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The Life and Times of Samson: His Birth Part One

Rev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., January 21, 2018
Part of the Great Events in the History of Redemption series.

This coming Lord’s Day, as we continue on our walk through select sections of the book of Judges, we will arrive at the most famous of Israel’s judges, and one of the most well-known men in the whole Bible—the man called “Samson.” And in chapter 13 we discover the very beginning his story—what will prove to be the longest of the stories of any of the judges, taking up four whole chapters.

What most of us know about this popular Biblical character is that he was incredibly (supernaturally!) strong, and that somehow his extraordinary strength was connected to the length of his hair. And we also know that he was kind of a reckless man, not truly loyal to the Lord, one who hobnobbed with the enemy, married a non-Israelite (a Philistine woman!), and met his tragic end because he could not resist the seductive powers of that infamous and diabolically clever woman named “Delilah.”

But who was Samson, really? And why is his story so important, a fact underlined by the amount of verses and chapters dedicated to him in the Bible? And why—if he was such a reckless, undisciplined man, who was led astray by his sinful impulses—is he listed among the faithful in the New Testament Book of Hebrews, alongside noble men like “David and Samuel and the prophets” (Hebrews 11:32)? And the more pressing question would be, what can Samson’s life and times teach us about our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, and about living for Him in obedience, love, purity, and faithfulness–all the things that seem to have been missing from this man?

Well, believe it or not, the Holy Spirit has infallibly inscribed and preserved Samson’s story in the Bible because there is something for us to learn through him! He is, despite what we might think at first, and Old Testament ‘saint’ whose life and times prepared the world for the coming of our Savior and Lord—‘The Greater Samson’! As we prepare for worship and the preaching of the Word, let me encourage you to read Samson’s story once again as found in Judges 13-16. Our focus for the next two weeks will be upon 1:1-9, with special emphasis this Sunday on verse 1.

In this initial verse, that introduces the Samson episode, we discover something very tragic about the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel at the time this strong and mighty man appeared. Once “again” Israel has descended into the abyss of idolatrous rebellion against the Lord, and this is a refrain we have heard before. And, as we have also seen repeatedly, there are painful consequences for this sin: “so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.” However, there is something very different about this ‘cycle,’ and the evidence for it is discovered in this verse. There is something missing this time around, and the absence of it serves to confirm that the people of Israel have hit rock bottom, spiritually speaking. I wonder if you can discover what it is, something most obvious by its absence.

Judges 13:1-9

1And 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. 2And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. 3And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 5For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no rasor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. 6Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name: 7But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death. 8Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born. 9And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her. (KJV)