Dedicated to God


“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, ‘You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.’” - Judges 13:1-5

The recurring theme in Judges begins the chapter. Israel disobeyed again. They did evil in God’s eyes, which means that once again they fell into the enticements of the culture and began to worship other gods. They became involved again in the sexual perversions and sick sacrifices of the Baal and Asherah cults.

Was Samson an unlikely hero? My Sunday school experience certainly put him in the hero category. We might even elevate Samson to superhero status. Only superheroes kill lions with their bare hands, run down foxes and tie their tails together, carry a city gate more than 20 miles up a mountain from Gaza to Hebron, and defeat enemies when overwhelmingly outnumbered.

Consider Samson. Move past the superhuman feats and there we learn about the flawed man and his story. Like Isaac, Samson was introduced to us as an unexpected gift from God to parents who could not conceive a child. His parents dedicated him to God.

Before his birth, the angel told his parents that he was to be a Nazarite and therefore he was not to consume wine, eat any unclean food, or cut his hair.

For a time our superhero performed spectacularly. As the angel prophesied, he was Israel’s champion, confounding and frustrating the powerful Philistines. And yet, he didn’t fully defeat them.

Samson was both extraordinary and ordinary. He was a human contradiction. His amazing feats were constantly contradicted by examples of his human flaws. As a Nazarite he was to remain clean, but as soon as he was of age he threw a spoiled child tantrum and demanded a Philistine wife (Judges 14:1-2).

He was to eat no unclean food, but after killing the lion he later found a honeycomb in the carcass and ate the honey. Touching a dead animal and eating the honey broke the vow (Judges 14: 8-9).

Wedding feasts included wine or fermented drinks. While the scripture does not say that Samson drank at his own wedding feast, it is a logical conclusion. Certainly the Philistine parents of the bride and guests from Timnah would be serving it and most likely also serving unclean foods (pork).

Samson’s flawed character continued to be exhibited. He tricked and teased, lied and deceived. But eventually his greatest weakness was his undoing. Samson had an insatiable appetite for Philistine women. He chose Delilah over obedience to God. In what seemed to be the last straw in the story of the superhero, he revealed the secret, his hair was cut, and his strength was gone.

Still, and in spite of Samson’s multiple acts of intentional disobedience, God pursued him.

In Samson’s story we are led to God. Our God persistently pursues us, as he did Samson, and will not let go. God’s ultimate purpose is to redeem and to restore what is broken. On the micro scale God redeemed and restored a broken man; on the macro scale God is at work, redeem those who seek forgiveness through the gift of his Son and restoring a world broken by sin.

Samson the superhero is an unlikely hero. With eyes gouged out, the superhero was reduced to doing the work of a donkey as he turned the millstone. He was humiliated and shamed, a judge who fell from the pinnacle of heroism to the depths of life’s valley.

In the valley, God acted. If Samson the strongman had eliminated the Philistines, glory may have mistakenly been given to the superhuman. But the battle was the Lord’s battle. When Samson was born, God promised deliverance. He persistently pursued and held onto Samson and never let go.

It is amazing what our persistent God did to deliver and redeem his people through this unlikely hero. He will do similar things through those he calls to lead. He is still at work, persistently pursing us and using us for his glory to deliver those who are broken and to restore that which is broken.

Father, we trust in You. Use us, weaknesses and all to serve You and a Your Kingdom. Amen.
Aug 12 2018