Judges 13 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. 2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. 3 And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4 Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, 5 for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, 7 but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”
Normally, one chose to become a Nazirite for a specific amount of time. However, Samson was different. He was to be a Nazirite for his entire life. Nazirites set themselves apart in three physical ways: they did not cut their hair, they did not drink wine, and they did not touch anything unclean. Samson was set apart by God before this birth. He was chosen by God. And he broke all three of the Nazirine vows during his lifetime, due to his two major weaknesses – anger and women.
When Samson was grown, he became enthralled with a Philistine woman. Now the Philistines were enemies of the Israelites. When Samson informed his parents that he wanted to marry this woman, they were appalled. I’m sure they reminded him of his vow to God, but Samson had made up his mind. Just in case we think that Samson is going against God, Judges 14:4 reminds us otherwise. “His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.” Samson married the woman, and gave the Philistines a riddle. It was during this time that Samson broke one of the Nazirite vows. He ate honey from the dead carcass of a lion which he had killed. Samson’s wife cried and whined and claimed that he didn’t love her – for seven straight days. Men, I’m sure you can understand how that could break the strongest of men, so Samson told her the answer to the riddle. When the Philistines revealed the answer, Samson became so angry that he killed thirty Philistines. That didn’t set well with the Philistines, so Samson’s wife was given to his best man. That act fueled his hatred toward the Philistines.
Samson had a rebelllious nature. That, plus his heart weaknesses put Samson in several precarious positions. Samson had already had one Philistine wife. He had slept with a prostitute. Then he met Delilah, who would prove to be his nemesis. One must wonder at what point Samson veered off the path God had chosen for him, and paved his own carnal path. Delilah was on that path. Once again, lust won in Samson’s heart. Did Delilah love Samson? Probably not, but Samson couldn’t see past his lust. Just as his first wife did, Delilah eventually wore him down, and he shared the secret of his strength. And just like his first wife, Delilah used that information against him. The Philistines cut off Samson’s hair, the source of his strength. The final Nazirite vow was broken.He had become separated from God, and God’s blessings were no longer on him. Samson’s eyes were gouged out, and he was used as a slave. However, the Philistines quickly forgot the source of his strength, his long hair.
Samson had a lot of time to reflect on his past. I believe his thoughts went something like this:
“God, how could I have been so spiritually blind? You set me apart before birth, but I wanted to go my own way. I wanted women, women who tricked me. I got angry and took revenge on the Philistines, rather than listening to You. I thought my ways were better than Your ways. And now, I am physically blind. Chained. Unable to serve You and fulfill my calling. I wasted my life – all those years when I should have been serving you, I served myself.”
Judges 16:28 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and he leaned his weight against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other. 30 And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.
Samson’s story has always intrigued me. It has a message for us that cannot be denied. Each of us have strayed from the will of God, some for a short period and others for years. During those times of paving our own carnal path, we aren’t doing God’s will. But we haven’t been abandoned by God. He uses those experiences, both good and bad, to chasten us and strengthen us. We cannot think of time straying from God as time lost. We should instead thank God for never leaving us, and ask Him to help us use those experiences to gain a better understanding of our weakness and His strength. Whether you have strayed from God for four minutes, four days, or four years, you cannot make up that time. You can do what Samson did, and ask God to strengthen you and use you now – with your new life experiences.
Did Samson follow God’s designed path? I think not. Did God use Samson to help defeat the Philistines anyway? Absolutely. And he can and will use you, no matter how long and how far you strayed.