Judgesby Gary Inrig
Samson is a man who is a law unto himself, who believes that he is the exception to any rule. In that way, he is a living illustration of the spiritual anarchy of his people, and that attitude will bring him to a premature death. All through this chapter, he toys with the vows that set him apart.
First, along the way to Timnah, he becomes separated from his parents and finds himself in a vineyard (Judges 14:5). That should have raised an alarm, since a Nazirite was to abstain from anything that comes from the grapevine (see Numbers 6:1-4). There, he meets a lion and tears it apart (Judges 14:6). But he chooses not to tell his parents about it. Why the secrecy? Was it because killing violated the Nazirite prohibition on contact with the dead (see Numbers 6:6-7)?
On a return trip, he intentionally visits the scene of his battle with the lion. This is a blatant breach of his vow to avoid contact with the dead, further compounded when he eats the honey from the carcass (Judges 14:8-9). At his marriage to the Canaanite woman, he throws a seven-day feast-a drinking party (v. 10). While such feasts were customary, we could ask: why would a Nazirite host a party serving wine from the vineyard? The only positive thing to be said for Samson in this entire episode is that he honours the bet on his riddle, although in a brutal way (vv. 12-17, 19). What is unexpected is that the power to do this is attributed to the Holy Spirit, who ″came powerfully upon him″ (v. 19). Whatever we make of the morality of Samson's actions, we see in verse 4 that God is at work in all these things to bring about the deliverance of His people.
The Lord did not direct Samson into disobedience or immoral actions. But He was at work through Samson, accomplishing His plans through this very unworthy instrument. We cannot escape responsibility or accountability for our sins, but in the providential purpose of God, it is His intentions that triumph.
A few years after Samson's death, another man became the judge of Israel. Like Samson, he was born under a vow. But while Samson neither liberated his people nor turned their hearts to God, Samuel changed the course of Israel's history. Every area of life in Israel was touched for good through the life and ministry of Samuel. What was the difference? It is found in 1 Samuel 15:22, in Samuel's words: ″Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.″
Samson may have fulfilled God's purpose, but sadly, he never understood obedience to God.
Why do you think God prefers obedience to sacrifice?
How can you live a life of consistent commitment to God's authority and self-discipline that brings all of your life under the lordship of Jesus Christ?