One of the idols of our day is personal autonomy and the belief that we are self-determined. We aim to create identities for ourselves, independent from all external authority and accountable to nobody but ourselves – yet at the same time demanding respect and celebration from others. One of the interesting aspects of Samson’s remarkable birth narrative is the declaration from God that he was to be a “Nazirite to God from the womb(13:5)” A Nazirite was one who took a vow of consecration to the Lord. In addition to the general laws of Torah, the Nazirite was called to: not go near dead bodies, abstain from wine, and never cut the hair on their heads (see Numbers 6:1-6). These were identity marks of the Nazirite’s separation to God. In Samson’s case, God himself imposed the Nazirite identity upon Samson even before his birth.
As we read through the account of Samson we find each of the elements of his vow broken: he scoops honey from the belly of a dead lion, drinks at a wedding feast (less explicit, but implied by the text), and allowed his hair to be cut. Surely, by God’s standards, a failure; and yet we find him in Hebrews 11 commended for his faith (more on this tomorrow). His life exemplified the nation’s heart: “everyone did what was right by his own eyes”, and thus his desire consistently outraced his determination.
Something to Apply:
I think, at times, we can all identify with Samson. When we struggle, one important question is how do you see yourself. We all cultivate and project personal identities. However, do you realize that if you are a Christian, God has already imposed upon you your true identity?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In Christ, we are adopted as sons by God – what greater identity could we ever hope for! However, with the identity of being a child of God comes the call to live “no longer for human passions but for the will of God (1 Peter 4:2)” Thankfully, we do this by the grace and strength he provides! (1 Pet 4:11).