And He said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now drink no wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”
13 So the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. 14 She may not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor may she drink wine or similar drink, nor eat anything unclean. All that I commanded her let her observe.”
What do you think about when you hear about Samson?
Many of us may think of a guy who was really strong and powerful that fell asleep of the lap of the wrong girl. The next thing you know, he’s weak, blind and grinding wheat to feed his enemies.
While this is all true, it doesn’t really do justice to the story. Is it so simple that God just got mad at this guy for getting a bad haircut that He takes away his strength and leaves him helpless in facing his enemies?
This type of simplification of the story can create a distorted perception of who God is and how He deals with us.
The traditional site of Samson’s grave is right over here, let’s take a look.
The Biblical account states that Samson was buried in the tomb of his father and so you have here the graves of Manoah and Samson together.
But what is the real lesson of Samson? What can we learn from this man’s life?
Samson’s mom was a barren women and couldn’t have children. But the Lord visit’s her and promises her a son that will begin to save Israel from the Philistines who ruled over them. He gives her specific instructions that she was to abstain from wine and unclean foods because Samson was to be a “Nazarite” to the Lord even from birth.
What was a Nazarite?
We think of Jesus being a “Nazarite” because He was from Nazareth. But the “Nazarite Vow” was what was taken as a symbol of ‘separation’ or ‘set apart’ for a season.
How was this ‘separation’ put into practice?
Numbers 6 is where the law of the Nazarite was described.
Numbers 6- The Law of the Nazirite
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, 3 he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink; he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink; neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. 4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, from seed to skin.
5 ‘All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. 6 All the days that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body. 7 He shall not make himself unclean even for his father or his mother, for his brother or his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head. 8 All the days of his separation he shall be holy to the Lord.
9 ‘And if anyone dies very suddenly beside him, and he defiles his consecrated head, then he shall shave his head on the day of his cleansing; on the seventh day he shall shave it. 10 Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting; 11 and the priest shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and make atonement for him, because he sinned in regard to the corpse; and he shall sanctify his head that same day. 12 He shall consecrate to the Lord the days of his separation, and bring a male lamb in its first year as a trespass offering; but the former days shall be lost, because his separation was defiled.
13 ‘Now this is the law of the Nazirite: When the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall be brought to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 14 And he shall present his offering to the Lord: one male lamb in its first year without blemish as a burnt offering, one ewe lamb in its first year without blemish as a sin offering, one ram without blemish as a peace offering, 15 a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and their grain offering with their drink offerings.
16 Then the priest shall bring them before the Lord and offer his sin offering and his burnt offering; 17 and he shall offer the ram as a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord, with the basket of unleavened bread; the priest shall also offer its grain offering and its drink offering. 18 Then the Nazirite shall shave his consecrated head at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and shall take the hair from his consecrated head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offering.
19 ‘And the priest shall take the boiled shoulder of the ram, one unleavened cake from the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and put them upon the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his consecrated hair, 20 and the priest shall wave them as a wave offering before the Lord; they are holy for the priest, together with the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering. After that the Nazirite may drink wine.’
21 “This is the law of the Nazirite who vows to the Lord the offering for his separation, and besides that, whatever else his hand is able to provide; according to the vow which he takes, so he must do according to the law of his separation.”
In order to maintain the calling of a Nazarite, Samson had to maintain what made him ‘separate.’ The three primary things were:
No contact with dead things, any copse, human or animal, not even for the sake of burial of close relatives.
No contact with wine, or anything that comes from the vine, not even raisins.
No cutting of hair during the season of his separation.
Early on, Samson kills a lion with the strength God gave him. But later he goes back and discovers that bees have made a hive in the dead carcass of the lion and he takes some to eat.
When he marries the Philistine girl, they have a weeklong party. It is very hard to believe that the Philitines he was partying with would understand him not being able to have some wine.
Then there is Delilah, whom he falls for. Samson has only one thing left that still distinguishes him as a Nazarite, his hair. He has never had a haircut since birth. People could see, because it was noticeable, that he was still a Nazarite. But now, with his head shaved, there was no longer anything left that made him ‘separate’ from others as his calling demanded.
“And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.
21 Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.”
Here was a guy with a calling and God had gifted him with the ability to begin to deliver Israel, but he refused to recognize that to fulfill his calling he had to remain separate from the world around him.
God also has a calling on our lives, a plan that He desires us to enter into. To be a blessing to others and to defeat the enemies in our lives. But that plan can never be fulfilled unless we understand that God calls us to a life that is visibly separate from the world around us.
Samson is a sign for us, to help us understand that God will not go with us if we choose to go our own way.
Choose this day, the call of God on your life. Don’t cut short His plan for you in order to satisfy the short lived satisfactions of this life.