The Flawed Life of Samson – Broken Vow, Broken Life – 1 of 4
The story of Samson is painful because there is a gap between what could have been, and how they actually ended up. Samson was consecrated to God through something called the “Nazirite vow”, which is explained in Numbers 6:1-8. The Nazirite vow involved: (1) abstinence from anything that comes from a grape, (2) no contact with dead bodies, and (3) no haircuts. People would take this vow for the same reason that people today might enter into a time of fasting and prayer: because they wanted some kind of spiritual breakthrough. They were desperate for God’s help or direction, and so they would enter into a time of consecration which usually lasted for 30 days. Samson, however, involuntarily was a life-long Nazirite resulting from vows his parents made on his behalf (Judges 13:5).
Samson, called a “judge”, was raised up by God to deliver his people from an oppressor (Philistines in the case of Samson). At some point in Samson’s life the Spirit of God began to prompt him to get about his God appointed life’s work. But Samson insisted on doing what he wanted, rather than serving God. He began by ignoring God’s prohibition about marrying someone outside his faith, and he’s failing to honor and obey his parents (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). Next, Samson ignored the prohibition of a Nazirite touching the dead (Judges 14:5-9) and drinking wine (14:10). The downward spiral continues, but Samson doesn’t see the spiritual implications of what’s going on.
Later in Israel’s history, David would fight the Philistines for God’s glory, but not Samson: he gets into a fight because he is pursuing a forbidden relationship with a Philistine woman. Still, in Judges 14:19 we read that Samson was able to accomplish his feats because the “Spirit of the Lord” came upon him. This is a strange story. There is a tension here. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson, and then he did something he ought not do. How are we to understand that? The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson and says, “Don’t go this way! Don’t violate your vows! This is not what I want you to do!” And time and time again, Samson ignores the voice of God, and does whatever he pleases. So, the story of Samson is not a story about incredible strength, but rather about incredible weakness. It is a story about a man who is going to lose everything because he is disobedient to God. He ignores the promptings of God’s Spirit, and does just what he wants to do. He obeys his lusts. We have all done that, haven’t we? (Galatians 5:16,18,25).
Life is so much better when we respond to God’s Spirit. When we sense he is saying “No, don’t go that way!” We put on the brakes. When we sense him saying, “Go and do this or that,” we obey him. Life is better that way. That is the route to God’s blessing. But we can resist the Holy Spirit, can’t we? And if we persist in our resistance, our consciences become dulled, even seared, so that we don’t even hear Him speaking to our spirits anymore. Like Samson, we are called to live a consecrated life (Ephesians 4:1- 3). The problem with sin isn’t just that you do bad, selfish, unloving things, it’s that you fail to do good things, selfless things, loving things. It keeps you from living up to the standard that God calls us to live.
And it’s not just that we do bad things; we also fail to do and be all that God desires (Galatians 5:22-23). But if we keep ignoring our consciences, there may come a day where your heart becomes so hard that you’re not attuned to it anymore. And that is a dangerous place to be. At that point, our behavior will begin to drive our beliefs. You have been designed by God in such a way that your beliefs should guide and drive your behavior. A good litmus test just to ask yourself every once in a while, is: “Am I engaged in a behavior currently that two months ago, two years ago, ten years ago I would have said unequivocally was wrong?” It could be anything—a living arrangement, an addiction, or a pattern of lying. If the answer is “yes”, then you are a really good candidate not to repeat Samson’s mistakes. If so, let TCC’s Biblical counseling ministry help you.
The story of Samson, Israel’s judge, ends tragically (16:28-30)—but Jesus, our “Better Judge” succeeds where Samson failed. Jesus honored God when tempted. Jesus dies for his enemies, rather than killing them. Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, he can say, “You are not under the law of condemnation, you are under the Law of Grace.” And if you choose, you can say, “God, I don’t want to ignore you any longer. I want to surrender to what you are telling me to do. I want to become the person that you want me to become.”
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
In order to become the person God wants you to be, surrender to whatever he is telling you to do.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)