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Series: Thru the Bible
Message – Samson the Nagged
Thru the Bible: Judges 13-16
Birth of Samson
Judges 13:1-25, “(1) Again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.”
“(2) Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. (3) And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. (4) Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. (5) For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (6) So the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A Man of God came to me, and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome; but I did not ask Him where He was from, and He did not tell me His name. (7) And He said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now drink no wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’ ” (8) Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.” (9) And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God came to the woman again as she was sitting in the field; but Manoah her husband was not with her. (10) Then the woman ran in haste and told her husband, and said to him, “Look, the Man who came to me the other day has just now appeared to me!” (11) So Manoah arose and followed his wife. When he came to the Man, he said to Him, “Are You the Man who spoke to this woman?” And He said, “I am.” (12) Manoah said, “Now let Your words come to pass! What will be the boy’s rule of life, and his work?” (13) So the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. (14) She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe.” (15) Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, “Please let us detain You, and we will prepare a young goat for You.” (16) And the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Though you detain Me, I will not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the LORD.” (For Manoah did not know He was the Angel of the LORD.) (17) Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, “What is Your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honor You?” (18) And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?” (19) So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on— (20) it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar—the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. (21) When the Angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the LORD. (22) And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” (23) But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have told us such things as these at this time.” (24) So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. (25) And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.”
This is the first time in the book of Judges that we see a backdrop of the birth of a judge – revealing the planning and foreknowledge of God in the deliverance of His people. We’ve seen this before in Moses, who was both a deliverer AND judge in Israel, but this is the first one during the time of the judges.
Also this is the first example we have of a parent dedicating their child to the vow of the Nazarite from birth though we did see it in Jephthah in regard to his daughter who was already partly grown.
Also, we see that God hears and sometimes entertains our desires – jaded as they sometimes may be.
Finally, we see wisdom in an Israelite who uses her common sense to overcome her fear.
Now to answer a question you will undoubtedly have when we read the next section, let me offer you a few thoughts and clarifications of the Nazarite vow and Jephthah’s daughter in particular.
In Hebrew the term Nazirite is ‘Nazir’ (נְזִיר). The first use of this word is found in Genesis 49, where it records that in order to fulfill the greater purpose of God, Joseph was “separated” ‘Nazir’ (נְזִיר), from his family.
The rules of separation for a Nazarite did NOT require that they not marry, which is why in this next chapter we see Samson free to seek a wife – even though he was a Nazarite. The only reason Jephthah’s daughter would have had this additional restriction was because it was in place of a Burnt Offering – which requires ALL of you to be offered. Paul helps us here in our understanding in that he said that IF a person could control their sexual urges it was better for them not to marry.
1 Corinthians 7:32-35, “(32) But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. (33) But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. (34) There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband. (35) And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.”
So you can see that for Jephthah’s vow to truly be fulfilled in his daughter, it would require her to remain unmarried throughout the duration of her vow which was indefinite.
THAT is why she and her companions (and indeed all future women in Israel) took the time to mourn her virginity.
Judges 14:1-20, “(1) Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. (2) So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” (3) Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.” (4) But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD—that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. (5) So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. (6) And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. (7) Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. (8) After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. (9) He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion. (10) So his father went down to the woman. And Samson gave a feast there, for young men used to do so. (11) And it happened, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him. (12) Then Samson said to them, “Let me pose a riddle to you. If you can correctly solve and explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing. (13) But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing.” And they said to him, “Pose your riddle, that we may hear it.” (14) So he said to them: “Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet.” Now for three days they could not explain the riddle. (15) But it came to pass on the seventh day that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, that he may explain the riddle to us, or else we will burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us in order to take what is ours? Is that not so?” (16) Then Samson’s wife wept on him, and said, “You only hate me! You do not love me! You have posed a riddle to the sons of my people, but you have not explained it to me.” And he said to her, “Look, I have not explained it to my father or my mother; so should I explain it to you?” (17) Now she had wept on him the seven days while their feast lasted. And it happened on the seventh day that he told her, because she pressed him so much. Then she explained the riddle to the sons of her people. (18) So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down: “What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?” And he said to them: “If you had not plowed with my heifer, You would not have solved my riddle!” (19) Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house. (20) And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.”
So about the only things I can say about this chapter is that the purposes of the Lord may, at times, lead us to places and to do things which seem odd or arbitrary, but which serve His greater purposes! God both set up the scenario and let it play out in order to begin the process of delivering Israel from bondage.
Also, men and women have tremendous power over one another and that power is rooted in the design of God and His purposes in Creation. However, since the fall, things which were designed to be a blessing and an illustration of the Godhead in unity have become tools by which we seek to gain advantage over one another and to protect ourselves.
God gave headship to men. As such, strong, leadership oriented men command respect and a following, and it is natural for a woman to submit to that headship. It was intended to provide a covering for her and a sense of safety. Men MUST be careful however, to be compassionate and kind. His words can have the effect of defining her if she is not careful to draw her personal value and self-image from Christ.
Women were given the ability to arouse and seduce their husbands. This was intended by God to be flirtatious, encourage desire to pursue and for their mutual enjoyment. It is a matter of fact from more studies than can be counted that women enjoy being pursued and desired and men enjoy being enticed. This is the gift of God. But since the fall the desire of the woman has been to rule over the man. To provide her own sense of safety through manipulation and control. So they often use they gift of seduction as a tool for manipulation. This is witchcraft and God hates it. Also, nagging is another tool women used to gain control. In this case with Samson, it was not so much seduction that caused him to yield as much as being worn down by her constant badgering. God says it is better to live in the upper corners of a house than with a nagging and contentious woman and He compared a nagging woman with the continual dripping of water.
In the end – we as men and women need to be kind and compassionate with each other and ONLY use our powers of persuasion for each other’s benefit and NOT as tools of manipulation and control.
Samson Defeats the Philistines
Judges 15:1-20, “(1) After a while, in the time of wheat harvest, it happened that Samson visited his wife with a young goat. And he said, “Let me go in to my wife, into her room.” But her father would not permit him to go in. (2) Her father said, “I really thought that you thoroughly hated her; therefore I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister better than she? Please, take her instead.” (3) And Samson said to them, “This time I shall be blameless regarding the Philistines if I harm them!” (4) Then Samson went and caught three hundred foxes; and he took torches, turned the foxes tail to tail, and put a torch between each pair of tails. (5) When he had set the torches on fire, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines, and burned up both the shocks and the standing grain, as well as the vineyards and olive groves. (6) Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?” And they answered, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” So the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire. (7) Samson said to them, “Since you would do a thing like this, I will surely take revenge on you, and after that I will cease.” (8) So he attacked them hip and thigh with a great slaughter; then he went down and dwelt in the cleft of the rock of Etam.”
Most notable here is the total lack of the “Spirit of the Lord coming upon him”. This is NOT to say that Samson’s strength was not still supernatural, but that in the using of it, Samson served his own purposes instead of the Lord’s. This is something which is done quite often. God places abilities within people, which is to be distinguished from Spiritual Gifts, and people use them more times than not, for their own purposes and advantage rather than for the glory of God.
An example of this would be the ability to sing, or write poetry, or create works of art or in-born leadership qualities and such. These are gifts of God to be sure, but they function differently are and in a different category than spiritual gifts. One of the ways in which they differ is that spiritual gifts are ONLY given to those IN the body of Christ, whereas ALL humans possess some skills which are with them from birth.
Further confusion can occur in regard to this in that many times natural giftings and spiritual giftings may coincide and work together. A person may be predisposed to musical skill LONG before coming to Christ, and yet, after being born again, be given the gift of prophecy or encouragement which now works most proficient in and through their music.
“(9) Now the Philistines went up, encamped in Judah, and deployed themselves against Lehi. (10) And the men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?” So they answered, “We have come up to arrest Samson, to do to him as he has done to us.” (11) Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines rule over us? What is this you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so I have done to them.” (12) But they said to him, “We have come down to arrest you, that we may deliver you into the hand of the Philistines.” Then Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not kill me yourselves.” (13) So they spoke to him, saying, “No, but we will tie you securely and deliver you into their hand; but we will surely not kill you.” And they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock. (14) When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. (15) He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it. (16) Then Samson said: “With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey I have slain a thousand men!” (17) And so it was, when he had finished speaking, that he threw the jawbone from his hand, and called that place Ramath Lehi. (18) Then he became very thirsty; so he cried out to the LORD and said, “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant; and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?” (19) So God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore he called its name En Hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day. (20) And he judged Israel twenty years in the days of the Philistines.”
We’ve already run into this a number of times and will in the future as well, but the term “Ramath” often occurs before another word, like Ramath Lehi or Ramath Mizpah or Ramoth in Gilead. As you might suspect by the situation surrounding the renaming of the area, the word Lehi means Jawbone of a donkey.
En Hakkore = “Spring of one calling”. This is of tremendous import. Samson was made aware of his own frailty following such an amazing victory by having a thirst that nearly killed him (his spirit returned to him).
Now I’m not wild about what appears to be the tone in which he addresses God, but I believe something is lost in translation so that it appears more caustic than it actually was which I believe is supported by the face that God so abundantly responded to what was almost certainly a request or at very least a rhetorical statement of faith.
Now, concerning the humility that Samson needed to have and maintain…
We are aware of our own weaknesses and frailties, we quite naturally cry out to something or someone greater than ourselves. Here, Samson cried out to God to do for him what he was incapable of doing for himself. Here was a man who had killed 1,000 men with a jawbone – yet he couldn’t even provide a simple glass of water for his thirst! This was almost certainly an act of God.
You see, people at large are predisposed to pride and arrogance and Paul again comes to our aid in helping us evaluate ourselves in the light of truth, when he said, “What do you have that you did not receive?” and “by the grace of God I am what I am”.
All of God’s gifts are so magnanimous and generously given and we find ourselves living in a world where we are surrounded with the resplendent all our days. This unfortunately has a tenancy to blind us to the God Who is responsible for it.
We are surrounded in our everyday lives with abilities which seem “average” but only appear so due to the abilities of some which are truly spectacular. In really, all gifts given to mankind are extraordinary. So much so, that it takes gifts and abilities which are truly stupendous to shock our thinking.
In times like this it is not uncommon for even the world to employ biblical language such as “you have a gift” or “this person is truly gifted” or “God has really blessed you with something special”…etc. One place this is regularly seen is on shows like “American Idol” or “Britian’s got talent” or “The Voice” or “Penn & Telle’s: Fool us”.
Mankind, being made in the very image and likeness of God is astounding in potential from creation and so, if one is not living in the awareness of his own “creatureness”, we will often get inflated with pride in what we naturally see as our “own abilities”. It seems that Samson had some natural qualities in strength and agility, but which were immeasurably enhanced when the Holy Spirit came upon him. So this thirst which came over Samson, was probably quite natural on one level but was most likely GREATLY ENHANCED by God, to keep him aware of where his ability comes.
I like the words of commentator Matthew Poole on this event when he said, that Samson’s thrist was “partly sent by God, that by the experience of his own impotency he might be forced to ascribe the victory to God only, and not to himself.”
Samson and Delilah
Judges 16:1-22, “(1) Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her. (2) When the Gazites were told, “Samson has come here!” they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city. They were quiet all night, saying, “In the morning, when it is daylight, we will kill him.” (3) And Samson lay low till midnight; then he arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron. (4) Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. (5) And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.” (6) So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.” (7) And Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” (8) So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them. (9) Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known. (10) Then Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with.” (11) So he said to her, “If they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” (12) Therefore Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And men were lying in wait, staying in the room. But he broke them off his arms like a thread. (13) Delilah said to Samson, “Until now you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me what you may be bound with.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head into the web of the loom”— (14) So she wove it tightly with the batten of the loom, and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep, and pulled out the batten and the web from the loom. (15) Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.” (16) And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, (17) that he told her all his heart, and said to her, “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” (18) When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.” So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand. (19) Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. (20) And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him. (21) Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison. (22) However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven.”
The Death of Samson
Judges 16:23-31, “(23) Now the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice. And they said: “Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy!” (24) When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said: “Our god has delivered into our hands our enemy, The destroyer of our land, And the one who multiplied our dead.” (25) So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, “Call for Samson, that he may perform for us.” So they called for Samson from the prison, and he performed for them. And they stationed him between the pillars. (26) Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them.” (27) Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there—about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed. (28) Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” (29) And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. (30) Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life. (31) And his brothers and all his father’s household came down and took him, and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel twenty years.”
This is an interesting end for Samson and it teaches several lessons. Again we see Samson is defeated by nagging. It wasn’t her beauty they caused him to yield – it was her pestering. The only part her beauty played in this was that it kept him near her long enough to be worn down. Men and women both are stimulated by sight but without question the impulse is stronger in men. We are largely visually driven. It isn’t that other factors do not matter they just do not matter as much and it is part of our design. There is a reason why most warnings against lust are addressed to men in the Bible and why modest apparel is only urged upon women.
So while it might amaze women than a man would stick around with a Delilah, any man who has been truly infatuated with a woman can readily understand this story and can most likely identify with it on some level.
Another lesson is we can learn is that while Samson could hardly be chosen as the poster child example of the ideal Nazarite – strictly speaking he, these passages only show him veering from that path three times and both were all with women. The cutting of his hair broke his vow, but upon it’s regrowth God honored him once more with supernatural strength.
It is curious that we do not see any mention of Samson offering the prescribed sacrifices for breaking his vow. Perhaps this was because it was not possible for him. In any case – God heard his prayer – flawed as it was – and honored his request.
He is said to have judged Israel for 20 years. In all honesty I am uncertain how he did so. His story does not seem to be all that glorious or to have done too much in terms of deliverance OR judging.
In fact NOTHING is said about a final victory over the Philistines. Only that he killed 3,000+ people in his final act of strength. It is true that the Philistines are not mentioned again in the book of Judges so perhaps what God said Samson would do – he did and they were freed eventually sometime following his death. For before his birth God has said, “For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”
I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.
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