The writer of Judges sets the stage in chapter 12 for the coming of Samson. Up to this point, judges led the nation for several decades and the peace that God brought through them would last for a generation or two. Now, Jephthah judges Israel for only six years (12:7) and three other judges (Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon) are only briefly mentioned in passing. Shorter reigns, greater idolatry, and national division all show how Israel’s covenant faithfulness continues to wain and their spiritual vitality continues to spiral downward.
Judges 13:7 – …the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death. Chapters 13-16 record the famous account of Samson, in my opinion, one of the most tragic figures in all of the bible. Samson is born to a couple who struggled with infertility (think Abraham and Sarah, Hannah and Elkanah, and in the New Testament, Zechariah and Elizabeth). Samson is the only judge who was set apart for this role from birth. He was specially consecrated to the Lord as a lifetime Nazirite. The Nazirite vow is recorded in Numbers 6:1-21 and was normally to be a vow taken for a temporary period of time. There were three specific aspects to the vow: 1) do not touch or go near a dead body; 2) do not consume any alcohol or the primary ingredients of alcoholic drink (grapes or vinegar); and 3) do not allow a razor to touch his hair. So how did Samson do. In Judges 14:6-9, he kills a lion and then pulls honey out of its carcass. In Judges 14:10, he prepares a feast for the young men of Philistia, The word feast here implies the consumption of alcohol (it was a drinking party). I wonder what he will do to his hair? Hint…hint…hint…
Judges 14:4 – His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. Samson’s desire for a Philistine woman was contrary to God’s instructions to Israel. His parents should not have allowed this and Samson certainly shouldn’t have pushed the issue. But again, we see God working in the background, even in and through the sinful choices of people. God intends to judge the Philistines and to rescue his people from their oppressive rule, and he will do it through a sinful man who makes first contact with the Philistines through his sinful desires and choices. I have mentioned this previously in my blog entries, but this is another example of compatibilism, the idea that God remains sovereign even over the free and sinful choices of men and women. God can and does use our choices, even our bad ones, to accomplish his purposes. Nothing is outside of his control and nothing will prevent God from working. We may not understand everything that God is allowing, but we can trust him to work out his purposes perfectly.
I hope you are growing in your love for God’s word as we read through the scriptures together. Keep it up! God will bless your efforts.