We are about to enter a study on the life of a very interesting character, Samson. The stories about this man are some of the strangest in the Bible! On one hand, God uses Samson to do some pretty amazing things to deliver the Israelites from their arch-enemies, the Philistines. On the other hand, Sampson makes some pretty stupid choices and fails in a huge way.
Samson’s birth was very special, much like the birth of Samuel, Jacob, and Jesus. An angel of the Lord appeared to his parents and told them they would have a child that would be a special part of God’s plan. They were to make the child a Naziritie. A what? To understand this you must understand God’s commands and instruction in Numbers 6. In Numbers 6, God gives His people a way for individuals to make a special commitment to God to be separate and different, set apart for His purposes. The vow of the Nazirite was a vow that someone would take for himself or his child that separated them for God’s plan and purpose alone. The vow consisted of three commitments. First, the Nazirite would abstain from wine, or anything that could intoxicate. Second, the Nazirite would never cut his hair as long as he was under the vow. This was a visible sign of his commitment to God. Third, the Nazirite would never go near a dead body, not even that of a family member. In the Old Testament law, going near a dead body would leave a person ceremonially unclean, and unable to worship. All this may seem weird, but keep this in mind. To take the vow of a Nazirite was to surrender the life of yourself or your child’s life in a way that was very special to God and that he was going to be set apart for God’s purpose and plan, period.
God himself, appeared to Samson’s parents, and let them know that Samson was going to be a special person, set apart for God’s plan. God had chosen Samson to be the deliverer of His people, a reminder that the Bible is about the sovereign work of God, not the goodness of people. His parent’s response is terrific. They wanted to know everything they could about raising this child as God intended. In Judges 13:8, Samson’s father prayed and asked that the angel would return and teach them how to be good parents and help their son be everything God wanted. And God did use him. But you will also see that all the good parenting in the world was not enough when Samson was tempted.
The night before my son Andy was born, I had a very special time with God. Heidi was going to be induced into labor, so she and I knew that Andy would be born the next day. I imagined what it must have felt like for God to know when His Son was going to be born. I prayed about being a dad, and about having a son, and about what he would be like. I also prayed that God would make Andy special in God’s plan, and use us to train him to be everything God wants him to be.
Being a parent can be tough. When you were a baby, your parents, if they are Christians, probably had similar prayers. They probably dedicated you to the Lord. If you are a a parent who loves Jesus, you probably find anguish in your soul as you pray for your kids asking God to protect them and give them a love for Jesus that is deep and transforming. Parents want the very best for their kids, and their desire should be for them to be all God intended for them to be. But there is also a point where a person must find their own faith and follow Jesus for themselves. Samson is God’s chosen, and his parents pursued God, but the path Samson takes does not go well.
So two quick applications. First to all of us. Your parents may or may not have been believers. They may have prayed deeply for you, or may have led you away from God. Either way, the challenge of the Samson story is that we take care not to follow the same path as he did. Now for parents. Pray for your kids, train them to love Jesus, passionately teach them the Scriptures. But this is not a guarantee, so in the end, you must trust God to work in your kids. And if a child strays from the faith, don’t give up, keep seeking God on their behalf. God will be faithful.