Friday, June 15, 2007

Samson destroys the Temple killing many Philistines in the process.
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Samson's Purpose

Just as God had a specific purpose for Samson’s life, he has great plans for our lives to and we have been set aside for a specific purpose. (Jer. 29:11)

Samson’s downfall was not sudden, and he didn’t see it coming – even though reading the story now, one wonders how he could not have seen it coming. However let us not be too hard on the guy. Sometimes we behave inappropriately, thinking we have the situation under control and that we “know what we are doing. We disregard the advice of well meaning brothers or sisters in the Lord, and get further and further into trouble and all of a sudden we realise we are not in control, and that this thing has got control of us. Just as the Philistines eventually got control of Samson. I think that Samson began to believe that all this strength was his own, but he forgot it was only be the enabling of the Holy Spirit, that he had the strength he had. However he began to use it in ways that were not godly, and one day, when he needed it most, his strength left him, because God had left him.

We need to be particularly aware of our weaknesses. A weakness in this sense is the area in which we are most susceptible to temptation. The truth is, we all have Achilles’ heels, areas that are more susceptible to temptation. By becoming aware of this area, we can go to other brothers or sisters in Christ and make ourselves accountable to them. This is a difficult step to take, because we like people to believe we have it all together. The reality may be different. I’m not saying bear your soul to the world, but at least talk it through with another Christian and ask him or her to help you in that area.

When temptation comes – GO! Flee, run away (literally if necessary). When Joseph was lured by Mrs. Potiphar, he fled. But Samson, rather enjoyed the attention of beautiful Delilah. The problem was Delilah’s beauty was only skin deep.

It surprised me to read the words “I have been … separated to God..” in Samson’s admission to Delilah – surely they should have rung a bell in his head saying – Hey, I shouldn’t be here with Philistines – I am separated to God! He knew that he had been separated to God, and yet he kept going back to Delilah. It was his undoing, but again, I say let us not be too quick to judge him. We know we are separated to God, and yet, how often do we blow it, and turn our back on Him because something else attracts our attention.

Have you worked out which New Testament person I was talking about?(Two weeks ago) John the Baptist was the man.

Both Samson and John the Baptist:

  • were born to women who could not naturally have children (miraculous conceptions)

  • were born as Nazirites, with specific purposes. (Both purposes involved starting something that would be finished by another.)

  • An angel appeared to a parent of both of them before they were born. (Samson's unnamed mother, John the Baptist's father)

  • spent time in prison and died in captivity.

  • their fathers offereda sacrifice to the Lord when they heard about the birth of their sons.

I said this was to be a trilogy, but Irealise that there remains one more homily in this story (actually there must be thousands more, but for my puposes I will only give one!) Watch this space next week!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Let us look back at the birth of Samson. Interestingly, his mother was sterile, and a child could not be conceived in her womb. An angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son, now see to it that you do not drink any wine or fermented drink and that you do not drink anything unclean because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head because he is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God since birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:1-5)

There are some interesting parallels between Samson and a certain New Testament person. Do you know who I am thinking of? However, I don’t want to get sidetracked now.

The Nazirite vow, was a vow was for any person who wanted for specific period to “separate themselves” to the Lord. There were some special requirements for this vow.
No alcohol or grapes in any form. Not even raisins.
No haircut. A razor was now to come near the head.
No contact with corpses. (I’m not sure if this is referring to any type of corpse – in which case Samson blew it long before he met Delilah – remember the famous riddle? – or whether it was only human corpses)
Now, bear in mind that for most this was a voluntary action undertaken by Jews who chose to separate themselves to God for a specific period. But in the case of Samson, and our mystery New Testament person, they were Nazirites from birth – no conception.

For those Christians who view the developing embryo as merely a piece of tissue, in the mother, that can be disposed of if it becomes an inconvenience, this verse (Judges 13:4) should give pause for thought. Also, for expectant mothers who consume alcohol or smoke during the pregnancy, here is biblical proof that what a person consumes when she is pregnant can affect the babies development. Samson was to have no contact with wine or grape, even from BEFORE his birth.

The point was that Samson was set apart to God. These things, no alcohol, no razors, no corpses, were merely the things that marked out the Nazirite. But the key was that they were set apart to God.

People use different expression to describe becoming a Christian. The most common and widely known is “born-again” but another expression that people use is “I have committed my life to Christ.” Well, it is debatable as to how literally we mean that, but the point is, that becoming a Christian is in some sense similar to taking the Nazirite vow. We are separating ourselves to God for rest of our lives. Thankfully we can still enjoy a glass of wine (provided we don’t enjoy too many) and the occasional trip to the barber (or hair-stylist!!) for a trim, or a short-back and sides, is quite in order, and though it is something I would prefer to avoid, coming in contact with a corpse will not cancel my Christianity. But there are things that mark us out as separate from the world. No we do not have to enter a monastery (or convent). On the contrary we are called to go into ALL the world and preach the Gospel. When non-Christians look at us, they should be able to say to themselves, “There’s something different about that fellow or that lady.”

Saturday, June 02, 2007

This month, I have written a trilogy. I have written it in one sitting, but realizing that as is usual style I have written way too much. To spare your eyes and also make sure you read it all, I have broken it into three sections, which I will post once every Saturday until it is all there.

“No razor has ever been used on my head, because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth…”

Pop quiz – who said that? Did you say Samson, well done. (I sound like “school of the air”) Yes, Samson uttered these fateful words when he betrayed himself to the object of his desires, Delilah.

Reading the story this evening, I had to ask myself what is with this guy? He is attracted to this beauty, Delilah. Well, who can blame the guy. She was evidently very attractive. But her behaviour, wasn’t exactly on the level. She wants to know the secret of his great strength, and well, the first time, he was bright enough to spin her a yarn about being tied up. She buys it, and spills the beans to the philistines who waste no time in filling the order for fresh thongs that have not been dried. He’s woken by Delilah announcing the the Philistines have got him, and lo and behold, he’s bound by the very thing that he confided in Delilah that would sap his strength. Now, in typical fashion he snapped those cords like they were cotton thread and proceeded to deal with the Philistines.

Surely, Samson would have put two and two together. Well if he did, he got the answer three. Instead of clearing out of Delilah’s pad pronto, we see Delilah having another go. Well he gives her a story about new ropes. Then he wove a story about putting seven braids of his hair on a loom. (Boy that guy must have been a sound sleeper – or maybe he had no feeling in his head!) Notice how each lie came closer and closer to the truth.

Delilah’s persistence paid off and Samson cut to the truth. After explaining that he had never been to a barber, he explained that if he did have a trim, it would weaken him, and this time Delilah realised that this was the real deal, and so that night she arranged for the local barber to crop his locks (give him a haircut).

Waking up, the Bible tells us Samson thought, “Here we go again,” thinking that he’d duff up those thugs and send them packing again, only this time, he somehow couldn’t muster the usual strength. And so began the downfall of Samson. You can read what they did to Samson and how everything came crashing in on Samson’s head (including a few rather surprised Philistines.)
Was Samson’s strength directly related to the length of his hair? I have always thought so, but in reading this, this evening, I see two clues that suggest to me, that it wasn’t about his hair.

The first thing, Samson said, “I have been a Nazirite, set apart to God since birth.”

Secondly, when he is attacked for the FOURTH TIME, he jumped up, and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” BUT HE DID NOT KNOW THAT THE LORD HAD LEFT HIM.

Congratulations to my parents on the occasion of their Golden Wedding! I love you both, and am very proud of you.