OceanSide church of Christ
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THE LIFE OF SAMSON
Victor M. Eskew
A. The Bible is filled with many different characters.
1. These people were real. They were made of flesh and blood and experienced the same emotions you and I do (See James 5:17).
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are…
2. These individuals provide us with both good and bad examples.
3. In them, we often see glimpses of ourselves.
B. We are embarking on a study of “The Life of Samson.”
C. What do we know about this man?
1. He was strong.
2. He was a lady’s man.
3. He had long hair.
4. He was under the Nazarite vow.
5. He was a judge of Israel.
6. He had a wife named Delilah.
7. He committed suicide.
D. Samson has been called many things.
1. The Weak Strong Man (John G. Butler)
2. A Flawed Hero (Al Gluckoski)
3. The Man of Contrasts (Herbert Lockyer)
4. A Man Whose Life Was Wasted (Chip Henderson)
E. Samson occupies four chapters and ninety-six verses in Holy Writ. His life is recorded in Judges 13-16.
F. This is our introductory lesson. There are some things that we need to discuss before delving headlong into the text.
1. The Period of the Judges
2. The Nazarite Vow
3. Background Information
I. THE PERIOD OF THE JUDGES
A. Joshua was the leader of God’s people after Moses.
1. He brought Israel into the Promised Land and divided the land among the 12 tribes.
2. Joshua died at the age of 110 years old (Josh. 24:29).
B. Even though there was no single leader after Joshua’s death, Israel did well for a period of time (Josh. 24:31).
And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the words of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.
C. In time, however, things changed (Judg. 2:10).
And also that generation (the one that overlived Joshua) were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
1. Lesson: We are only one generation away from apostasy.
2. Lesson: It is imperative that this generation teaches the next generation about God. If not, horrible consequences are the result (Judg. 2:11, 13).
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim…And they forsook the Lord and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
D. Israel entered into a period of history wherein their experienced the same vicious cycle over and over and over.
1. The cycle:
a. Rebellion (Judg. 2:12)
And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked their Lord to anger.
2. Captivity (Judg. 2:14)
And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of the spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies.
3. Cries for deliverance (Judg. 2:18b)
…for it repented the Lord because of their groaning by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
4. A deliverer or judge (Judg. 2:18a)
And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge…
3. This cycle repeated itself some fifteen times.
a. The exact number of years is difficult to determine. It was between 400 and 450 years.
b. A list of the judges:
Othniel Abimelech Elon
Ehud Tola Abdon
Shamgar Jair Samson
Deborah Jepthah Eli
Gideon Ibzan Samuel
E. Samson was the 13th judge of Israel.
1. Judges 13:1
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
2. Samson was chosen to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines even before his birth (Judg. 13:4b).
…and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
II. THE NAZARITE VOW
A. God subjected Samuel to the Nazarite vow (Judg. 2:5, 7).
…for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb…for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
B. We read about the Nazarite vow in Numbers 6:1-21.
1. The purpose of this vow was to separate one unto God for a special purpose.
a. Separate (3 times)
b. Separation (11 times)
c. Consecrate (1 time)
d. Holy (2 times)
e. See Numbers 6:8
All the days of his separation he is holy unto the Lord.
2. Three major restrictions were placed upon one who took the Nazarite vow.
a. He could have nothing to do with things associated with grapes, including wine and strong drink (Num. 6:3-4).
b. No razor could come upon his head (Num. 6:5).
c. He could not come into contact with a dead body (Num. 6:6-7).
3. A man or a woman could take the Nazarite vow (Num. 6:2).
4. Most of the time, the vow lasted only for a period of a few weeks or months.
a. NOTE: Samson was a Nazarite for life.
b. One commentator states that this vow placed upon Samson was for the purpose of keeping him from spinning out of control.
III. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
a. Strong (8123): sunlight
b. BDB: like the sun
2. Samson’s parents “knew that he was supposed to be a bright ray of hope bursting through the dismal existence that his people were enduring” (The Samson Syndrome, Mark Atteberry, xviii).
B. He was from the tribe of Dan (Judg. 13:2)
1. Dan was the first son of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid (Gen. 30;4-6).
2. Dan was the second largest tribe after Judah (Num. 1:39).
3. The inheritance of Dan bordered the land of the Philistines.
C. Samson’s parents
1. Father: Manoah (Judg. 13:2)
a. She is not named in the Biblical text. The Babylonian Rabbis knew her as “Zlelponi” or “Zlelponith” (www.jwa.org/enclyclopedia).
b. She was barren (Judg. 13:2).
c. The angel of the Lord promised her a son (Judg. 13:3).
d. The promise came to pass (Judg. 13:24).
And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.
1. “Samson…was young, strong, good looking, cocky, courageous, and an incorrigible ladies man. He had a nose for trouble, a knack for hair-raising escapes, and more girlfriends than Radio City has Rocketts” (Syndrome, xi).
2. “’Samson the hero’ is what every Jewish child, the first time he or she hears the story, learns to call him. And that, more or less, is how he had been represented over the years, in hundreds of works of art, theatre and film, in the literatures of many languages: a mythic hero and fierce warrior, the man who tore apart a lion with his bare hands, the charismatic leader of the Jews in their wars against the Philistines, and, without a doubt, one of the most tempestuous and colourful characters in the Hebrew Bible
“But the way that I read the story in the pages of my Bible runs against the grain of the familiar Samson” (Lion’s Honey, David Grossman, p. 1).
A. Samson is a man who should be studied by all man.
B. Samson is a man who should be studied by all youth.
C. Samson is a man who should be studied by all women who seek to marry strong men.
D. One of the things that surprises us is that Samson is found in Hebrews 11, God’s “Hall of Fame of the Faithful” (Heb. 11:32).
And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson…