Mothers of Prodigals: Draw Hope from Samson

The smell of burning sacrifices made it impossible for Samson to ignore the Philistines’ celebration. He hung his head. It’d taken blindness and captivity to open his spiritual eyes and loosen the bonds of his self-centeredness.

His mother’s eyes had shone every time she said, “The Lord himself has chosen you to be his special servant to rescue Israel from the Philistines.” How had he not noticed when she stopped reminding him of his calling?        

Philistine cheers jolted him from his thoughts. Maybe he could still do something. “O God, please strengthen me just once more,” he prayed.

Hebrews 11 names Samson in its list of those commended for their faith. His backstory seems to show more flaws than faith. If I were listing examples of faith, I’d hardly include Samson. Yet, God did. Samson’s story offers hope for fathers and mothers of prodigals.

A Promising Beginning and Messy Middle

The angel of the Lord appeared to Samson’s mother and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. …He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judg. 13:3–5).

What high hopes these words must have raised in Samson’s parents. The Lord had set apart their son from the womb to the tomb to be his special servant. Samson’s parents were devout followers of Yahweh. His mother followed the strict Nazarite diet. His father Manoah prayed for instructions on how to bring up their son.

Besides providing nurturing parents, the Lord endowed Samson with special gifts to lead Israel and deliver her from her enemies. Yet Samson squandered his gifts on personal grievances and immoral living. Samson thought he could keep bad company and not get hurt. He paid dearly for his foolishness.

Samson’s downward slide began when he neglected his Nazirite calling. He went into vineyards and feasted for seven days, which probably included consuming wine or grapes which were forbidden to Nazarites (Judg.14:5). He ate honey out of a lion’s carcass (14:9) when he wasn’t supposed to touch anything dead. The man visited prostitutes. Finally, he gave the secret of his strength to his enemy (16:17–20). He served his lusts instead of the Lord.

Like a caterpillar that shows little resemblance to its butterfly parents, Samson spent most of his life crawling in the caterpillar stage. Finally, in the prison of his enemy he sprouted wings.

Like a caterpillar that shows little resemblance to its butterfly parents, Samson spent most of his life crawling in the caterpillar stage. Finally, in his enemy's prison, he sprouted wings. #RefreshingFaith #hope Share on X

Power Prayers for the Fathers and Mothers of Prodigals

Despite Samson’s flaws, the author of Hebrews wrote, “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Heb. 11:16). God remembered Samson’s faith, not his flops.

Despite Samson’s flaws, the author of Hebrews wrote, “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Heb. 11:16). God remembered Samson’s faith, not his flops. #hope #parenting Share on X

Like Samson, we have a holy calling. God has made us priests, and He’s given us authority to pray for our children (1 Pet. 2:4-5). Put your loved one’s name in the scriptures below and pray in faith for your prodigal.

  • For he chose _____ “in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph. 1:4 NIV).
  • For ______ is “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for him/her to do” (Eph. 2:10 NIV). God has given _____ “a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. May _____ use them well to serve one another” (1 Pet. 4:10 NLT).
  • May ____ “live a life worthy of the calling” he/she has “received” (Eph. 4:1 NIV).

Those who neglect their holy calling and squander their gifts on selfish pursuits, like Samson, suffer loss. But, they can return to the Lord and be transformed into the butterflies God’s created them to be.

A Powerful Ending

Samson’s story ends with hope. His great fall awakened his faith. Despite all the wasted years, the prayers of Samson’s parents were answered. Samson died in faith carrying out the prophetic word concerning him.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 Jn. 5:14-15 NIV).

(Adapted from Little Faith, Big God)

Recording—Especially for Mothers of Prodigals

My friends, Melissa Henderson and Monica Schmelter shared their journeys as mothers of prodigals at the Knowing God Zoom luncheon this Wednesday May 5. Click here to listen.

Summer Small Group Online Studies

Thursday Evenings: 7-8:30 P.M., beginning Thursday May 13 that runs twelve weeks through the summer. Our daughter Ginny Wilson will be leading a Zoom study for women on Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson. Contact us to reserve your seat.

Tuesday Evenings: 7-8:30, June 1-July 27th, Debbie Wilson will lead a group in discussing her award winning book, Little Faith, Big God on Zoom. Please contact us for more information and to reserve your seat.

Click here to comment.


Photos by Bankim Desai on Unsplash

Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#InstaEncouraements, #TellHisStory  #Recharge Wednesday, #Grace&Truth,

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  1. Paula Short

    Debbie, I can’t thank you enough for this blessed post. I prayed my prodigal daughters name in the verses you provided, and it brought tears to my eyes. Blessings.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Paula, that blesses me! I know the Lord hears our prayers and praying His word is powerful! Please keep me updated!

  2. Michele Morin

    You have given so much hope with these words, and I am sure that mums of prodigals reading this will feel seen as they find their own story in Scripture’s pages.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Michele, I love seeing how God’s word speaks to our real life issues. Thanks for reading.

  3. J.D. Wininger

    Am thinking of the many years my own dear mama prayed for me. Away in the military; and later having turned my back on the Lord; through it all, she was faithful. I can’t wait to see her again in heaven’s glory to thank her for her faith, love, and belief in me. She truly was instrumental in saving my life; as she prayed me through until God redeemed me.

    • Debbie Wilson

      J. D., that is a precious testimony worth sharing to encourage other praying moms. Thank you for sharing it with us today!

  4. Beth Steffaniak

    Thankfully, my sons are all believers who are active in their faith. But I still see how the sins and mistakes I made as a mom are now sprouting into similar sins and mistakes in their lives in various forms, Debbie. It’s so hard to sit back and see them make those mistakes and not try to intervene or counsel them. But they are adults now so my best weapon in this fight is prayer. I wonder how much Samson’s mother prayed for her prodigal son and how much that impacted his return. I bet it was very instrumental. Thought-provoking post, my friend!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Beth, I imagine her heart was confused and broken to begin with such high expectations. What an encouragement to us when our prayers don’t seem to be having any effect. I know your prayers are having an impact too!

  5. Ann J Musico

    Beautifully encouraging for all mothers!!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Ann! Happy Mother’s Day.

  6. Melissa Henderson

    Thank you for this message Debbie. I am thankful God led our family through the dark times and we now rejoice. God will with us all the way.

    • Debbie Wilson

      I look forward to hearing your story tomorrow, Melissa!

  7. Barbara Latta

    I think God gives us these stories in the Bible to show us there is hope for all of us. No mothers were perfect and neither were their children. But God. Always but God intervenes, has mercy, grace, and pulls us back up again. He gives us hope. Thanks for showing us the imperfections of some of those who have gone before us and the lessons we can learn from them.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Barbara, you’re so right. No perfect parents and no perfect children, but a gracious God!

  8. Katherine Pasour

    You have shared a powerful message of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness. So thankful that He doesn’t give up on us prodigals. Beautifully written–and I loved your alliteration.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Me too, Katherine. He is long-suffering. Thank you!

  9. Jeanne Takenaka

    Debbie, God must know I need extra verses to pray over our sons, one in particular. This post was perfect for my heart today. Thanks for sharing your insights about Samson. I’d never thought about his life from the perspective of his mother before. How eye-opening!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Jeanne, it encourages my heart to pray scripture. I’m glad those verses were timely for you! You may enjoy the recording after the blog of the testimonies given today. Blessings to you!

  10. Lauren Renee Sparks

    You are singing my tune with praying scriptures. And I love this encouragement with Samson. I will be featuring you next Friday on Grace and Truth!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Lauren! God bless you and your work.

  11. Dawnisha Boyd

    Thank you for this encouraging story. I believe God hears and answers our prayers. I thank God for the authority he has given us to pray over our children. Thank you Lord for seeing their faith and not their flaws.. I await my children’s return home like the prodigal son.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen! Blessing to you and may God answer your prayer in ways better than you can imagine!

  12. Linda Owens

    I’ve lost my youngest son a year ago to drugs- there are no words- unless you’ve been in my shoes. You cannot begin to understand—GOD Always protected him but not this last time- I LOVE GOD but I am crushee-

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