July 19, 2020

The Story of Samson: "Behold, a Child will be born to you!"

Scripture Reading: Judges 13:1-25
Welcome to a new study from God’s Word! Today we enter into the story of a judge named Samson. His narrative is a unique, self-contained unit within the larger biblical narrative that begins before he was born and it ends with his death. In between we read the tale of his unique life. It’s one that begins with great and high expectations, but ends in a combination of tragedy and triumph. So, what are we to make of this man named Samson and the life he once lived? How does his life speak to us today?

The life and times of Samson are told to us in an Old Testament book called Judges. This is a period of time in Israel’s history that takes place after the conquest of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua and before the monarchy that starts under Kings Saul and David. This is not a happy time for God’s people. In the time of the judges, the nation was constantly in turmoil, chasing after other gods and being oppressed by their enemies. If the book of Joshua shows the Israelites at their best, then the book of Judges is showing them at their worst. The book of Joshua is “happy, happy, happy” and the book of Judges is “crappy, crappy, crappy”. In the beginning, Judges 2:16 says, “The LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them.” At the very end of the book of Judges it says, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Samson is not born into a pious nation where everybody goes to church and serves the Lord. As it was since the day our first parents rebelled against the Lord in the Garden of Eden, humanity is rebellious and in desperate need of a Savior.

What is the name of the people who are oppressing the Israelites?
What is the affliction of Manoah’s wife and other prominent women in the Bible?

The angel announces to the woman in verse 3, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, BUT you shall conceive and bear a son.” With that, the gospel of Jesus Christ invades
the life of Mr. and Mrs. Manoah. The word “but” in Judges 13:3 is the exception, it is the word of grace coming into the life of this childless couple. You have no children BUT that will now change!
As we begin our reading of the life and times of Samson, it is important that we remember this is ultimately a Gospel Text. This is a Word that leads to Jesus Christ and the Gospel of Grace. Within the biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation, grace is always the gift, the surprise that reverses the way things are to the way they ought to be.

How is the angel’s announcement to Mrs. Manoah similar to the announcement of the angel to the virgin Mary?
Were the people of Israel looking for a Savior?

At the end of Judges 13, when a sacrifice is made (verses 15-20), the visiting angel who would not give his name to Mr. and Mrs. Manoah because it is “wonderful”, ascends in the flames of the sacrifice. Perhaps there is more to this mysterious visitor. S.G. DeGraaf in his book “Promise and Deliverance” says, “That man was not merely an angel; he was the Angel of the Lord. He was the Lord Jesus Christ. Didn’t he say that his name was wonderful?”
The Wonderful Counsellor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace, has come to set the world right. Samson is not this ultimate Savior. He is a sinner like you and me. If he is anything more than the sum total of his sins, this is to the credit of God who shows his grace. This grace is evident in his childhood. After he is born he is named Samson and verse 24 says “the LORD blessed him”. Samson is blessed by God for his calling. The Chapter concludes in verse 25 saying, “And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.” Those called by God and set apart for the Kingdom of God are filled with the Spirit of God. Where the Spirit begins to stir, good things can only follow.

Final Questions:
What is a Nazarite? What could someone under this vow not do?
Does Samson deserve his place among the list of those who “walked by faith” in Hebrews 11? Why or why not? Do we deserve a place among the faithful? If so, why?