Samson, the Nazarite: A Brief Expository of Gods Strong Man
S amson lived in the land that God had given to the Israelites. But there were still other people who either inhabited the land or attacked the Israelites.
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God used men and one woman called Judges to lead and protect the people of Israel during this time before they had a king. One of these judges was Samson. Though we probably think of Samson as being a wicked man, God still used Samson to accomplish His purposes. God had planned a special life for Samson. The vow of a Nazarite was typically for a set period of time and was voluntary.
This special vow put restrictions on his life. This included the food that Samson was to eat, that he was not to cut his hair with a razor, nor to be near a dead body. In exchange for these limitations, God endowed Samson with exceptional strength. Sadly, Samson violated all these restrictions during his life which brought him to a tragic end. Samson met a woman from the Philistines.
These were the enemies of the people of God. He was able to kill the lion with his bare hands. Apparently this was the first time the great strength from God appeared in his life. The Bible says that he did not even tell his parents about this event. When Samson returned home from visiting the woman who was to become his wife, a swarm of bees inhabited the dead body of the lion.
This event of the death of the lion and subsequent inhabitation by bees became the basis for a riddle he later told. When preparing for the wedding feast a group of Philistine men, who apparently wanted to cause trouble, came to Samson.
Guide Samson, the Nazarite: A Brief Expository of Gods Strong Man
Samson proposed a challenge to them. He gave them a riddle that they had to answer within the week of the feast. If they answered correctly he would give sheets and clothing for each of the 30 men. Or, they would do the same for him if they could not figure out the riddle. The Philistine men were not able to answer the riddle on their own. She pleaded with Samson for the answer during the feast. Samson finally revealed the answer to her. And what is stronger than a lion? To obtain the clothing he needed to pay off the debt of the riddle, Samson went and slew 30 men from Ashkelon.
The father offered Samson a younger sister instead. Samson was not pleased with the idea of a substitute. As a punishment for taking away his wife Samson tied foxes together by their tails in pairs and lit a torch between them. The foxes ran through the corn fields of the Philistines destroying their crops. Samson singlehandedly went to war against the Philistines. We are not told how many people Samson slew at that first battle, but apparently an impressive number.
He then retreated to a mountain. The men of the Philistines came to take Samson by force. But the men of Israel did not want their country destroyed because of this war. They knew the Philistines were mightier than Israel. Therefore, 3, Israelites came to Samson to ask him to turn himself in. He allowed them to bind him with ropes and deliver him to the Philistines.
When he arrived in the camp of the Philistines, Samson broke the ropes and again fought the the men of the land. He killed 1, Philistines before the fight was over. But, he was dying of thirst.
God provided water for him from the jawbone. There were two causes—an inward and an outward; and, as always, the outward was subordinate to the inward and depended upon it. Yet it does not require the neglect or reversal of this principle to see that the life of Samson fell very far short of the moral possibilities of his day and race.
All the days of his separation he is holy unto the Lord. Without any disparagement to the character of Samson, one may fairly say that his keeping of the Nazirite vow had all along been marked by adherence that was letter-perfect rather than spiritually faithful. He had been temperate in the direction of his vow. Desire of wine and all delicious drinks, Which many a famous warrior overturns, He could repress; nor did the dancing ruby Sparkling, outpoured, the flavour or the smell, Or taste that cheers the hearts of gods and men, Allure him from the cool crystalline stream. But in that direction only.
In others he had been weak. The Nazirite vow, rightly understood, was a divinely-given basis for moral development, a prophecy through outer separateness of spiritual consecration. Nor could any man be said to have drunk of its spirit who rested in the details of ritual, and did not seek to penetrate to its essence—consecration to God. The consecration of the Scriptures is never a mere separating from something; it is also a separating to something, a shutting-up of a man to God.
It was here surely that the seeds of defection were sown—in the poor external conception of holiness belonging to the time, above which Samson, although one of the heroes of faith enumerated in the Epistle to the Hebrews, never rose. But at length that defection reached the outward life.
The thing that seemed within his power, that seemed most easy—to maintain the secret of his God-given strength—proved beyond him, and the strong man was ensnared by wiles that would not have caught a child. In itself it was a trifle—infinitely unimportant. But it was not a trifle in the light of its associations. Samson knew that it was no trifle: he had no mind to betray to Delilah what he knew to be the secret of his strength.
Behind the commonest acts in life, it often happens, there cluster infinite issues; a whole moral world may be at stake: heaven or hell may await us behind a deed done, a word spoken, a consent or a refusal,—and these petty acts at once become momentous; their importance is measured by their results. What could matter less in itself than whether a man was or was not circumcised?
And what was the result? His yielding meant an immediate loss of power. Could it matter, one might think, whether the head of the Hebrew judge were adorned with locks that hung to his broad shoulders, or were closely shorn?
His strength surely lay in his mighty sinew and muscle. But this is just the naturalistic reasoning that misses the Divine element of the Hebrew history. The detail is nothing, the principle is everything. It is the incidental expression of eternal reality; the small link that preserves, or, severed, breaks the chain of obedience that keeps man in communion with God. Keep it intact, and there is for every emergency the unceasing inflow of the Divine power; break it, disregard the small, apparently insignificant point which God in your inner life has made the condition of His being with you, and the power flies.
It flies insensibly as the perishing of the perfume from a dead flower, to be succeeded in time by the odour of corruption. So it flew quietly, swiftly from Samson. His enemies were without. They flew upon him, and he, confident with the confidence of fifty past victories, bent his mighty limbs for the fray.
Samson Bible Story Summary and Study
But the power was gone. Ramath-Lehi was not to be repeated then.
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The strength that had made one man a terror to a band had gone. Flaccid and powerless, he sank a pitiable prey to the ground. The chosen race go into the wilderness a mere band of fugitive slaves; they become a great nation because God is with them. They go out to battle against mighty enemies, and a little one puts to flight a thousand, because God marches with the host; they go to battle without God and the process is reversed—they go out one way and flee seven ways.
A Study of Samson: Faith and Folly
Prophets like Elijah defy kings like Ahab; men untrained to arms like Gideon put trained armies to flight; Elisha, lonely and forgotten, counts those who be with him more than those who be with his foes, because he sees the chariots and horsemen of God moving in the clouds; David, the shepherd boy, is stronger than Goliath; Daniel, in his purity and piety, is more than a match for the tyrannous king who holds him in his power; and the simple explanation of every such triumph is that God is with these heroes of faith and action.
We may say, if we will, that the heroism of those men was but the reflex action of their faith; it does not alter the facts. Something made them great, some power moving in and through them, which begot faith, and courage and high ideals, and noblest heroism. He was with them of their own consent, working through their own obedience and consecration. They were His vehicles, His instruments, the media of Divine manifestations.
And if they had withdrawn from God, or if God had withdrawn from them, then had they been as other men; they would have awakened as Samson did, to know their strength departed and the fountains of their virtue dry.
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Thou liest an ocean round my world of care, My petty every-day; and fresh and fair Pour Thy strong tides through all my crevices, Until the silence ripples into prayer. That Thy full glory may abound, increase, And so Thy likeness shall be formed in me, I pray; the answer is not rest or peace, But charges, duties, wants, anxieties, Till there seems room for everything but Thee, And never time for anything but these. And I should fear, but lo!