell the same story. Prince Charles, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Brad Pitt, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse James, Tiger Woods, and General David Petraeus all thought they were sneaky enough to cross a moral boundary and not get caught.  Each of us can name an additional dozen men of good reputation who have suffered a moral failure and public disgrace.

Celebrities and public figures are not the only ones who stumble.  All of us do. Soldiers, church deacons, farmers, mechanics, accountants, you name it, we all falter.  That’s why every man stands to benefit from the story of Samson.

The Samson Syndrome focuses on a set of twelve areas that contributed to his “erratic behavior, his spiritual decline, and ultimately, his failure as a deliverer of God’s people.”  These twelve tendencies are common to men of strength no matter the generation.  They represent the unique challenges that we all face.  The author does a magnificent job of showing how strong men tend to disregard boundaries, struggle with lust, ignore good advice, break rules, have big egos, struggle with intimacy, and often lose sight of the big picture.  You may not contend with all of Samson’s tendencies in your life, but no man can escape their influence.

This is a great book for veterans.  Many come back from a deployment and feel like Superman.  They often express how, “the enemy shot at me and I survived the worst they could throw at me.  Nothing can take me down.”  While many may feel invincible when they return home from war, they quickly get into trouble at home, try to out drink each other, or get into motorcycle wrecks.  That mentality of strong men who feel like they can get away with something is pretty common in today’s military.  Know that this book speaks your language and addresses the life you live.

It is time that we rediscover the story of Samson.  Find time to walk the dusty roads of Israel with our long-haired friend. Hear his tale, think about his life, and reflect on the similarities you encounter.  His example will help you to find your own weak spots in life and develop suggestions on how to overcome them through the lens of Scripture.

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