I am betting the first thing that ran through your head when you saw we were reading about Samson was either the movie about “Samson and Delilah” or possibly an old song with words something like: “Romeo and Juliet, Samson and Delilah, baby you can bet that love can’t deny….when we kiss….FIRE!!” Am I right??? Well….as we will see Samson creates a little fire of his own because of his lust for women rather than his devotion to the Lord. We will learn a lot from Samson’s story… not just the fact that he did the wrong things… but that GOD still USED HIM for the purpose he originally called him for. NEVER forget that OUR God can use it all … the weak.. the sinners… the “do-overs,” the things that don’t make sense… you and me….to do HIS will.
Chapter 13—I am SURE you saw it as you read the first line of this chapter! “AGAIN the Israelites did EVIL in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for FORTY YEARS!!!”
Go back for just a moment to Exodus 13:17-18 – “When Pharaoh let the people go, God DID NOT LEAD THEM ON THE ROAD THROUGH THE PHILISTINE COUNTRY, though that was shorter. For God said, “IF THEY FACE WAR, THEY MIGHT CHANGE THEIR MINDS AND RETURN TO EGYPT. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea….”
Is that NOT amazing!!??? Exodus 13 happened at least 800 years prior, if not longer, at the time of the Judges!! GOD KNEW the Philistines were strong warriors back in Exodus. Can you imagine how great their strength had grown since Exodus???
The next thing I want to recap for you is the Nazirite Vow. For more details you can look at Numbers 6. However the basics of it were that:
- The person(s) must ABSTAIN from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or other fermented drink. They must ABSTAIN from grape juice, grapes, and raisins as well … NOTHING from the vineyard… no seeds or skins or grape leaves!!
- NO RAZOR could be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long.
- They must not go near a DEAD BODY – animal or human – parent or friend — not GO near a dead body much less touch one because this would make them ceremonially unclean.
So here the Israelites were in captivity (AGAIN.. because of their OWN choices which were in direct opposition to what God required).
Manoah means “rest”, of the Tribe of Dan meaning “judge”. The angel (the theophanic angel) of the Lord (Jehovah = “the existing ONE, the ONE TRUE GOD”) appeared before Manoah’s wife who was barren and tells her she will have a son. Interesting in verse 4, that the angel of the Lord requires part of the Nazirite Vow from her (no drinking wine or other fermented drink and no eating of anything unclean.) The angel tells her that her son is to be a Nazirite, dedicated in the womb, and they are to NEVER cut his hair. Samson was BORN a Nazirite, meaning separated or set aside FOR GOD.
Samson is one of the few in Scripture whose birth was DIVINELY preannounced to his parents (13:3). He shared this honor with Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus.
I LOVE Manoah’s wife’s description of the angel of the LORD… “very awesome”…. Just think how we will describe Jesus when we see HIM face to face…. IF we will even be able to use our words because it will be sooooooooo VERY beyond AWESOME!!
I LOVE the way Manoah prayed to the Lord for direction as to HOW to raise Samson. Obviously, the message had not been passed down from generation to generation …. So he humbled himself to ask “how do we do this?”
Manoah wanted to prepare a goat for the angel. However the angel tells them he will not eat any of their food but guides them to make a burnt offering to the Lord. If you look back at Numbers 6, you will see that making a sacrifice of a burnt offering to the Lord was part of consecrating the vow!!! Next Manoah asked the angel HIS name and his response was most interesting; “you will not understand it.” Isn’t that still so true today … there are things God knows but He cannot share because He knows we will not understand them.
I also found it interesting that the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman twice and she had to go get her husband the second time. It is also interesting that we are not told the wife’s name.
When Manoah REALIZED they were speaking to the angel of God he thinks they are going to die. However, the wife calms him by saying something to the effect of….if the Lord wanted to kill us HE would not have accepted our burnt offering and grain offering or shown us about our son!!
She gives birth to a boy and they name him Samson which means “like the sun.” Did you notice that the Spirit of the Lord began to stir in him before chapter 13 ended?
Chapter 14 – Samson, Samson, Samson!!!! ….. He sees a PHILISTINE woman (the VERY people God has sent him to BEGIN to overcome) and WANTS TO MARRY HER!!! (OK… NOT GOOD… REMEMBER GOD HAS TOLD HIS PEOPLE OVER AND OVER DO NOT INTERMARRY WITH OTHERS WHO DO NOT BELIEVE I AM JEHOVAH.)
How many of you who are parents have been down this road with your child? “Now son (or daughter)… isn’t there SOME thing else we can do … look at all there is for you rather than what you have your eyes on…what about….??? Well.. Samson’s parents are THERE in this same moment you have probably had with your child(ren). However it did NO good.
In verse 5, did you notice that Samson is taking them through the VINEYARDS??? Vineyards, wine, grapes, raisins…. Nazirite vow…don’t eat it or drink it!! Yet he CHOOSES to walk right into an area of temptation!!
THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD came upon Samson to give him the strength to kill the lion… not just kill it… but tore it apart with his bare hands!! I’d call that a strong man!! BUT HE DID NOT TELL HIS PARENTS WHAT HE HAD DONE.
Time passes and he returns to marry the PHILISTINE whom he lusted… I mean loved. On his way there he noticed a swarm of bees and some honey IN THE CARCASS of the lion he had killed before. WHAT DOES HE DO????? OH YEA… HE REACHED IN AND GOT HIM SOME HONEY… from inside the body of the DEAD lion. (REMEMBER he was NOT supposed to TOUCH a dead body.. human or animal as part of the Nazirite vow?) NOT ONLY does he eat the honey BUT HE takes some to his parents and they ATE IT TOO!!! HE DID NOT TELL THEM WHERE THE HONEY CAME FROM, so he KNEW he did wrong!!! It wasn’t that his parents didn’t train him to do the right things .. I mean they even asked the angel of the Lord to show them how to raise Samson!! Samson lived around the Philistines and was greatly influenced by their lifestyles I am sure. He wanted the things they had. I know I have said this several times in our reading so far…but we must be so very careful about WHOM we spend our time with…what we watch on TV…what we read. It is so important to be devoted to spending time with God and His people (no people are perfect…but God’s people TRY to live God’s way.)
Verse 10 – His father went to see Samson’s wife to be and Samson held a feast. This particular kind of feast which was customary in those days had…… you guessed it…..beverages from the vineyard!!
And now Samson wants to play games… answer the riddle!!! Well…. you saw how the rest of the story went … wife used her tears to get Samson to tell her the answer to the riddle so her family would not die. YEP.. her sweet lips used him.. and it won’t be the last time we see this happen to Samson. Samson lost the bet. BUT…. Once again we see “THEN THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME POWERFULLY UPON HIM…” He killed a few Philistines and returned to his father’s home.
Chapter 15 – Now we read that Samson’s father is the one who gave his wife away. I’m sure that went over well….so well that Samson set fire to all their crops, vineyards, and olive groves. And of course the Philistines want retaliation. Retaliation is NEVER good!! To prevent further battles between Judah and the Philistines (or more harsh punishment), Judah (3000 MEN) went to capture ONE Samson from the cave he ran into. As they take him to the Philistines, “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAME POWERFULLY UPON SAMSON” once again. Samson found a jawbone from a dead donkey (ANOTHER Nazirite vow broken.. again he touched something dead) and killed 1000 Philistines. NOT ONLY did he touch something from a dead animal BUT… in verse 16 .. SAMSON TAKES CREDIT FOR KILLING THE MEN!!! (UMMMMMMM… NOT A GOOD THING!!)
The Spirit of the Lord has come upon Samson several times in our readings today. And EACH time this happened was when Samson was able to do the things which required GREAT STRENGTH!! It was not Samson with the strength… but GOD giving it to him!!
After the battle, Samson CRIED OUT to God because he was thirsty. He says: “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised??” And, God in HIS mercy … gave him water to drink.
The Lord revives him with water from En Hakkore (Caller’s Spring), look at the reference to Isaiah.
Do you not know? He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isa 40:29-31)
Samson truly made one bad decision after the other in the site of God. Yet we are told he led Israel for 20 years. EVEN with all of Samson’s poor decisions for wrong reasons, we see a most gracious God. If you check back at 13:5, the Bible tells us that Samson will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines. He surly wouldn’t be able to complete it. But God is Sovereign and He raised up Samson for His plan and purpose. He chose him for a reason. He knew his weaknesses.
God KNOWS our weaknesses and HE still CHOOSES US… EACH of us!! He has something special we are each to be doing for HIM. And even if we don’t do it the way He hopes we will by following HIM completely … HE will still use us and love us and save us and rescue us and give us water to drink. 🙂 That is JUST who HE is!!!
If you have time… read Psalms 23… LOOK at all the LORD promises to do for us…knowing our weaknesses!! 🙂
Sharing HIS love,