Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Samson and the Philistines

"When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife” (Judges 14:2).

From the womb, Samson was set apart as a Nazirite. A Nazirite was under a vow to serve God with a peculiar singleness of mind. According to Numbers 6, the Nazirite was not to eat grapes or raisins and was not to shave the hair of his head until his vow was fulfilled. In the book of Judges, men took Nazirite vows as they went into holy war (Judges 5:2, literally: “That locks of hair hung long in Israel”). Thus, one aspect of the Nazirite was that he was a special holy warrior.

At this time, the southern part of Israel was under the domination of the Philistines. Unlike previous invaders, the Philistines were cultured and not terribly oppressive; thus, Israel relaxed under their domination and did not cry out to the Lord. Samson’s job was to stir things up, make it uncomfortable for Israel, and heat up the holy war.

The first thing Samson did when he came of age was to offer marriage to a Philistine girl. His parents thought this was wrong, but the Bible says that the Holy Spirit led him to it (Judges 14:4). Samson planned to use this offer of marriage to set up a challenge to Philistia. The marriage feast was hosted by the Philistines and one of their customs was to have a contest of riddles.

Now once when no one was watching, Samson had killed a lion. Later, he found honey in it and took some home to eat. He had kept this a secret. So Samson’s riddle said, “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet” (Judges 14:14). When the other men could not solve the riddle it appeared that Samson would emerge as the Riddle Master, scoring a victory over Philistine wisdom. But they threatened the bride, saying they would kill her and her family if she did not tell them the answer. She wept before Samson, so he told her the secret.

This was all according to Samson’s plan. Now the girl had a choice: Would she put her trust in him, who was powerful enough to kill a lion and wise enough to defeat Philistine riddles? Sadly, she made the wrong choice and told the Philistines Samson’s secret. Later, having rejected Samson’s protection, she died (Judges 15:6).

This story shows us that an offer of salvation is part of leaving this unholy world and living under God's reign. If the girl had put her trust in the power and wisdom of the Lord’s anointed Nazirite, she and her house would have been spared. Before you engage in spiritual warfare against our fallen society, make sure you are secure in your own salvation. Do not be so concerned with others that you neglect the destiny of your own soul.