Thursday, August 03, 2006

How Samson triumphed over persecution

Samson was born to elderly parents. An angel of the Lord came to Manoah and his wife, telling them that they were going to have a child. He was to be a 'Nazarite unto God', (Judges 13:5) because he would serve the Lord and do his will. God wanted Samson to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. He was to be holy unto God. A Nazarite,who was separated unto God from birth to death (Numbers 6), vowed not to eat any unclean thing, or drink strong drink and never cut his hair. And, while the wife was carrying Samson in the womb, she was not to eat anything from the vine or drink strong drink.

The Lord blessed Samson, as he grew strong in Him. Samson met a daughter of a Philistine and wanted to take her as his wife. But, his parents asked him why he couldn't find a wife among his people. Samson would not hear of this, and told his father to go get her for him, for 'she pleaseth me well'. (Judges 14:3) He disobeyed his parents God-given instructions, and rejected his Godly heritage in order to fulfill his on desires. Sometimes we miss our blessing from God by disobedience. Although God didn't initiate the intention of Samson to marry the Philistine, he used his sin of marrying outside his people to accomplish what he wanted with the Philistines.

Samson went with his parents down to see the woman and become betrothed. And, on the way, through the vineyards, he came upon a lion, which he killed. When he went back down to marry her, he came upon the lion's carcass and found it full of bees which had made honey. So, he took his hands, scooped out some sweet honey, gave some to his parents, but never told them where it came from.

Later, he used the honey in the lion's dead carcass as a riddle for the Philistines. He knew he would win over them, for they had no way of knowing the answers to the riddle. But, they outsmarted him. The 30 young men went to his wife, and asked her to get them the answer, or they would burn her and her father. She enticed Samson and he gave her the answer. Later, when the young Philistines told him the answer, he knew only his wife could have betrayed him, for he had told nobody else. So, he sought revenge. He went down and killed 30 Philistines.

Samson headed back to his home, knowing he had overcome his anger with his wife, and still loved her. But, the father, believing that Samson no longer loved her, gave her to his friend. He tried to get Samson to take her younger sister. So, he went out and sought revenge again, against the Philistines by taking 300 foxes, tying them together, setting them afire, and turning them loose in the corn fields. They burned the standing corn and the vineyards. You know this really made the Philistines mad when they found it was Samson who had sought revenge for the Timnite giving his wife to his friend. So, they went and burned her and her father.

Seems women kept Samson busy staying out of the will of God, getting into trouble, and having more and more persecution sent his way. He was constantly avenging himself for something over a woman. But, all the while, the 'spirit of the Lord' would come upon him, and he would destroy more and more Philistines. He again slew more Philistines. But, this time, 3000 men of Judah came to take him to the Philistines, because they knew the Philistines had rule over them. He asked them not to do anything to him themselves. He didn't want to have to avenge himself against them, and shed Jewish blood. They bound him, and returned him to Lehi.

The Philistines started shouting at Samson, when they saw him. Again, the 'spirit of the Lord' (power) came upon him. The bands loosened and came off, and he found a new jawbone of an ass, which he used to kill another thousand men. God caused water to come out of the jawbone, when Samson was finished, and it revived him - gave him the power once again to carry out the commands of God.

Still, Samson was a man of his own. In other words, he still sought pleasure before the divine will of God. And, it always got him in trouble. His fight with the Philistines was more for him because of his anger and need to get revenge for his persecution, rather than for his people to be delivered out of the hands of the Philistines.

He went and laid with a harlot in Gaza. (Judges 16:1) And, he was almost caught, for they laid watch for him, meaning to kill him in the morning, when he left her house. But, somehow, perhaps by God awakening him at the right time of night, he was able to slip away and not be caught. He had such strength, that he took the gate to the city and two gate posts and carried them miles, almost to a place called Hebron. This way of life finally led to Samson's downfall.

Samson met Delilah, another Philistine woman, in the valley of Sorek. (Judges 16:4) And, as quickly as the Philistines found that he liked her, they went to Delilah and offered her 11 hundred pieces of silver as payment for her to entice him into her bed, to see where his strength was. She had to be a powerful woman, or apparently, Samson let his guard down one time too many. Delilah pressed him daily to find out where his strength lay, and he lied to her 3 times. But, one day, he let his heart guide him and he told her all about his Nazarite birth, that his hair had never been cut, and it was his strength. If his hair was cut, then all his strength and power would leave him. While he was sleeping, Delilah summoned the helper to come in and cut his hair.

When Samson awoke the next morning, he thought he would walk out with the power of God upon him, but he found God had departed, when his hair was cut. He was caught by the Philistines, and they gouged out his eyes, bound him up and put him in prison. He was lowered to doing a woman's work of grinding, while in prison. But, (and herein lies the power) Samson's hair began to grow out again. The strength of God would be with him once again.

The Philistines began to gloat and feel sure of themselves that 'their god' had delivered Samson into their hands. They began to party and called out Samson and set him between the pillars of the prison. But, Samson again called upon God to strengthen him, so he could once again be avenged of the Philistines for loss of his eyes. He finally put his whole faith in the one true God, and took hold of the two pillars where he stood. He pushed with all his strength, and brought down the house, killing all the lords and people within, and losing his own life as well. It was said he killed more Philistines in that moment of triumph than he did all the years of his life.

Although Samson often lost sight of his command from God, in the end, he realized that it was God who had saved him. He began his life with the mighty power given to him by God, and got in disobedience at times. But, he would once again, exercise his faith to do one last thing for the Lord. This would find him a place among the people with great faith in the Bible. (Heb 11:32-34)

Too often we take too long to realize God is on our side. We only need to be obedient to His commands, and He will bless our lives. Imagine what Samson could have done with the strength and power God had given him, had he not given in to the worldly things, and went after his own desires rather than those of God for his life.

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Heather Smith said...

This is a great post and sadly it is too true that we often act like Samson and go our own way. Thanks for reminding me to always seek God's way and not my own!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I hadn't checked in on your blog for quite some time and I'm glad I did. Your entry on Samson was a blessing to me. Our ways are NOT His ways - that's for sure ! 'On Ya' - ma

Anonymous said...

You consistently make the mistake in this blog of making it look like persecution was sent by God to punish Samson. Hence, comnfusing persecution and punishment. They are never the same in scripture. Persecution is the result of godly living (cf. 2 Tim 3:12) not hedoism (as marked Samson's life).

Barbara said...

Heather & Ma, thanks for your comments.

Anonymous - I don't see where I've said God sent persecution to Samson. Samson brought all his persecution on himself.

For his pursuit of pleasure instead of following God, he did undergo lots of persecution. They were constantly trying to find out his strengths so they could bring him down, and they finally did. But, his faith brought him out finally, although he lost his life.