What an interesting set of chapters our reading today is! The beginning of the story of Samson is more than just a Hebrew Hercules tale; it probably has more punch per verse than any other story in the book of Judges.
Samson’ parents were childless, so they prayed to the Lord that they might be granted a child. The Lord answers their prayer with a thrilling “yes”, but there’s a catch. Samson’s mother, in return for this child had to live as a Nazirite (Numbers 6:2ff) during pregnancy and raise her son Samson as a Nazirite, which meant, among other things, that he could never cut his hair — that’s why he had the long hair and why it mattered later. But why make this stipulation for an answer to prayer? The text doesn’t say, but we could speculate that perhaps it was an attempt to get his parents to be a bit more disciplined in child-rearing; perhaps it was important for Samson to have a similar discipline for God’s ideal for Samson. Regardless of the real reason, the end result we find is not exactly what God had hoped for — he appears to be a rather self-willed young man with rather weak-willed, enabling parents. Have you ever seen situations in which a childless couple are finally blessed with a baby, that they turned out to be poor parents? It sometimes happens, and it appears to have happened here.
But God uses the good and bad to His greater ends and there’s a really interesting inspired remark about Samson’s petulant demand for a Philistine bride, “However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Now at that time the Philistines were ruling over Israel” (Judges 14:4, NASB). Here’s an important principle that Paul illustrates pretty well to young Timothy, “Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20, 21, NASB. We all will be used by God. The evil Assyrian Shalmanezzar and the evil Babylonian Nebuchanezzar were used without even realizing it. Saul of Tarsus was used once as an evil man, and then as a righteous man. And you will be used — but you get the chance to choose HOW you’ll be used. How are you choosing? How are you living? Are you choosing to be a cooking pot or a potty? Samson could’ve chosen to be used in a godly and heroic way, but God still used him even in some sinful decisions. How will you be used today?
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.