Profile in Character: Samson Judges 13-16

October 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Biblical Background: The author of the book of Judges is unknown. The events in Judges follow Joshua and Israel’s conquest of Canaan, around 1400 B.C., until Saul was anointed king of Israel in approximately 1050 B.C. (Archeological Study Bible p. 344)

Samson was a man appointed from birth to be a judge of Israel.  An angel of the Lord, considered to be a pre-incarnate Jesus, came to Samson’s parents to tell them they would conceive a son and to give them special instructions about Samson’s upbringing (Judges 13).  Samson was to be a Nazarite.  Numbers 6:1-8 outlines that durring observance of this vow a person must eat no thing from the grapevine, drink no wine, is not to cut his hair, and  must not go near a dead body.  When we come to a salvation experience with Jesus, the vow of a Christian is a lifelong vow which can be contrasted with Samson’s lifelong Nazarite vow in that it is a permanant commitment between God and man.

How Samson raised the risk and how we can too:

When you picture Samson in your mind, what do you see?  A dashing young man of great strength, long black hair, and a body builder physic, right?  Well, the Bible never gives us a physical description of Samson other than the fact that his hair is long.  We really have no Biblical backing to assume that Samson looked like a body builder because his strength was given by the Holy Spirit.  Granted, it would make most sense that he at least had a strong build even without Popeye size biceps!  Conversely, Samson’s long hair was a symbol of  weakness and submission. The Nazarite’s long hair conveyed a person’s submission to God and to God’s ruling authority. It recognized weakness but also God’s strength.  This is communicated in 1 Corinthians 11:14-16:

14Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

Looking past Samson’s outward appearance, we don’t have to go very far to see the character flaws and sins of the flesh that Samson possessed.  I dare not say sins Samson battled, for in the Biblical narrative of Samson it seems he is always giving into the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes without ever trying to do otherwise.  If a pretty woman signaled trouble to Samson then it seems he was always looking for trouble. Trouble, as we know, is easy to find.

In the four chapters in Judges devoted to recorrding the life of Samson, four different women are presented and three of them coincide with Samson’s sin.  The only woman not associated wtih sin and Samson is his mother!  Amen? Amen.  I digress. 

In Judges chapter 14, Samson and his parents are traveling to Timnah.  Samson has seen and desired a woman from Timnah and has called upon his parents to get her for him as a wife. (This is before he has even spoken to the woman mind you!) As Samson is approaching the vineyards of Timnah, a young lion comes roaring toward him. 

6 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done.-Judges 14:6

Samson tore a lion apart with his bare hands by the power of the Spirit of the Lord!  We who are believers in Jesus Christ have the power of the living God, the Holy Spirit, within us.  We may not be faced with literal lions charging towards us in this lifetime, but we do have an enemy that is “like a lion.” Consider:

 8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.-1 Peter 5:8-9

The devil only goes around like a lion. 

The devil is a counterfeit lion. 

Take heart! The real lion is Jesus Christ the lion of the tribe of Judah.

We who are believers serve the real lion and possess his power within us to defeat the pseudo lion without us.  Let’s tear up the counterfeit lion, the devil, by the power of the Holy Spirit within us and the power of his word and press on toward some victorius living. 

Revelation 5:5

5Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

Samson, while possessing the power of the Spirit of God, did not revert to or rely on this power in the realm of the mind. Samson’s lust of the eyes cost him his literal sight in the end.  Samson’s desire was for beautiful women and their desire was to manipulate him in order to determine the source of his strength so they could, in turn, profit from his demise. Here is how Deliliah did it (just as the woman from Timnah before):

16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death.

 17 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazarite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”

 18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. [a] And his strength left him.

 20 Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
      He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.

 21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison.  – Judges 16:16-21

Samson’s lust of the eyes and of the flesh cost him his sight and his freedom.  Isn’t that what sin does?  If we give into lusts of our sinful heart it will cost us our vision for a hope and a future and it will cost us our freedom. For we are a slave to sin apart from Christ.

 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.- Romans 6:6-7

We should heed Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:29-30:

29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Is there something that you need to cut out of your life?  Do you need to lay something down before it has cost you your freedom?  Samson would do things differently were he to be given the chance, but his time has come and gone.  Yours has not.  Learn from his tragedy before you have one of your own to lament. 

All hope was not lost for Samson.  Our lion slayer returned to the Lord and brought his people more victory in death than in life. In this, we can take heart and follow suit. When we fail to live righteously we can seek redemption and renewal in Christ so that the rest of our story is for His glory.

28 Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.-Judges 16:28-30

Raise the Risk Challenge:

  • Examine yourself and see where you are currently weakest and most vulnerable within and confess these weaknesses to God and ask for His strength to overcome the pseudo lion without.
  • Cut out that which is presently tempting you the most to sin in your life and seek accountability.
  • Get out there and flex your muscles!  God gave them to you; now go workout! 
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