Samson: Ignoring God’s Call
Samson’s life story is in Judges 13-16, and John’s is revealed in Luke 1-3, Matthew 14:10. Central to Samson’s life is that “he will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.” (Judges 13:5 NAS) God’s plan for John’s life is that “He will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.” (Luke 1:16 NAS) With and without their obedience, God’s plan is fulfilled.
In Samson’s early years “…the child grew up and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him…” (Judges 13:24b-25) In John’s early years we learn, “And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts. “…his food was locusts and wild honey.” (Luke 1:80 NAS; Matthew 3:4a LB)
As we follow them into adulthood we see the example of John the Baptist who is a devoted follower, and Samson who struggles with obedience.
In his adult life, Samson epitomizes the prodigal son Jesus describes in Luke 15. Samson wanders aimlessly through life except for three times when the spirit of the Lord comes upon him for a specific purpose. In two instances, Samson uses the enormous physical strength that God has given him to rescue Israel from the Philistines. Other times he uses his strength for personal gain. Ultimately, in spite of his prodigal life, Samson does help his people as God prophesied.
On his own Samson make dubious choices.
—Because an “uncircumcised Philistine” woman “looks good to me,” he demands that his parents, “now get her for me as my wife.” (Judges 14:1-3) Normally the parents would arrange a Jewish bride for their son, especially true for one with a Nazarite vow.
—Samson sees honey in a dead lion, and he uses his hands to get the honey to fulfill his hunger. (Judges 14:8-9) As a Nazarite he should not touch anything that is dead.
—Samson returns to marry his bride and learns her father has her married to Samson’s best friend. Out of anger Samson kills many Philistines, not at God’s direction, and then hides. (Judges 15)
The spirit of the Lord helps Samson in three situations thus fulfilling prophecy.
—A lion attacks him as he walks; the spirit of the LORD comes upon him, and Samson rips the lion apart. (Judges 14:5-6)
—Because of a riddle Samson tells before the wedding and a wager of 30 linen garments and 30 sets of clothes, there are ensuing problems. (Read about it in Judges 14:14-19) Because of the unresolved problems, The “Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power.” Samson then kills 30 Philistine men. (Judges 14:19 NIV)
—The Philistines come to avenge the men Samson kills, and the “Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power,” and with “a fresh jawbone of a donkey” he kills 1,000 Philistine men. (Judges 15:14a-15 NIV)
Samson seeks God’s help for selfish reasons.
—“Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD. You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” (Judges 16:18 NIV) God opens up a rock and water comes out.
—For the second time in his life, “Samson prays 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.’” (Judges 16:28 NIV) Pushing on the pillars with all his strength, they collapse killing 3,000 men and women. Samson kills more at that moment than he slays during his lifetime.
This occurs in Gaza at the temple of the Dagon, the Philistine’s god. Samson is in the temple of Dagon because he is in love with another Philistine woman, Delilah. While Samson is with her, she convinces him to reveal the reason for his strength. Once he explains the Nazarite vow and his hair is surreptitiously shaved that night, the Philistines capture him and gouge out both of his eyes.
Samson spends his life without direction. However, his Nazarite vow and strength begin the rescue of Israel from the Philistines in spite of Samson’s lust for Philistine women and inability to follow God’s plan for his life.
Discussions about Samson usually focus on his strength and his destroying the pillars in the temple. Write down two areas in Samson’s life that are new to you and that you identify with.
Samson calls out to the Lord only two times. Both times are for selfish reason. How do you think God felt? Think about your own prayers—how often are they for selfish reasons? Do you need to ask God for forgiveness?
Have you ever made a vow to God? Are you married? That is a vow to God. Many say vows lightly, but does God still take them lightly? Look up Numbers 30:2; 6:1-8. Write down your thoughts.