We might think it strange therefore that in the midst of these, we have someone like Samnson - whose very name strikes a chord with us as someone who was an abject failure - and yet there he is, listed in HEB 11:32, just two names before King David (who certainly took that mis-step into The SIX LETHAL LEVELS of SIN with Bathsheeba, but whose character is otherwise mentioned by God Himself as "a man after my own heart" ACTS 13:22).
Samson was a Nazarite, as well as a Judge of Israel. What is a Nazarite? From GOT QUESTIONS we have the following:
"The Nazirites [were] individuals who voluntarily dedicated themselves to God . . . on the part of people whose desire is to yield themselves to God completely. By definition, the Hebrew word nazir, simply means “to be separated or consecrated.” The Nazirite vow, appears in NUM 6:1-21
". . . [the vow is] voluntarily . . . (NUM 6:2). This shows that it is individuals who take the initiative to consecrate themselves to the Lord. There is no divine command involved . . . two individuals in the Old Testament, and one in the New Testament, were presented to God by their parents. Samuel and Samson in the Old Testament, (1 SAM 2:8-28; JUDGES 13:1-5), and John the Baptist in the New Testament received the Nazirite vow from birth (LUKE 1:13-17).
". . . The Nazirite vow was . . . purely for personal reasons, such as thanksgiving for recovery from illness or for the birth of a child . . ."
". . . the vow had a specific time frame, a beginning and an end [point] . . . (NUM 6:8, 13). So, the Nazirite vow usually had both a beginning and an end.
". . . there were [three] specific guidelines and restrictions involved with the Nazirite vow. NUM 6:3-7 (1) abstain from wine or any fermented drink, nor was the Nazirite to drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins . . . (2) the Nazirite was not to cut his hair for the length of the vow. (3) he was not to go near a dead body, because that would make him ceremonially unclean . . ."
"NUM 6:13-20 shows the procedure to follow to complete the vow. A sacrifice was made (vv.13-17), the candidate’s hair was cut and put on the altar, and the priest did the final task of completing the sacrificial process, which ended the vow (v. 20). This section concludes with the statement, “This is the law of the Nazirite who vows his offering to the LORD in accordance with his separation, in addition to whatever else he can afford. He must fulfill the vow he has made, according to the law of the Nazirite”(NUM 6:21).
". . . there is a New Testament parallel to the Nazirite vow. In ROM 12:1-2 . . . For Christians, the ancient Nazirite vow symbolizes the need to be separate from this world, a holy people consecrated to God (2 TIM 1:9; 1 PET 1:15)."
For the complete article, go here.
" . . . a magistrate or ruler, rather than one who judges in the sense of trying a cause. This is the name given to those rulers who presided over the affairs of the Israelites during the interval between the death of Joshua and the accession of Saul (JUDGES 2:18), a period of general anarchy and confusion.
'The office of judges or regents was held during life, but it was not hereditary, neither could they appoint their successors. Their authority was limited by the law alone, and in doubtful cases they were directed to consult the divine King through the priest by Urim and Thummim (NUM 27:21)'.
Their authority extended only over those tribes by whom they had been elected or acknowledged. There was no income attached to their office, and they bore no external marks of dignity. The only cases of direct divine appointment are those of Gideon and Samson . . ."
You may read about the Judges of Israel in this complete article.
Up until this point of time in Israel's history, the nation had very strong leadership in both Moses and in Joshua; Moses was the meekest man in all the Earth (NUM 12:3) and Joshua was the most courageous of all Israel's righteous warriors, as may be seen in his mighty exploits.
His last words to his people before he died were:
Note especially what he said in vs. 14-15; and the people's responsive actions in 29-31
14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.
31 And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.
Joshua feared that the prophecy of Moses would come true, that the people of Israel would forsake the LORD, worship false gods, and rebel against Him, and thus incur judgment by His Holy Hand, and cast out of the land (DEUT 29).
Yet it was a matter of only three generations after this time that the people of Israel 'knew not the LORD"! The children were not taught the ways of the LORD by their parents (see any similarities to America here in our day?) A time when every one did that which was right in their own eyes - a day when 'relative truth' reigned (nothing new under the sun, eh? See JUDGES 17:6; 21:25)! Israel made treaties with pagan nations, and allowed their pagan altars to remain in the land (JUDGES 2:1-5). Because of these terrible compromises, the nation was "greatly distressed" by these foreign people who were thorns in Israel's side - and they began to worship Baal and Ashtoreth as they forsook the LORD their God! (JUDGES 2:10-15).
And yet in the midst of God's chastening of His people, He bestows His mercy:
16 Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
Even so, the people wouldn't listen to the pleadings of these judges and continued to worship the false gods of the pagan nations!! Or, if they did take the judge's warnings to heart and return to the LORD, it was short lived - they returned to their idolatry when the judge died.
It eventually deteriorated so badly, that the Philistines ended up oppressing Israel and subjugating them under their rule, as is seen in JUDGES 13.
Now let's focus on this tragic hero that we have all heard so much about; this man who had a destiny and great purpose from God to defend and lead Israel, but rather he (as was stated before by another) "coulda, shoulda . . . but didn't".
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.
3 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
Here we see the distinction between a typical Nazarite vow (which as we read previously was only a temporary one) to that of Samson's - which was from his birth, with no indication of a termination date given by the angel of the LORD! It's an interesting fact that the name 'Samson' means "sun, sunlight, sun rise, brilliant" - in the dark spiritual night of rebellion and evil in Israel, this man was to be a brilliant sun rise, a dawn of a new day, to turn the people of Israel back to the LORD, and defeat her enemies.
The Spirit of the LORD moved Samson as he grew in the grace and blessing of God, between cities of his own people, however in JUDGES 14 we see that he goes down to "Timnath" which means "sacred territory of the sun" - a place of idolatry, where the sun was worshiped; idolatry is always a hindrance to what God would seek to do in our lives: the revelation of Himself Who alone is worthy of our worship. This is the very purpose of our enemy Satan, to restrain us from God's will and re-direct us into deceptions and destruction.
He goes to one of the daughters of the Philistines, and becomes "unequally yoked together with [an] unbeliever" (2 COR 6:14) and such a relationship plants the seeds of Samson's downfall. Any such fellowship, partnership, friendship with the unbelievers of this world brings us in enmity against God (JAMES 4:4).
As Christians, it may look innocent enough; it may even start out with the best of intentions to "share the Gospel" but if such a relationship brings baneful influences that deteriorate our own relationship with the LORD then such must be terminated.
IF Samson had not preferred fellowship with unbelievers over believers of his own nation, it would have prevented him from stumbling from a faithful walk. He valued his own pleasure over obedience to God out of a heart of love and pleasing the LORD - a condition that is growing today, even in the church (2 TIM 3:1-5)!
It was in Timnath that Samson committed his first violation of his Nazarite vow - for in Timnath, there were vineyards of grapes, and as a Nazarite he was forbidden to come in contact with these:
5 Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.
One might wonder why such a strict regulation would be imposed on Nazarites - but as the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" - by such a restriction, one could be sure to never be enticed to become drunk on wine. It would provide a mind set that would completely negate the very notion of such sin (EPH 5:18).
Note that a young lion comes to meet him there - Satan as a roaring lion will lure us into the arena of our carnal desires, and once we are vulnerable in this state, he will pounce, and ensnare us in sin! Had Samson not gone where he had no business being, he would have never encountered the lion. If we likewise as saints venture not where we ought not to be, we would more than likely not encounter the one who goes about as a roaring lion, seeking to devour (1 PET 5:8).
Where we go and what we do is very important in our walk with the LORD. If our conduct is inappropriate, our enemy will be there to attack, tempt and try to stumble us (1 JN 2:15-17)
Nevertheless, we witness the grace and forbearance of God upon Samson. . .
6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
Why did the LORD grant victory to Samson? Was his transgression 'ok' with God. We might think our sin is ok with God because He blesses us still and nothing bad happens. However, sin is NEVER ok with God (HEB 3:10-13).
Samson is a picture of a believer who abuses the grace of God, but God's grace still abounds to this Judge of Israel. In His goodness, He seeks to draw this man back to Himself (ROM 2:3-6). Note that Samson didn't tell his parents what he had done. Sin requires secret keeping, hiding in the dark, not coming into the light of God's presence by the Spirit. In so doing, our heart becomes hardened against the LORD.
7 And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.
8 And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.
In his association with unbelievers, he found his desires and view point to become like theirs; the man that God wanted to use for His purpose and glory, has found that his own purpose and glory took priority: "she pleased him well" and "he returned to take her" (contrast this with Moses behavior in HEB 11:24-25). . . and on the way, he found the carcase of the lion and too note that bees had built a hive in it, and there was honey to be had there!
9 And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion.
Now he has violated another aspect of the Nazarite vow: he touched a dead thing. Sin brings death, and yet we still touch it, and experience the 'sweetness' of sin - but it's candy coated poison that will, in time, bring ruinous death (ROM 6:23a). And all too often as we imbibe of the nectar of sin, any twinge of guilt is assuaged when we entice others to partake - and he brought the honey to his parents, but did not tell them where he got it from (again, with the secrecy!).
Had he never gone into the vineyard, he would never have encountered the lion, and it would not have died, allowing bees to built their hive and produce honey to entire Samson.
GAL 6:8 and GAL 5:16 speak of bearing fruit of the Spirit or of the flesh; the one to life and the other to death. The admonition is to those who are born of God's Spirit - that if we continue thus walking, and not pause to consider the flesh, we will not need concern ourselves with fulfilling deadly lusts and desires. One cannot walk both in the Spirit and the flesh at the same time any more than you can use your physical body to walk in two different directions at the same time.
JUDGES 14:10-15:8 tells about how Samson prepares a feast to celebrate his new life with his wife, the Philistine woman (vs.10-11). He plays a game of riddles with the Philistines (vs 12-14). The Philistines conspire with this woman, Samson's bride, to gain the answer to the riddle for them, and when they tell Samson the answer, he realizes that his wife snitched on him (vs.15-18). The Spirit of the LORD comes upon Samson, and he slays the Philistines who attended the party (vs.19). Why would the LORD do such a thing as this?
Samson was to be a Deliverer for his people Israel and destroy the pagans and their ways, who themselves were defiant of the LORD - regardless of the fact that the reason behind Samson's attack was a petty, self-interested motive, nevertheless God was still with him!
Samson's wife was given to another man by her father - apparently he didn't appreciate Samson's party and the subsequent slaughter of his countrymen (JUDGES 14:20 - 15:2). In turn, Samson seeks revenge upon the Philistines for taking his (pagan!) wife from him (vs.3-5). NOTE: He did this by his own efforts; the Spirit of the LORD had not come upon him for this deed.
As retribution for this, the Philistines burn Samson's wife - and her father! (vs.6). This escalates worse and worse: now Samson returns and slays thousands of Philistines (vs.7-8) and this causes Judah to capture Samson and deliver him personally to the pagans (vs.9-14). Yet the Spirit of the LORD comes upon this Judge and Nazarite, and with nothing more than a donkey's jaw bone slays them all, warriors armed no doubt with swords and spears (vs.14-17)!
To think this all started because of Samson's personal grievances and offense against the Philistines.
IF he was more concerned with God's call on his life, rather than with his personal interests, he would have been a prosperous deliverer for Israel, won great victories in the Name of the LORD - like Joshua did - and been blessed!
Yet God still bestows His grace - He answers Samson's prayer for water when he was parched and thirsty (vs. 18).
So we come to JUDGES 16 - a new chapter, and what do we find? New beginnings? A change of heart? No! Samson never seems to learn his lessons!
1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.
2 And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.
Sin shall await us; once enticed, and then paraking of sin - it will kill and steal and destroy, just as our enemy Satan does (JOHN 10:10). However, once again, God's grace is evident:
3 And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron.
In ancient days, enormous walls were built around cities to keep citizens safe from any attacks by their enemies. The gates likewise would have to be huge, solidly built and reinforced in order to prove resilient against those who would want to break them down to gain access to their would be victims.
These were the gates of the city, and Samson tore them away from the wall, placed them on his shoulders and walked up hill all the way to Hebron - that's a distance of more than 37 miles!!
There are some who think Samson may have been a man of normal proportions and not having a physique like a typical body builder sort - and that very well may be the case, because it wasn't his own strength, but the power of the Spirit of God that gave him such. But I tell you what, even if he did have a powerful physique, no one could credit ay body builder as having the ability to carry such a burden (weighing somewhere between 2 to 4 tons) such as those gates for so long a distance!
This would have to be by the power of God!
4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.
6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
The name Delilah can mean "to slacken, the be feelble, be oppressed, brought low, dried up, impoverished. The name of this valley, Sorek means "grape vine". Enough said.
This seducer is offered rich (13,000 pieces of silver!)reward if she will discover Samson's secret of strength. The enemy will offer all sorts of pleasures and attractions - read those as 'lures' - in order to hook you, reel you in, and you then find yourself being fried in the skillet!
Samson must have seen through this ruse, for no one would willingly offer an answer whereby they would find themselves bound and tortured. He plays with the situation like some sort of game. Unfortunately too often, people treat serious matters involving spiritual life and death like a game; they disparage the Gospel, they make light of the Word of God, they pretend that the truth is relative . . .
7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.
10 And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.
11 And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
Delilah is persistent and Samson once again offers false leads to his enslavement. He has witnessed the enemy barging in, and seeking to catch him - he knows now that this is all a not-so-elaborate plan to capture and slay him. Yet this Judge is confident that he is able to thwart every attempt, and still have his fun with Delilah.
What the Philistines didn't realize is that Samson's strenth was not in avoiding grapes, vineyards and wine; it was not in avoiding dead carcases; it was not even in the cutting of his hair - these wer emblems or symbols of faithfulness in keeping his Nazarite vow to the LORD.
The fact that one by one, he disregarded these emblems, showed that his heart was not in keeping them faithfully or his vow. The secret of his strength was the Holy Spirit:
6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
He broke his vow by walking through vineyards and by touching the carcase of the dead lion - - and now he is flirting with breaking the last part of his vow - not cutting his hair . . . note that while he realizes Delilah's intentional betrayal, he still stays with her: like a lamb to the slaughter so are foolish souls that play with the fires of sin, thinking that they "can handle it":
Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?
7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (read the entire chapter, it is most revealing!)
Again and again he tells Delilah lies; next time he tells her that his hair must be woven into seven locks and tied down - now he is flirting dangerously with the truth; that his vow of not letting his hair be cut is the final emblem of devotion of the Nazarite that has yet to be broken.
She is relentless - once she discovers that she was deceived once again, she persists and 'nags' Samson to the point where he thought he was going to die. She lived up to her name by bringing Samson low, oppressing him. And then he finally breaks and tells her that his hair had never been shaven off, and that if it is, his strength would be gone. There must have been something about his demeanor that she realized, this time he is telling the truth!
The world will do this as well by wearing you down until you find that your resistance to 'not go that far' is broken, and you find yourself doing shameful things, that you never thought you would do! All of this, because Samson preferred the company of the pagans over his own people. This is, in part, why it's so important that we as saints fellowship with one another, exhort one another -
12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Then it happens - Samson, while asleep has his hair cut off - the breaking of his Nazarite vow is complete.
18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand.
19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.
How utterly tragic that this man didn't even realize that the LORD had departed from him; that he thought himself invincible, no matter what. Samson was shaved, and then enslaved.
He had an eye for 'the ladies' but then his eyes were put out:
21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
He who was destined to be a Judge of Israel, a defender of his people, a victorious warrior against the enemies of the state - was indeed "brought low" and "oppressed" by Delilah - the representation of 'the world' with all of its seductions and passions, but inwardly is a rotting corpse of spiritual death (again, refer to PROV 7 in it's entirety). Now Samson is no better than a beast of burden, grinding grain. Caught and enslaved by the very people he sought to accompany in pleasure (ROM 6:16).
We who are born of God's Spirit are His children, and blessed, called of God as sons of the King, joint-heirs with Christ (ROM 8:17); priests of the LORD (1 PET 2:9) and pure of heart (MATT 5:8) - yet Satan delights in oppressing us, bringing us low and shaming us by degradation into sin, stealing our peace and joy. All the while our Abba Father looks on with a broken heart.
And yet, in the fulness of time, Samson's hair began to grow back (vs 22) . . .
JUDGES 16:23-26, 29-30
23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.
24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.
25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.
26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.
29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.
30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
In his last act, he called upon the LORD - this is the only time we read about Samson praying . . . and in this one deed, he was inducted into "the hall of faith" in HEB 11.
In contrast with Samson's character and conduct, we have someone like Josiah and even more so, the LORD Jesus Christ Himself, whose appetites were restrained and under His command (LUKE 4:1-14) and Whose obedience to God was supreme (JOHN 4:32-34); Whose service and ministry was undivided (LUKE 4:8).
Let us who are born and live of the Spirit of God, likewise walk in the Spirit (GAL 5:24-25) - following after our LORD Jesus, being wary of the Delilahs of this world and the entrapments of evil, set seductively by Satan our supreme enemy.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
JESUS DIED FOR US SO THAT WE MAY LIVE; LET US ALSO DIE TO SELF, SO THAT CHRIST MAY LIVE HIS LIFE THROUGH US, BRINGING GLORY TO GOD THE FATHER! Amen.