The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), April 4
Reality TV gives people a sneak peek (sometimes too long of a peek) into the otherwise private lives of others. The writer of Judges offers a glimpse into the development of a judge that God raises up to deliver Israel from the Philistines. It isn’t pretty.
Manoah and his wife struggle with infertility. One day the Angel of the LORD appears to Manoah’s wife and foretells that she will have a son. This prophecy contains two conditions and one promise: first condition, that she must not touch any unclean thing or drink wine during her pregnancy; second condition, that her son must be separated to the LORD as a Nazirite from birth until death. The promise assures her that Samson will be used by God to deliver Israel. Even early on, Samson’s life demonstrates incredible potential—he kills a lion with his bare hands, but his poor choices corrupt his potential.
Like many older couples who have a son late in life, Samson’s parents spoil him.
Samson sees a Philistine woman and demands that his parents get her for him. They succumb to his pressure and arrange the marriage. During the wedding feast, Samson issues a challenge—that anyone who can solve his riddle will win a large prize—and his fiancee’s people threaten her until she pressures him to explain the riddle. Samson retaliates against the people’s cheating by killing 30 Philistines. His wife is given to another man, and he is taken into captivity. He escapes the Philistines and is established as leader over all of Israel for 20 years.
Later, Samson’s relationship with a Philistine prostitute almost causes his death. Then he falls in love with Delilah, who is his undoing. The rulers of the Philistines bribe her and threaten her and her family with death unless she uncovers the secret to Samson’s strength. They cut off his hair, gouge out his eyes, and put him in prison. Samson violates every aspect of the Nazirite vow. He becomes a man of the flesh—driven by his sexual appetites.
Samson reveals a number of truths about wasted potential:
- Overindulgent parents ultimately harm the children they purport to love.
- Spoiled children never build the spiritual muscle of self-restraint.
- Without spiritual muscle, people become enslaved to their appetites.
- Passions to which people surrender become masters that bring destruction.
Samson’s physical strength was amazing, but his moral weakness robbed that strength of its true potential. Samson called upon the LORD and was used greatly to destroy the Philistines in his death, but only God knows what he could have been during his life, had he been morally upright.
Questions from today’s reading (Judges 11:29-15:20):
Who does the Angel of the LORD approach regarding the delivery of Israel from the oppression of the Philistines? What do Manoah and his wife come to understand about their life purpose?
What problems does Samson create for himself as he surrenders to living life according to his fleshly lusts?
What does God’s use of Samson reveal about the men of Samson’s day? About God’s covenantal faithfulness?