Here we go again! Judges 13 is the seventh sin cycle! I am sure you have the pattern memorized by now: sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, silence. Except there is no evidence in Scripture that Israel actually cried out in supplication to God for deliverance this time around.
Judges 13-16 tells the sad story of Samson. He was a man budding with potential, but his life was marked by missteps.
The angel of the LORD visited his parents and gave two predictions:
1) He would be a Nazirite from birth to death (13:5,7)
2) He would begin the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines (13:5)
We already learned about the Nazirite vow in the background on Numbers 6, but here it is for a quick reference:
The Nazirite vow could be taken by people who wanted to commit themselves totally to God by consecration and separation to Him. It could be taken by either a male or female. There were many prohibitions connected with it. The two most notable ones were abstaining from fermented beverages and not cutting your hair which was in direct opposition to some pagan rituals that required shaved heads. We will hear quite a bit about the hair component of this vow when we read about the life of Samson in Judges 13-16.
The Spirit of the LORD was on Samson (13:5). The Spirit would come and go with people in the Old Testament, but it stays with us all the time if we believe in Jesus. It seems like the Spirit only affected him physically. It did not seem to have any effect on him spiritually. What was up with him wanting a Philistine wife? His directive to his parents to "Get her for me as my wife" (14:2) seems like the ranting of a spoiled only child rather than a judge of Israel! What about being a Nazirite who was totally committed to God?
Marrying a Philistine woman was:
1) Against God's law (Exodus 34:15-17; Deuteronomy 7:1-4)
2) A disgrace to his family since they were the hated enemy of Israel
The Philistines were the "sea people." They had migrated in twelfth century B.C. from Greece to the coastal plain of Canaan. Samson was born in Zorah, a city in the Danite area that bordered on Philistine territory. Samson judged Israel for twenty years of the forty year domination of the Philistines (15:20). The Philistine oppression during this time was believed to be from 1095 - 1055 B.C. with Samson's term as a judge occurring from 1075-1055 B.C.
The second prediction about Samson would begin the work of the deliverance of Israel, but it came at the cost of his life and after God had allowed him to be humbled. The prayers of Samuel (1 Samuel 7) and the conquests of David (2 Samuel 5:17-25) would finish the job Samson had started.
Samson had a weakness for women of the Philistine persuasion, but God in His sovereignty allowed this weakness to be the thing that would lead him into confrontation with the Philistines and the beginning of their downfall. Something that God wanted to have happen all along.
It always floors me that Samson, with his mistakes, is still listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:32-34:
And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.God can use a person of faith despite their weaknesses. So, He can use you and me for His purposes too!
The whole time I read this story today, I thought of the 1949 Cecil B. Demille epic starring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr! This genre of movie was often on Saturday TV when I was growing up. I still visualize blind Samson pushing against the pillars and crushing all those Philistines! Sometimes it is really good to see the Bible portrayed in this way. Hollywood does not always get all the details right, but it is still fun. Maybe your application can be watching the film!
How have you had missteps, been humbled, and then seen God do amazing things in spite of you?
Set us apart LORD and use us for Your glory. We realize that we are such imperfect vessels and cracked pots. But You choose to use cracked pots for Your glory, and I thank You for that! Amen.