A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless.The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son.Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean,because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines." (NIV)
We first find out about the birth of Samson in the 13th chapter of the Book of Judges. He was born the "son of Manoah". In Judges 13: 3, an angel appeared to Manoah's wife and announced the birth of Samson. In that announcement, the Angel of the Lord told his mother that his birth was to be "special" in that he would be raised as a "Nazarite".
I. What did it mean to be a Nazarite?
First, this meant because the child was to be special, that his mother also had to live a "consecrated lifestyle" to avoid any "fetal contamination" during the "conception" and "subsequent birth" of this special child. The angel told her that as a pregnant mother, she was not to consume any strong drink nor drink any wine.
Secondly, she was not to eat any unclean thing, because the son that she was to bear was to be raised a "Nazarite" unto God. This angel also instructed her as to how she was to raise the child. He told her that no razor was to come upon his head because he would began to deliver Israel from their bondage, as well as serve as an example to having commitment to God.
Even though God had set the character standard for Samson, it was very unfortunate that Samson was guilty of falling short of that standard mark throughout most of his life. This also holds true for all in this modern society living a life full of sin. God has placed a standard behavior criteria that all should hold on to, and live in such a way that pleases the Lord, however, just like Samson fell, many times, we fall short of what our God expects of us.
II. Samson's Character Flaws and Traits:
A. Samson was "prideful"; possessing a "notorious" bad temper that proned him to display open "temper tantrums".
This "temper" surfaced in the 14th chapter when Samson had gone down to Timnath and met a Philistinian woman that "caught his eye". He went back home and told his father and mother that he desired to have her as his wife. His father and mother strongly objected, pointing out to Samson that he wanted to marry a "daughter" of their captors. They, being in bewilderment asked him “Isn't there any women out of our own race and heritage that you haven't found suitable to be considered as your wife?”
(The bible vindicates Samson for his choice of wives in Judges 14: 4. Neither of his parents were aware that God was directing him (Ps. Samson didn't know this either) to do so because this would give him an opportunity to war with the Philistines.)
In the beginning of 14th chapter, his parent's genuine concern was based on their history and animosity with Philistine, but you also can sense Samson having temper outbursts in his response to their concerns. I can imagine him rolling his eyes and auguring with them to the point of saying that he wasn’t going to settle for anyone lees than this woman because in Samson's own words: I want her for she "pleases me well". His fits of rage surfaces again when he proposed a riddle at the wedding feast.
On Samson's first visit to see his future bride, the Bible said Samson beforehand encountered a lion and killed it with his bear hands. He found the skeleton of the same lion now "occupied" by a swarm of bees. At the wedding feast while entertaining the wedding guest, he challenged that anyone who could solve his riddle; would receive thirty changes of clothes. After unsuccessfully solving the riddle, the guest imposed and veiled a threat upon Samson's fiancé to coax and Samson into revealing the answer to the riddle . The people, coaxing the answer now revealed to him the correct answer. Samson, now filled with indignation, went to Ashkelon and killed thirty Philistines, stripped them of their clothing, brought back the change of clothing and gave it to them who solved the riddle. His temper resurfaces again when visiting his wife at the father's house, her father refused to let him see her. This was after her father had given her hand in marriage to another man. Samson concluded the way his father-in-law treated him was the general attitude the Philistines felt about him in general.
The Bible said that Samson tied three hundred fox’s tails together, tied burning torches to their tails and set afire the grain fields, the vineyards, and the olive groves. The Philistines retaliated by burning both Samson's wife and her father. "This provocation" really sent Samson into a fiery fit of rage, and because of what they did to them; Samson "struck them with a great slaughter". To avenge themselves, the Philistines invaded Judah.
The people of Judaea heard what Samson had done, not knowing that God sent him to deliverer and eradicate them from Philistine bondage. They sought to save themselves by handing Samson over to his captives. Samson agreed to the seizure under the condition that they themselves wouldn't kill him. The Bible said the people of Judea tied him up with two new cords and brought him to Lehi (Lehi means "a jaw:). They turned him over to the Philistines. Believing that they were finally rid of their tormentor, the Philistines began to shout for joy. It was at the point of their shouting that Samson extraordinary strength all of a sudden came to the forefront and the Bible said that with a jawbone of an ass, Samson killed a thousand Philistine men.
B. Samson was blessed with he ability to exhibit extraordinary strength. A. The first time that Samson realized his superhuman strength was when he was comfronted by a fierce lion. The Bible records that Samson "tore" the lion with his bare hands.
B. The second time, Samson had killed a thousand Philistine men using his God given strength and using a jawbone of an ass as his only weapon.
C. The third time his tremendous strength was put on display was in Judges 16 in Gaza. Samson had gone there and became intimate with a woman of whoredom. The people, got wind that Samson was in their midst and locked the city gates "supposedly" trapping him with the sole intention of killing him in the morning when he left the woman's house. Samson, at midnight arose and broke the bars, broke away the bolts, hinges and carried the gates to the top of the neighboring hill that looked toward Hebron..
D. The 4th and ultimate exhibition of his superhuman strength was after he was led to the two inner pillars of the temple of Dargon, and in his final prayer to God asked God to give him the strength to push the two pillars apart from the foundation of the temple. In Judges 16, we see him actually performing this heroic feat, unfortunately he also perished when the entire temple collapsed on the Philistines, as well as on himself.
C. Samson was a womanizer.
Samson was a "player" and he had no control when it came to maintaining self-control and having self-discipline. It started with the woman at Timnath. Here we now find him in Gaza with this woman and unfortunately, it was this kind of undisciplined behavior that proved to be the basis for his ultimate demise. The last and final woman he was intimate with was a woman of Sorek named Delilah. In chapter sixteen Delilah was bribed to find out the secret of Samson's strength. After many unsuccessful attempts to get him to reveal the source of his strength, she finally succeeds by challenging the love Samson said that he had for her. He, defending his professed love for Delilah finally told her that the secret of his strength lies. He told her that no razor was to come upon his head and if one strand of his hair was to have a razor placed upon it and cut, that he would then become like any other man. She subsequently told Samson to lay his head upon her knees, and while falling asleep, she called in the lords of the Philistines to shave off the seven locks of his hair. Now a shaven Samson is powerless, and is now forsaken by Jehovah God, thus he has now become easy prey for the enemy.
D. Samson was sarcastic, while at the same time being full of humor.
It was this trait that prompted him to devise a riddle at the wedding feast. This was his way of fighting with his wits. In Judges 14, the Bible revealed to us that he used his first marriage as an opportunity to wage war against the Philistines. This shows that he was witty. On the surface everybody, including his parents thought that he was marrying the woman at Timnath out of love, until Samson's subsequent behavior proved otherwise.
E. Samson was a praying man.
In Judges 15, after killing a thousand Philistines with a jawbone of an ass, Samson was physically weary after much fighting. God revives his strength after he prays by bringing forth water out of a rock. The other occasion when he prays is in chapter sixteen before God revived his strength and he destroyed the Philistines that were in the temple of Dagon. The latter prayer proved to be his last prayer.
III. Life Application to you the Reader:
In doing the research on the character of Samson, I began to see that all of us in some ways emulate Samson’s behavior patterns at different times while we are on this Christian journey. Ecclesiastes 3:15, particularly virtually sums up Samson’s life as well as ours. Like Samson, we can exhibit a humorous streak of sarcasm in our character. Sometimes we play practical jokes, and sometimes we talk in riddles. Sometimes we are witty, and sometimes we use these behaviors to hide our real intentions. Sometimes we are like wolves trying to present ourselves as sheep. Truthfully, at times we have hidden agendas and reveal our real intentions. Unfortunately, in these times, sometimes innocent people get hurt because of our showing ourselves one way to them to get their attention, but ultimately in time the real us finally comes to the forefront. Jesus taught: "that those things that are hidden would one day be revealed in the open".
Secondly, there are times on our journey like Samson, we will make unusual request that boggles the minds of our love ones, not knowing that sometimes, these unusual decisions are all in the ultimate plan of God for our lives, and our actions and decisions are also sometimes being used within the total ministry of God toward the redemption of all of his people. Romans 8: 28 reminds us that “All things work together for the good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.” Like Samson, we also can lay claim that we express our dissatisfaction over parental, supervisory, or even governmental or pastoral questioning over our verbal desires by throwing temper outbursts, or even over the results of decisions that didn’t work in our favor. Like Samson, we seek revenge to rectify the wrong that was done to us. We in turn violate the scriptures in Romans 12: 19 where the Apostle Paul admonished us not to “avenge ourselves, but rather to “give place unto wrath”, because he also reminds us that “ vengeance is mine saith the Lord.” as well as what the psalmist said in Psalms 94:1 that it is the “Lord God to whom vengeance belongs to.”
From a male perspective, many of us men definitely can identify with this following character trait of Samson. The reason I say this is because at one time, many of us were classified as womanizers. There are unfortunately within the ministry some of us that are still guilty of this sinful practice. Just because Samson’s, mission in life carried him down the path toward marrying many “strange” women, women who are spiritually “unequally yoked” does not justify those of us who are continuing this practice to do so, especially if we are now married with living spouses.
The "man of wisdom" who speaks in Proverbs tells us in too many places about the “strange woman” and how she sets up and ultimately destroys her men. Like Samson, many of us men have no qualms about picking up women for just one-night encounters of sexual gratification. Many news articles have been written in our society’s news media sources that uncovered, exposed, and presented for public ridicule many great, gifted men of God that had fallen from grace because they encountered and cohabited with women whom they knew down deep within their hearts that they should have avoided getting emotionally, sexually, and romantically involved with, but, inspite of the risk factors involved, they did anyway and their relationships with these women proved to the path that led each one of them to destruction. The Bible reminds us in Proverbs 14:12 that “ There is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the way therein are the ways of death.” There are times also in our lives that like Samson, that we have been granted extraordinary strength in times of crisis where if the Lord had not granted it, then we may have been destroyed ourselves, or we may not have been able to rescue someone else from grave danger. Just like Samson in the temple of Dagon, we called and relied on God to give that extraordinary strength while dealing with our crisis. Lastly, like Samson, we rely on prayer to see us through our many changing situations in this life. There are many scriptures written within the Bible that admonishes all of us to pray without ceasing and to be instant in prayer. We are reminded that prayer is the key to unlocking the deep treasures of the Word of God, as well as the way of keeping a hot line of communication between God and ourselves. So in conclusion, we can say that there are many people in the Bible that everyone can identify with. Samson is one of them.
IV. C ONCLUSION:
The only conclusion we can learn from the life of Samson is that there danger in living your life by your own set of rules. Anyone who doesn’t bring his or her own body under subjection can only in the end expect to have plowed a destructive path toward a tragic end. The fact that a person has been given enormous talents and spiritual gifts from God does not guarantee that their lives will be lived the way of a Christian, nor does it guarantee that they will allow God to guide their every steps in life. Truly, there is real danger in doing what is right in your own eyes.