The Story of Samson

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The ministry of God’s Judgement through Samson (1085-1065 B.C.) is found in the seventh book of the Old Testament.  It is in chapters 13-16 of the book of Judges where we find the story of the last judge of Israel mentioned.  The story of Samson is also the longest narrative of a judge in this epic volume.  It takes place in a time where God had delivered Israel into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years prior to his appointment of Samson to “begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13.5).  The completion of the Deliverance would not be until the reign of King David (2 Samuel 5:17-22). It is like the beginning of our deliverance from death in Jesus Christ.  Jesus began his redemptive work on the cross, but it will not be completed until the final chapters of Revelation when the wrath of God has been poured out, Israel is delivered and after the final judgement, where death and the hell are cast into the Lake of Fire.

This is an interesting position in history to consider for a moment because Samson is from the Israeli tribe of Dan.  When God originally led Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, God told them to go and conquer the people of the land and take possession.  The tribe of Dan failed to do this in the lands that they were given.  In fact, the land that they were originally given was in possession of the Philistines.  If they would have been in obedience to God, then the oppression and long wars with the Philistines would have been avoided. (Tribe of Dan Facts, History & Descendants | What Happened to the Tribe of Dan?, n.d.)

Samson is the 14th in a long line of Judges covered in the book so named.  In the 13th chapter we see that the birth of Samson was announced to his parents, prior to his being conceived, and that Samson was set aside by the Lord for a specific purpose. The purpose was to be a deliverer for Israel. Because of this, his mother was not to pollute her body with “wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing” (Judges 13:4).  This would show the importance of how an expectant mother should be careful of what she exposes her yet born baby to while she is pregnant. Anyway, Samson himself was to be a Nazarite his whole life.  The Law of the Nazarite is a very serious and particularly holy law of separation of oneself to the Lord. It is detailed in the book of Numbers 6:1-21 and involves special sacrifices and ceremonies.  In addition, it has a strict code of sanctification that involves abstaining from drinking anything made from the vine, cutting of the hair, and not touching anything that is dead.  You cannot even be in the presence of a dead body, even it by accident.  As we read the story of Samson, we see that he violated every condition of the Nazarite vow.  We see that even though you have strength, it is nothing without fellowship with God, and that God resist the prideful.

While Samson was set to be the example of a righteous deliverer, he failed to live up to the expectations.  Samson breaks vows, marries outside of his people, visits harlots, drinks to drunkenness, engages in vengeance, and is prideful, arrogant, and self-centered.  Yet we also see that God’s will is not thwarted concerning his mission for Samson.  The story of Samson in the bible jumps from his birth to his adulthood.  We find then that he is asking his father to arrange his wedding to a Philistine woman.  Despite the objections of his parents, he persists until his father makes the arrangements.  On the way to the wedding Samson is found to be in a vineyard. There Samson is attacked by a lion and he kills the lion with his bear hands (Judges 14:5-6).  Later as Samson is in route to claim his bride, he sees the carcass of the lion and in it is a honeycomb that bees have built.  Samson takes some of the honey and tastes that it is sweet and then brings some to his mother and father.  Samson does not tell them about the lion, nor about where he got this honey.  Remember the conditions of the Nazarite, he cannot be in the presence of the dead, much less touch a dead animal, especially eat from the cavity of one.  Samson has made himself unclean, and worse he has made his mother and father unclean without telling them.  See how fast our secret sins can affect those we love? 

Samson it seems has desired this wedding to have an opportunity to come up against the Philistines. Now for those who are unaware this is the third mention of Samson being around wine.  First was in the vineyard with the lion, then he passed back through the vineyard, and now at the wedding feast.  Now it does not say that he was doing any drinking, however he at the least is demonstrating a dangerous pattern of exposing himself to the availability to drink.  This pattern would continue and eventual assist in the painful downfall of Sampson. The availability and expectancy to drink is especially assumed at the wedding feast.  These were weeklong feasts where alcohol was consumed liberally.  Remember how Jacob was deceived into consummating a wedding to the wrong girl because he drank to much at his wedding feast (Genesis 29).  It would seem likely that Samson would have drunk wine at such a festive occasion so far from home.  Especially because Samson sought an occasion to start an incident with the Philistines.

However, instead of consulting God, Samson has come up with his own plan on how to start a fight with the Philistines through this marriage. In the process of marrying this Philistine woman, Samson has disregarded the wishes of his father.  Still, he has decided to make a wager with the guests at this wedding party to solve a riddle that they would not be able to solve.  He has decided to use this event with the lion and the honey as the answer to the riddle. “out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness” (Judges 14:14). He knew that they could not possibly know the answer to the riddle, as the lion. He also knew that they would not be willing to pay the debt of the bet. Then when they refused to pay up to their end of the bet, he would have cause against them. 

But the Philistines have told his bride to find the secret to the riddle or they will burn down her father’s house with them in it.  Instead of confiding in Samson, she tricks him into the answer to the riddle and tells the Philistines.  They tell Samson the answer and then Samson must live up to his end of the bet.  His end was to deliver 30 sheets and 30 changes of garments (Judges 14:12).  Samson was angered at the double-cross.  Once again Samson does not consult God. To live up to his debt, Samson goes to another Philistine camp and murders them and takes their belongings and give it to his wedding party and then leaves without taking his bride.  Later Samson cools of and returns to collect his bride, but the father has given her to another man. 

Samson again, fails to consult God. Instead, Samson, in anger, traps 300 foxes and ties firebrands to their tails and sets them free upon the Philistines fields.  The foxes burn up their fields, vineyards, and olive groves (Judges 15:4-5).  This infuriates the Philistines.  The philistines then burn to death Samson’s bride, and her father. Samson avenges himself against the Philistines, without consulting God, by murdering them (Judges 15:7-8).  This leads to the Philistines coming against the Israelites and demanding that they turn over Samson or deal with the consequences.  After some convincing from his brethren, Samson nobly agrees to be bound and handed over to the Philistines in order to protect his people. 

Once in the Philistine encampment the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson, and he breaks his bonds and picks up the jawbone of an ass and slain a thousand Philistines (Judges 15:14-19).  This was a good turning point for Samson.  He has waited upon the Lord and the Lord delivered him out of the hands of his enemies.  Samson judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years (Judges 15:20).  But this is not the end of the story on Samson.

Samson falls for another woman who would be his undoing.  The scripture does not say if she is a Philistine, but she is clearly in cohorts with them.  She is offered a large sum of money by the Philistines to gather the secret behind his strength and to report it to them, so they can take him.  Samson’s playing with her is very similar to us when we play with sin.  Samson was with a woman who he should not have been with and played with her on the things that God had given him and what God had forbidden.  That is his exceptional strength was dependent on his obedience to God with his Nazarite vow.  As we have seen Samson violated the first part his commitment (Judges 14:8-9,19; 15:8,15), likely ignored the second, and now he would end up betraying himself into the violation of the final responsibility (16:13-17).  Samson would toy with this gift of God and it would cost him his freedom, and his health, and his relationship with God.  Scripture tells us the Samson “knew not that the LORD had departed from him.” (Judges 16:20).  Samson had crossed the line in his sin and God abandoned him to his sin. (1 Samuel 15:23; 16:14; Romans 1:26; Hebrews 10:26). The result of Samsons life of sin had slowly led him into more and more bondage, until he had become a slave to those who he was sent to conquer.  He had been deceived, weakened, bound, and blinded by his sin both physically and spiritually.  How many Christians today live in poor health, weekend, and blinded physically and spiritually by their disobedience and lack of sanctification? 

Still Samson is seen as an example of faith in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 11:32).  So then, Samson was redeemed despite his life of prideful disregard for the will of God and the Vow and Calling he had received.  Samson in seeing the error of his ways and the life he waisted had repented and turned to God in faith.  Samson prayed to God for the will of God to be done in him, even though he knew it would cost him his life. Here is yet another parallel we can see in our savior who prayed in the garden for the will of the Father to be done, even though he knew that he would have to die to complete it. God granted Samson his strength one last time and Samson destroyed the Philistine’s temple to Dagon and killed thousands of Philistines in sacrificing himself for Israel.  Samson died a hero, but more importantly he died in faithful obedience to God.

We learn many things from Samson.  We see that sanctification protects us from our own evil desires. We can see that toying with sin leads to sickness, blindness, away from fellowship with God, and eventually death.  Sin always leads to death in the end.  Here is what James writes to us, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:15).  If we would only listen to the words of wisdom in the epistle of James, and the example of Samson.

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We also see that God will leave us to our sin if we continuously reject him. (Isaiah 59:12) We see that God expects us to honor our vows before him.  We also see that God gives us strengths and abilities that should be used to glorify him, but often we use them to glorify ourselves.  We see that having a great gift from God does not make us godly.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:1 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”  It does not matter what our gift is, if we abuse it in self glorification then we have waisted the gift God gave us. Like Samson, his great gift of strength meant nothing until he matched it with obedience in faith in God. God was the deliverer of Israel; Samson was the servant of God in the end.

This gives us hope in Christ.  We who have accepted Christ and yet have squandered the gift of life that he has given us and disobeyed his commandments to be sanctified, sin no more. Perform our duties of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ; We who have failed to teach and Baptist in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is this, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).  His purposes will be fulfilled, and we can partake if we just humble ourselves and submit to his will.

Jacob and Redemption in Christ (Genesis 35:10)

“And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.” (Genesis 35:10)

The name Jacob means “seizing by the heel”. Jacob was named this because when Jacob and Esau were born, they were born as twins. Even in the womb they struggled against one another. Esau came out first which meant that he was the eldest and that he would have the inheritance of his Father. Blessings would have been bestowed on him, as the first born, that far exceeded the blessings received by his younger brother Jacob. Jacob was born holding onto the heel of Esau, as if trying to stop him from being born first. Now this is probably just a little of my mind running into fantasy, to imagine that an infant would know of such things as inheritances and birthrights from the womb. However, the fact that these two fought with one another in the womb is documented in the scriptures.

There is another meaning to the name Jacob, supplanting. Supplanting is defined as to replace, displace, supersede, or to take the place of another, as through force or scheming. We would consider this deception. So much so that Jacob’s name has become to be called “deceiver”. Jacob had most definitely lived up to his name. In his younger life Jacob tricked his older brother, Esau, into selling his birthright to Jacob for a pot of chili. He took advantage of his brother in his weakened state and took away his future as the air to Isaac and the promises of God inherited from Abraham. Later Jacob would deceive Isaac into bestowing the greater blessings of God onto him instead of his older brother. He did this through an elaborate scheme that involved many levels of deception and lying.

Yet the inheritance had been passed on and so had the blessings been given to Jacob because of his scheming and deceptions. God is honorable and faithful, so he keeps his word to Abraham, and Isaac in honoring their designation of Jacob as the heir and patriarch of the family. These events were not a surprise to God. He even predicted that these events would transpire. When Rebecca, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother, was feeling the struggling in her womb, before their birth, she asked God why this was happening. God’s reply is recorded in Genesis 25:23, “And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger”. Thus God gave Rebecca a prophecy concerning not only her sons, but the nations that would descend from each of them. Still we look at Jacob and we say to ourselves, “what a despicable man he was”.

What kind of selfish, arrogant man would lie, steal, and cheat their own family brother out of what was rightfully his? Who would be so selfish to tear his family apart for his own desires? What kind a callous heart it must take to deceive the father that had protected and cared for you your whole life. What a shameful display of arrogance to take advantage of the blind, and elderly. Only a dishonorable, opportunistic man takes advantage of the hungry and feeds them with such devastating deception? We can point the finger all day long at Jacob; can we not? Still we must be honest enough to see a little of Jacob in us as well.

Have some of us not deceived others for our own gain? Have some of us not told a little lie to ease the harshness of the truth in our selfishness? Mother’s hide snacks from the children. Children seem to never know “who broke the lamp or got into the cookie jar”. Husbands and wives lying to one another about where they have been, what they were doing, who they were doing it with. Shaving a little time here and there at work, stealing from their employers. Maybe false reporting on earned income for taxes, or other things of like these. There are countless ways that we put our own selfish desires ahead of others and lie and deceive others to get ahead. We deceive others by omitting information, denying the truth, exaggerating information, and even fabricating information.

There is even a definition for using “true” statements to give a false or distorted view of the truth in order to influence the impressions of other and mislead their decision making. This is referred to as paltering. If you have ever watched syndicated news or a politician, you have probably been a victim of such a ploy. My dad used to always tell me that if someone asked you a question, always tell them the truth, but; don’t tell them any more than they asked for. That is sound advice from someone who is trying to tell themselves that they are an honest man, who does not want someone getting the wrong impression from knowing the whole of the truth.

Let me further illustrate. One night, when I was a teen, I borrowed my step-mom’s car. I ended up getting in an accident and I totaled the car. When my dad asked why I was driving, I told him I just wanted to go see a friend. That was the truthful answer to his question. What I didn’t include was that I was going to see a friend that my dad had told me to stay away from. You see I did not tell him that I was in disobedience of his wishes. This lie saved me from a severe punishment. I am sure you can find in you past some kind of half-truth you have told to get away with something or to avoid chastisement.

We are not so far from the shameful actions of Jacob, are we? You see we are a namesake to our father. We lie because that is what we know how to do. Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a lair, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)

Jacob lied because he was carnal. He was of the kingdom of Satan. One of the Hebrew names for the devil is cheater. This also carries the following synonyms: deceitful, deceiver, fraudulent, swindler. See when we act in these manners, we are also acting like Jacob. Jacob was acting out his sinful nature, given to him at the beginning by the fall of man, by the deception of Satan. We also are a product of this sinful state. We do not know what it means to truly be “good”. We could care less about trying to be good. Like Jacob, we are also of our father the devil, there is no truth in us. The good news is that God already knew this about Jacob, and he already knows this about us. God already had a plan for Jacob that started before he was in the womb.

God told Jacob, “thy name shall not be called any more Jacob”. God removed Jacob’s identity. He removed the shame associated with the name of Jacob. Jacob, had left his home for 20 years, running from the things he had done in his past. Now God was giving him a second chance at life. A life that would be far greater than the one he had left behind. God not only took his old name away; he gave him a new name. This name would be a greater name then the one he previously had. He was given a clean slate and a new promise and a new way of life. A life that would bring the promises of God to bear in his life, the life of his descendants, and the lives of everyone in the world. God would fulfill his promises to Abraham. This is such a great picture of what Christ has done for those who believe on him.

Revelation 2:17 tells us a promise made by God. He says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” Isn’t that awesome, we have a new name in Christ. We have a new identity that is given to us by God himself. This name is holy to the Lord. Only you and the Lord will know your new name. Your slate has been wiped clean. You have a new identity. You are no longer the shameful creature held in bondage by sin and death. Instead you will be alive like never before. You will eat of the blessings of God and be called by a new name, a redeemed soul!

The Apostle Paul also tells us about this when he writes to the Corinthians. Paul tells us that anyone who believes and follows Jesus Christ is a new creature. He uses the verb “is”, it has already happened. The old person we used to be and all the things we did in the past are gone. Everything about us has become new in Christ. Paul tells us that this process if part of our reconciliation to God. This is only possible through the blood of Jesus Christ, who was made sin for us. Jesus was the righteousness of God. He was guilty of no sin. However, he accepted the blame and penalty for our sin. In this way, our sin was transferred to him, and his righteousness was accounted towards us. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) Now, John says, not only are we forgiven, but we have a new heavenly Father. (1 John 3:1)

Now with this new identity, and this new Father, we can be like him instead of our previous father. We no longer must submit to the will of the flesh and Satan. We are set free from that previous live and now obey our spiritual Father in Heaven. Just as Jacob no longer had to live under the shame of his previous life, but instead could live a victoriously and blessed in his new life, we can also live a blessed and victorious life in Jesus Christ. We have been redeemed, not because of what we did or even our own will. We have been redeemed because of what God did of his own will, because he loved us even when we were his enemy. But now, we who live in faith in Jesus Christ are no longer his enemies.

We are his son’s and daughters. We are his ambassadors. We are the witness of his love and his grace. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came and took the blame for your sin, and died in your place. Knowing in your heart that his death paid the price for your sin, and you believe that he was resurrected on the third day, then you have eternal life. Now that your eternal salvation is secure in Christ, you need to testify to that end. You need to take your first step in obedience and be baptized by emersion. Baptism is not necessary for salvation, but it is necessary in your testimony. Baptism is recognized throughout the world as a mark of believing in Jesus Christ.