SAMSON! I'd be willing to bet that his name brings some sort of image to your mind. Big, strong, good looking guy? Victor Mature (remember the old movie?) Who would Hollywood cast in that role today? Michael Clark Duncan possibly. The guy is as big as a mountain and as strong as an ox!
But there's a problem with that image! If you remember, everybody was baffled by Samson's incredible strength. If he had been big as a mountain and strong as an ox nobody would been surprised by his strength!
I think Samson was just a normal looking man. Men in his day were not that different from men in our day. He was probably about 5' 11" and 175 pounds, or so. Nothing special. Except for his hair. He couldn't cut his hair or trim his beard. As a Nazarite that was the rule.
A Nazarite was not necessarily from the town of NAZARETH, like Jesus. A Nazarite (Numbers 6) was a man who voluntarily chose to make a special vow of consecration to God. It was usually for a set period of time, during which they would abstain from all "fruits of the vine", grapes, raisins, wine, and let their hair grow freely as an outward expression of their separation from other men. But God COMMANDED Samson to be separate! Not just temporarily, but permanently!
So here's this man who hasn't had a trim in 19 years, minimum! His hair (and his beard) would have been down to his knees, AT LEAST! No wonder the guy had anger issues! This just wasn't done in those days! Talk about a "boy named Sue syndrome"!
Samson had the potential to be, quite possibly, the greatest leader in all of human history. He was chosen by God before he was even conceived. He was blessed before he was ever born; set apart to lead, govern, and deliver his people!
So what happened? He was weak. The strong man was actually a weakling! Instead of being separated from the rest of the world and devoted to God's plans and purposes, as his Nazarite appearance and condition implied, Samson made far too many decisions based solely upon his feelings and desires!
Early in his "career" as a Judge of Israel we find Samson telling his parents that he has SEEN the woman he wants to marry, and demanding that they make the necessary arrangements. It was bad enough that his decision to marry this woman was apparently based entirely upon her physical attributes, but he was already violating one of God's rules by choosing her! You see, this particular beauty was a Philistine, and God had expressly forbidden the Israelites from marrying anyone who wasn't Hebrew.
His reason was simple; when you join yourself to someone who worships another god you are setting yourself (and your partner) up for confusion and heart-ache! That was definitely the result in Samson's situation! The wedding was a fiasco, and before the whole thing was resolved (Judges 15:6) Samson's wife and Father-in-law were dead at the hands of their countrymen.
In the Apostle Paul's letter to the church at Corinth he warned the Christians there not to "yoke" themselves unequally with people who did not share their faith in Jesus Christ. This is not a value judgment against people who aren't Christians, but a loving guideline given to protect people!
If you intend to bind yourself to another person, whether in business or in marriage, you need to be certain that you are both on the same "sheet of music"!
According to the Bible, the guiding motivation for all Christians is to be the Spirit of God, who moves in to live within them when they choose to follow Christ, while the guiding motivation for those who are not Christians has to be something entirely different. The core foundation of those two individuals is totally different, and that means that conflict and confusion is inevitable in their relationship.
"But Samson was obviously not led by God much of the time!" True. And he suffered for it. Samson insisted on having his way and God allowed it. God's plan was still fulfilled, but Samson didn't get to ENJOY the victories God used him to provide. Time after time Samson chose self-gratification over obedience, and the result in his life was blindness and death.
Yet somewhere down deep Samson must have learned the lessons that God was teaching him along the journey, because he is referred to later (Hebrews 11) as a man of faith! That tells me that at the end of Samson's life he had settled in his heart to stop pursuing pleasure as his number one priority, and chose instead to pursue God's plan for his life. That's when God promoted him.
Remember, God knew when he called Samson that he would make some wrong choices and do some foolish things. God was never caught off guard by Samson's rebellious and self-centered decisions! In fact, He planned for them. God's priority in Samson's life (as in yours and mine) wasn't the battles with the Philistines, but the battles within Samson's own heart. According to Hebrews 11, Samson won that battle in the end. JUST A THOUGHT..
- Pastor Robert Fountain