And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.…
1. Two things stand out in the narrative of Samson's career, as compared with the history of at least the majority of the other judges.
(1) The other judges fight God's battles with the people at their backs. They simply give aid and point to a sense of rising strength, of impatience of subjection, of reviving national pride and religious zeal in the Hebrew people. Samson, on the contrary, stands utterly alone, fights his battle single-handed, is supported by no enthusiasm for the national cause, and not even by common loyalty on the part of his own comrades.
(2) The other judges are chosen to their office as mature men, but Samson is set apart to his career as an unborn child. From his very infancy the sense of his vocation takes possession of him; as child and boy and youth it is making and moulding him, and preparing him for what he is to be. The explanation of these two characteristic features of his history, which distinguish it from that of the other judges, lies in this, that Samson's lot in life fell upon a period of utter national demoralisation. Israel had elapsed into subjection to the despised, uncircumcised Philistines. All national spirit was dying out, and the prestige of Jehovah was giving way before the prestige of Dagon. Now the only hope for the redemption of a society that has fallen into a condition of such lassitude, mental and moral, lies in the creation of a fresh and powerful personality.
2. How, humanly speaking, was Samson prepared for his work?
(1) To begin with, God made a cradle and a home for him. Samson's mother was a woman with a great soul and a large heart, to whom God was a reality; a woman who could not indeed fight God's battles and deliver God's people, but who lived with the upper storeys of her being in the unseen, and was possessed with a tremendous longing that there should be deliverance for Israel, that something heroic should appear in history, and that God should vindicate His might and grandeur above the heathen gods. Samson was born to a mother that longed for a boy, not that he might rise to comfort and ease, but that he might be lofty and heroic, and fight and, if need be, die for God and God's kingdom. To her son she transmits her hope, faith, and enthusiasm.
(2) From a little child Samson felt something mysterious stirring in his soul, ay, and in his physical nature. Samson needed extraordinary gifts for extraordinary work. He had, single-handed, by his own solitary prowess, to cow the Philistines and reanimate the courage of the Hebrews.Two things were needful for him:
(1) extraordinary strength,
(2) inextinguishable joyousness.To hold his own amid the abject depression of the people round about him it was essential that he should be possessed of exuberant mirth and jollity. It is the men that do the most serious and earnest work that can play and romp and laugh with their children. That is not the noisy laughter of the fool.
(3) Once again; it may be that asceticism is demanded for our age, just as Nazaritism was for Samson's. But that, remember, is the bad remedy of a still worse evil. Jesus Christ was no ascetic, else His enemies would not have published, as the likeliest scandal about Him, that He was a wine-bibber.
(Professor W. G. Elmslie.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.