Saturday, October 27, 2012

LXXIX - Judges chapters 13-14 - Samson

LXXIX  -  Judges chapters 13-14  -  Samson

After the death of Abdon, God delivered Israel into the hands of the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years.  That span of time would effect up to three generations, the youngest of which would know no other kind of life.  During this long and painful oppression, the angel of the Lord appeared to a Danite family, Manoah and his wife (the Scripture does not tell her name).  These would become the parents of Samson.

I've always considered Samson one of the more entertaining characters of the Bible.  Samson is the epitome of human weakness when it comes to the temptation of the flesh, which is exactly the reason for spending some time on studying his life.  Samson was a Danite, the son of Manoah.  However, it was not Manoah to whom God spoke, but rather his wife, Samson's mother.

Note in vs 2 that they lived in Zorah, only fifteen miles from the Philistine stronghold of Ekron.  Dan, if you look at the map, was a divided tribe.  Right before the death of Joshua, the Danites conquered a small section in the northeast side of the Jordan.  Although there were still many Danites in this area, it had come under control of the Canaanites, especially the Philistines.  Still in verse 2,  Manoah's wife, like many of the important women in the Old Testimant, was barren and was unable, up to this point, to have children.  As we have seen with Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Hannah, this was a grievous problem for a Hebrew family.  There would be no hier to carry on the family's name and bloodline.  Further, they believed that barrenness was a judgement from God.  (Gen 29-30) The Lord opened the womb, and the Lord closed it up.

Verse 3 - An angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah's wife and announced to her that she would have a son.  Several times thus far in our study, and several times yet to come we see that God sends a human looking angel to speak for Him.  This title of "Angel of the Lord" appears over a hundred times in the Bible.  (and how many of those times was the angel speaking to a woman?  interesting, huh?)  Verse 4 - The angel instructed her on how she was to care for herself during pregnance.  She was to keep two of the prohibitions of the Nazarite vow:  1) Drink no wine or strong drink; 2) Eat no unclean food.  In essance, she was to treat the inside of her body as though she were a Nazarite since she was carrying a baby who was to become a Nazarite.  Verse 5 - The angel told her that the promised child would be a Nazarite, which would explain to her the reason for the previous instructions to her.  A Nazarite is a person who, from birth, is dedicated to God for a special purpose.  {The full Nazarite vow is written in Numbers 6:1-21.  It includes four things:  1) A Nazarite would drink no wine or strong drink, which included anything fermented, 2) The hair of a Nazarite is never to be cut, 3) No unclean food is to be eaten, and 4) he is to avoid contact with any dead body, human or animal.}  Verse 5 also reveals the purpose of the Nazarine dedication of Samson, which would be to diliver Israel from the oppression of the Philistines.  The remaining verses of this chapter 13 tells of Manoah and his wife's dealing with the angel of the Lord, which you might find interesting.  The very last verse covers an impressive span of time.  It tells of Samson's birth and then how the Spirit of the Lord begins to stir within Samson when (I think) he was an adolescent.

Chapter 14 - The first verse shows us what we're dealing with in Samson the Nazarite.  It says he was in Timnah.  {What was he doing in Timnah?  Timnah was vineyard country.  As a Nazarite, he was not supposed to drink wine or eat any fermented food (such as raisins).  Then (same verse) he tells his father Manoah that he saw a Philistine woman he wants and demands that his father get her for him.  {Sounds very disrespectful and assuming.  Had Samson been told of his mission in life?  and perhaps thought he was beyond reproach?  or worse yet, beyond correction?  think on that.}  In verse 2 both of his parents appealed to him to find a Hebrew girl, either a Danite or a girl from another tribe of Israel.  But Samson would not listen.  He wanted that Philistine girl, and repeated his demand.  However in verse 4 the Scripture tells us that this was in God's plan, in order to give Samson inroads to the Philistines, who actually ruled Israel at this time.  Vss 5-6 tell of Samson being threatened by a lion.  {This is the first indication of Samson's tremendous strength.}  He tore the lion apart with his bare hands.
Verse 8  -  It says that "some time later", Samson went back with the intentions of marrying the Philistine woman.  {Note: this was NOT Delilah.  She came on the scene later.}  On his way he noticed the carcass of the lion he killed and that it had bees around it that had made some honey in the carcass.  So Samson scooped some honey from it.  {Now remember, a Nazarite is not allowed to touch anything dead.}  This might be overlooked, but we see in verse 9 that he shared the honey with his parents, but did not tell them that he got it from a carcass.  He knew this was forbidden and did not want his parent to know.

Vss 10  -  Samson (against his parents' wishes) went ahead and married the Philistine woman.  He held a feast to celebrate, and during this feast he made a challenge to the Philistines with him to solve a riddle (vs 14) "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet."  Samson placed a wager on this riddle, knowing it would be too difficult for these men to figure out.  So in verse 15, the Philistine men approached Samson's wife and told her to get the answer to the riddle from Samson or they would kill her father's family.  She immediately wept to Samson to give her the answer to the riddle, but Samson remained strong at first.  {she pulled the old "if you really love me, you'll tell me".}  But she pressed him for seven days until she wore him down and he told her, at which time she reported it to the Philistines.  They immediatly approached Samson with the answer.  In verse 18 we see that Samson knew they tricked him, as he responded "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle".  In vss 19-20 Samson goes to Ashkelon and sleighed thirty men to get their garments to pay his bet to the Philistines.  He burned with anger at the whole situation (he probably felt like a fool) and left his wife and went home to his parents'.  One would think he has learned a valuable lesson from this, but Samson is still Samson.

Next post  -  Delilah Comes on the Scene

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