Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 8: Tuesday
“For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite1 to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
The judge who looms large, to say the least, in today’s Bible reading of Judges 12–16, is Samson. Chapter 12 records several other judges, while four chapters are spent on the exploits of Samson.
Samson is widely known because his life is colorful and dramatic (Cecil B. DeMille put him up on the big screen with Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr, but I won’t vouch for biblical accuracy!). He’s another person in addition to Gideon whom I remember reading about as a child in the Bible stories featured in our newspaper’s Sunday color comic strip pages.
At the time of Samson, the Philistines had taken over Israel. If you go back to Judges 2:1–5ff (see especially 2:20–23), you’ll find God had told Israel that because of their disobedience He would not drive out all of the inhabitants of Canaan. In Judges 3:1–4, the Philistines are mentioned as being among those nations He left to test Israel. The Philistines had already oppressed Israel before the days of Samson, and they will continue to be a problem after him.
As you read about his life, it’s obvious from the beginning that Samson is an impulsive man ruled by his desires and his passions. He had great strength, but little wisdom. He falls prey, not once, but twice, to the guile of a woman, the most famous of whom is Delilah. He was used by God, however, to “…begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” Two instances are recorded in which he called upon God: once, when he had slain a thousand Philistines, and again at the end of his life:
Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.”
And with his death he killed more Philistines than he had killed during his life.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Samson: Public Domain.
1For Nazarite law see: Numbers 6:1–21.
F. F. Bruce writes that Nazarite “is a passive participle meaning ‘consecrated’ or ‘dedicated’.”
F. F. Bruce, “Judges,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds.,
A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 269.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter