I grew up thinking of Samson as nothing more than a Hebrew Hercules and Esther as just another pretty young queen. Later in life, I recognized there was something more to these two characters: By transcending the limits of their own personalities and circumstances, both underwent an amazing spiritual transformation. Each moved from psychological immaturity and self-absorption to accepting responsibility for the larger good—even at the risk of death. Esther and Samson were not mere celebrities, as I had long suspected, but true biblical heroes.
Celebrities are primarily concerned with visibility, with their own well-being and with fame. We live in a culture awash in the idolization of celebrity. Good looks, athletic prowess, even a public scandal, will transform an individual into a darling of the media, Madison Avenue and political leaders. But celebrities come and go; their shelf life is fleeting.
A hero, on the other hand, risks life or well-being for a greater cause or to save another person. The hero’s unusual and courageous act will inspire others to follow in his or her footsteps. It is in this context that I find Esther’s and Samson’s stories so poignant and moving.