And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.…
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Especially God teaches us by recording lives of men and women like ourselves, and leaving them there with their lessons staring us in the face.
I. Consider, then, HOW LOW GOD'S PEOPLE HAD FALLEN THROUGH THEIR UNFAITHFULNESS TO HIM, and their many departures, though they had only been a short time ago brought into a land flowing with milk and honey. Ammon, Midian, and Moab had all conquered them in turn. Now it was the Philistines, with a little country bordering on the sea coast, and with five chief cities, and yet they oppressed God's people! They would not let them have any weapons, and their very ploughs had to be sharpened at a Philistine forge. They constantly made raids upon them. It was a sore humiliation when Germany marched right up to Paris, dictated terms to the conquered in their own great Palace at Versailles, and made them pay heavily before they would go home. But suppose it had been Belgium! And yet Philistia answered somewhat to that: so low and weak do men become when they depart from the living God. But then it was that the Lord in wrath remembered mercy, and sent them Samson, a mighty deliverer. Deborah and Barak had delivered them before. Gideon and Jephthah had kept up the bright succession, and now Samson entered into it, and for a long time made the Philistines tremble. Never were such wonders known as he wrought, and the oppressions of the Philistines soon came to an end. O sunny, strong, stout-hearted Samson, how much good you might have done if you could have ruled yourself as well as conquering your foes! But there he failed, and so all was a failure. He was a Nazarite, and so never took any wine, according to the Nazarite vow, and yet he was completely overcome by the lusts of the flesh. It was not in vain that the net had been spread in the sight of the bird. He had seen the wicked Delilah and the savage Philistines spreading it together, and had been taken in it just the same. The same razor that cut his hair, the sign of his strength, could have cut his throat at any time. But for a few months he lingered on in penitence and prayer, whilst his hair grew once more — the sign, though not the source, of his strength. And then came a great day in Gaza, when they gathered to glorify their god Dagon in thousands. So with one tremendous effort of his new-found strength down came the columns, and down came the temple, and down came the people, and "the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life." So when they thought themselves most secure their sport was turned to woe, and in an hour when they looked not for it their destruction came,
II. But now let us look at SOME OF THE LESSONS WHICH THIS REMARKABLE STORY IS DESIGNED TO TEACH.
1. And the obvious one on the face of the whole narrative is the poor figure that mere physical strength cuts. There are three sorts of strength — physical, intellectual, and spiritual — and the greatest of these is spiritual. If this be lacking, the other two are of little use. Later on, Solomon was an example of how mental power is of little worth without true godliness. Samson is an example of great strength of body, but he becomes the fool and the plaything of wicked women. There is a great deal of attention paid to physical strength to-day, but it is a poor thing at the best. "Bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable unto all things." We may have very strong muscles and very weak resolutions, and when the greatest strength is secured it is very inferior to that of the gorilla. God only "began" to deliver Israel in Samson's day, it is significantly said. The real and effective deliverance came later on, when Samuel, the wise and the good, judged Israel for a long time, and David carried on his moral and spiritual reformation.
2. But, further, let us never rely on certain moralities if we are failing in obedience to God. Samson was not devoid of all spiritual strength. He was a Nazarite from his birth, and the vow of the Nazarite, of which he is the first example, included abstinence from wine and all similar drinks. There is a false sympathy as well as a true, and its influence is to misinterpret and condone evil. So we are perpetually told by a certain class of writers that Charles I. may have been a great public sinner, but he had excellent private virtues. He may have been, as declared in his sentence, "a tyrant, a traitor, a murderer, and a public enemy," but he was a good husband and a good father. He broke his coronation oath a hundred times, but then he always kept his marriage vow. He was an awful tyrant, but he took his little son on his knee and kissed him. He was a dreadful liar, but he went to the prayers in his chapel sometimes at six in the morning. So, well may Lord Macaulay exclaim, "If in the most important things we find him to have been selfish, cruel, and deceitful, we will take the liberty to call him a bad man, in spite of all his temperance at table and all his regularity at chapel."
3. Let us remember that the badge of our consecration is largely the pledge of our strength.
4. Yea, let the very Dagon worshippers teach us some such lesson. When Samson was caught, like some wild beast, they all gathered together to do honour to their fish-god Dagon. It was nothing to do with Dagon, but instead of honouring Delilah and the lords of the Philistines who had enticed her, they had a great assembly to do honour to their god. They said, when they saw Samson, "Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us." There was not quite enough of this in Samson, even when he had his strength. When he slew his thousand Philistines it was, "I have done it." Yes, we may often learn from those that have not our light. The Mohammedans believe many a lie and strong delusion, but this is what Mr. Wilson says of them in "Uganda and the Egyptian Soudan": "These Arabs are most regular in performing their devotions, even on the march. I noticed frequently sand on their foreheads, chins, and noses, from their prostrations during prayers. The sand is never wiped off, as it is considered a mark of honour on a believer's face." Oh, let us keep before us the true mercies and blessings of the true God, and pay our vows unto the Most High!
(W. J. Heaton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.