“Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years. In those days a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.” – Judges 13:1-5.
Most people know the basic story of Samson and Delilah from Judges 13-16. We all know that eventually long-haired Samson tells her the secret to his strength and she hands him over the Philistines, who eventually take him captive by plucking his eyes out and enslaving him. Then God grants him a final request and he takes out all 3000 men and women in the coliseum and he dies with them.
The common assumption is that Samson was destined for greatness no matter what he did—but faltered before he could reach his potential because of Delilah. Samson’s story begins in Judges 13:1-5 (above) There are some rules of engagement when someone is either born or becomes a Nazirite. In addition to never cutting his hair, these rules include abstaining from alcohol, and never touching a dead body. Samson was a man that was used by God and at times acted solely on his desires; in other words, what he wanted, is what he wanted.
Samson wanted to marry a woman that didn’t worship the one true God. (Judges 14:1-4) This gives us an initial view into Samson’s selfish and lustful nature. Next Samson touched the dead body of a lion. (Judges 14: 5-6; 8-9) Samson officially broke the Nazarite vow that says not to go near a dead body. What makes this situation worse is that he gave some honey from the dead lion’s belly to his parents. In short, he got his parents caught up in the transgression as well. Then he seemed to make light of this when making a riddle to the Philistines (v12-14).
Samson liked to have relationships with women who he wasn’t married to, and women that he wasn’t supposed to be in relationships with. In fact, Samson committed multiple sins. That’s to be expected since all fall short of the glory of God. The glaring issue here is he committed sins and didn’t repent. In short, he used his life to pursue what he wanted, despite God’s instructions.
In retrospect, his story is very familiar. It reminds me of the lives of us men, who with the best intentions, set our sights on being used by God, only to set it aside to pursue our own agenda. We don’t go in planning to compromise, but we find it expedient to do so. We can wander into areas we shouldn’t be in and we lose sight of God in the temporary pleasures that we enjoy, not realizing that our pleasures can easily become addictions. Samson was no different and his story paints a dark reality of what happens when our will is weak and we don’t have self-control.
- Did your perception of Samson change this week? If so, how?
- What can we learn from the life of Samson?
- Why do you think Samson would eat honey out of the carcass of a lion?
- Why didn’t Sampson realize what Delilah was up to? Why don’t we sense danger when it is lurking?