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The Restoration of Samson

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JUDGES 16:22

When a sinful failure occurs in our lives it is not the product of a moment. Nearly always it is the result of sinful habits in our lives which are the accumulation of years of obedience,

§         A great truth that God restores failures. But we are not necessarily restored to our original usefulness for the Lord.

  1. THE CONTEXT

1.        The Depths

The ironies in Samson’s life come to fruition: “he did grind in the prison house” [16:21].

§        טֹוחֵ֖ן  - “grind” [16:21], qal participle,

§        הָאֲסיּ֯רִֽים  - “prison house” [16:21], qal passive participle, ‘to bind’; ‘to tie up’;

a.        Control

A picture of how Samson was no controlled by the enemy: “the lad that held him…” [16:26].

§        הַנַּ֨עַר - “lad” [16:26], ‘youth’; ‘a child from any age through weaning into adolescence’;

§        הַמַּחֲזִ֣יק - “held” [16:26], hiphil participle, qal ‘to be strong’; ‘hiphil ‘to take hold of, to seize’;

§        נָתַ֨ן - “delivered” [16:24], qal perfect, ‘to give’; ‘to place in the possession or control’;

b.        ANE Custom

In Mesopotamia defeated enemies were often blinded by gouging out their eyes and then humiliated by being forced to perform the most menial of tasks, those customarily assigned to slaves and women.

c.        Israel & The Covenant Curses

This is the fate of the nation because of repeated rebellion:

§         The nation would be: seized, blinded, exiled, imprisoned, and humiliated with forced labour [Deu.26&28].

§         Samson is paradigmatic of the nation of Israel.

2.        The Philistine Celebration

a.        Dagon

The Philistines give glory to Dagon: “when the people saw him, they praised their god…” [16:24].

§         יְהַלְל֖וּ - “praised” [16:24], piel imperfect, ‘to shine’; ‘to extol the greatness or excellence of a person’;

§         אֱלֹהֵ֤ינוּ - “our god” [16:24], “Dagon” [16:23],

§         נָתַ֨ן - “delivered” [16:24], qal perfect, ‘to give’; ‘to place in the possession or control’;

§         מַחֲרִ֣יב - “destroyer” [16:24], hiphil participle, ‘to be waste’; ‘to devastate’;

b.        Samson

Samson is called to entertain them: “Call for Samson, that he may make us sport…” [16:25].

§         קִרְא֥וּ - “call” [16:25], qal imperative, ‘to summon’; ‘to call someone into one’s presence or give a task’;

§         ישַֽׂחֶק - “make us sport” [16:25], ‘to make fun of’; ‘to use for entertainment’; ‘laughingstock’;

i.        Samson’s Position

Samson is strategically placed in the gathering: “they set him between the pillars” [16:25].

§         יַּעֲמִ֥ידוּ  - “set” [16:25], hiphil imperfect, ‘to stand’; ‘to be in a particular stance in which the body is straight’.

§         הָעַמּוּדִֽים - “pillars” [16:25], from the root word ‘to stand’; ‘a cylindrical, vertical shaft used as a support for a roof or upper structure’;

§         The roof and upper storey of this large temple were supported by two cedar pillars slightly less than three metres apart set on round stone basis.

Application.

This picture raises the question whether Samson can come back.

§         Samson is here because of his worldly associations, his rejection of the authority of God’s Word, and his life being controlled by lust: “did that which was right in his own eyes” [17:6].

§         God has stripped everything from Samson’s life because of his behaviour: “he did that which was right in his own eyes” [17:6].

§         Samson is a victim of his own failures and, seemingly, Dagon’s superiority.

  1. SAMSON’S RESTORATION

1.        Samson’s Profession

a.        Samson’s Lifestyle

Samson had complete disregard for his divine calling and his Nazirite vow:

§         He disregarded the requirement to be clean: “he took the honey from the carcass of the lion…” [14:8-10].

§         He disregarded the requirement to abstain for wine: “Samson made there a feast…” [15:10].

b.        Samson’s Profession

When Samson came to Delilah all he had left was the visible mark of his vow: “there has not come a razor upon my head…” [16:17].

i.        Samson’s Hair

Samson’s hair was the visible mark that he was a Nazirite: “no razor shall come…for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb” [13:5].

§         The law of the Nazirite: “all the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor…He shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow” [Num.6:5].

ii.      Samson’s Weakness

Samson links his strength to his long hair: “if I be shaven then my strength will go from me…” [16:17].

§         When Samson’s hair was shaved: “his strength went from him” [16:19].

§         Samson gave his heart to Delilah: “he told her all his heart” [15:18], and then his heart was not with his Lord.

§         Samson’s strength was not in his hair: “Samson did not know that the Lord has departed from him” [16:20].

§         The loss of the hair did not in itself deprive him of strength; but the loss of his hair involved the loss of his strength, because it took from him the condition of a Nazirite, with which his extraordinary physical power were inseparably connected: “Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson…” [15:14].

2.        New Possibilities

The entrance of hope: “howbeit the hair of Samson’s head began to grow…” [16:22].

§         יָּ֧חֶל  - “began” [16:22], hiphil imperfect, ‘to bore, to pierce’; in the hiphil ‘to initiate a process’;

§         A new process has been initiated in the prison house at Gaza.

a.        Samson’s Life Story

The word “began” has been used by the narrator at key points in the Samson story:

§         Announcement of Samson as deliver: “he shall begin to deliver…” [13:5].

§         The stirring of the Holy Spirit: “Spirit of the Lord began to move him…” [13:25].

§         Delilah’s tormenting: “she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him” [16:19].

§         Now in the darkest pit of despair the word reappears to lift our hopes, raise our spirits, and create excitement at renewed possibilities.

b.        Samson’s Restoration

Visible evidence of a reversal in Samson’s experience: “howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again…” [16:22].

§         לְצַמֵּ֖חַ - “grow” [16:22], piel infinitive construct, ‘to have a living thing grow out of a source and so increase in size and length’;

§         כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר  - “after” [16:22], literally ‘like as before’;

§         גֻּלָּֽח  - “shaven” [16:22], pual perfect, ‘to cut off an object from a base’;

i.        Fellowship with God

His growing hair was a visible indicator that his fellowship with God was restored and growing.

§         Samson with Delilah: “shaved off the seven locks of his head…his strength went from him” [16:19]. An indicator that God had left Samson: “the Lord was departed from him” [16:20].

§         Now in the prison house: “the hair of his head began to grow again…” [16:22]; surely an indicator that “the Lord had returned to (departed from) him” [16:20].

Application.

  1. SAMSON’S PRAYER LIFE

1.        Samson’s First Prayer

From the story so far Samson has stopped to pray once: “called on the Lord…” [15:18]. 

Dependence upon God: “he…called upon the Lord” [15:18].

§        ar'q.Y - “called” [15:18], qal imperfect, ‘cry out’; ‘call attention to oneself’;

a.        Recognition of Role

Samson recognised his God-given role: “thou hast given this great deliverance…servant” [15:18].

§        ^D>b.[ - “your servant” [15:18], ‘to work’; ‘to be a slave/servant to’;

b.        God’s Deliverance 

His acknowledgement of Yahweh’s deliverance: “you have given this great deliverance…” [15:18].

c.        Personal Prayer / Dependence upon God

Samson’s dependence upon God:

§        Avert his own death: “now shall I die of thirst…” [15:18].

§        Avoid capture by the Philistines: “fall into the hand…” [15:18].

2.        Samson’s New-found Sensitivity

Samson is sensitive to the purpose of his divine calling: “He shall begin to deliver Israel…” [13:5]. “suffer me that I may feel the pillars…” [16:26].

a.        Positioning

Samson’s desire to be in the right position, having the right association, with the Philistines: “suffer me that I may feel the pillars…” [16:25].

§         הַנִּ֣יחָה - “suffer me” [16:26], hiphil imperative,

§         וַהֲימִ֯שֵׁ֮נִי֮ - “feel” [16:26], hiphil imperative, ‘touch with the hand’; ‘to handle or grope an object as a means of exploring one’s environment’;

§         אֶשָּׁעֵ֖ן  - “lean” [16:26], niphal imperfect, ‘to rest against’; ‘pertaining to being in a restful position’;

3.        Samson’s Second & Final Prayer

For the second and last time Samson prays: “Samson called upon the name of the Lord…” [16:28].

a.        Summons

Samson issues a summons to God: “called upon the name…” [16:28].

§         יִּקְרָ֥א  - “called” [16:28], qal imperfect, ‘to summon’; ‘to call someone to come into one’s presence’;

§         אֲדֹנָ֣י יֱהֹוִ֡ה - “Lord God” [16:28], ‘by beginning with adonay, “Lord”, he recognises God’s sovereignty over his own life.

b.        God’s Grace

Samson depends on the grace of God: “remember me…” [16:28].

§         זָכְרֵ֣נִי- “remember me” [16:28], qal imperative, ‘to take note of, to act on behalf of’; ‘to recall information or events with a focus on responding in an appropriate manner’; implies ‘prior knowledge and prior relationship’.

§         נָא - “pray” [16:28], literally ‘please’; ‘I beg’; ‘a marker of emphasis used to heighten the sense of urgency’.

i.        Samson’s Remembering 

At a human level the word embraces reflection, especially on what is in the past. Such reflection may lead to regret or relief, or more actively appreciation and commitment.

§         Times of God’s blessing: “Ashkelon…” [14:19]; “Timnath…” [15:3-6]; “Lehi…” [15:14-16].

§         Times of rebellion: “get her for me; for she pleases me well” [14:3]; “Samson went to Gaza, and saw there an harlot…” [16:1]; “Samson loved a woman…Delilah…” [16:4].

§         Samson’s life was a failure: “Samson went out as before…did not know that the Lord was departed from him” [16:20].

ii.      God’s Remembering

God’s remembering has to do with his attention and intervention in his grace.

§         Judgement in Noah’s day: “God remembered Noah…” [Gen.8:1].

§         Bondage in Egypt: “God heard their groanings, and God remembered his covenant…” [Exo.2:24].

c.        Dependence Upon God

Samson’s dependence upon God: “strengthen me, I pray thee…” [16:28].

§         חַזְּקֵ֨נִי - “strengthen me” [16:28], piel imperative, ‘to be strong’; ‘to have the ability to accomplish what is intended’;

§         נָ֜א  - “pray” [16:28], literally ‘please’; ‘I beg’; ‘a marker of emphasis used to heighten the sense of urgency’.

§         הַפַּ֤עַם - “this once” [16:28], ‘at last’; ‘once more’;

d.        Sensitive to Divine Calling

Samson’s prayer shows that he is sensitive to his divine calling: “that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines…” [16:28].

§         אִנָּקְמָ֧ה  - “be avenged” [16:28], niphal imperfect, ‘to pay harm with another harm’;

§         His divine calling: “he shall begin to deliver Israel out of…” [13:5].

i.        Samson’s Vengeance

Samson seeks strength so that: “I may be avenged at once…” [16:28].

§         נְקַם - “vengeance” [16:28], ‘singular vengeance’;

§         אַחַ֛ת - “once” [16:28], ‘single occurrence’;

§         The idea of legitimacy and competent authority is inherent in the root nqm. In the case of human or illegitimate revenge, the use of nqm is either avoided or this vocable is given a negative semantic value because it lacked God’s legitimation.

§         In the OT the concept of “vengeance” has a positive connotation, both from a semantic as well as from a theological point of view: “vengeance” has to do with lawfulness, justice, and salvation.

§         God’s “vengeance” in the OT can be described as the punitive retribution of God, who, as the sovereign King – faithful to his covenant – stands up for the vindication of His own glorious name in a judging and fighting mode, while watching over the maintenance of his justice and acting to save his people: “For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak” [Isa.59:17].

ii.      Samson’s Pain

The prayer shows how painfully he felt the loss of his two eyes: “for my two eyes” [16:28].

§         מִשְּׁתֵ֥י עֵינַ֖י  - “two eyes” [16:28],

§         The result of Samson’s sinful lifestyle was that he was made ineffective by the Philistines: “Philistines took him, and put out his eyes…” [16:21].

§         Samson’s growing hair shows us is that the consequences of sin are not erased. Samson grew new hair, but he did not receive new eyes.

iii.    Yahweh’s Vindication

Yahweh is the one who needs vindication: “our god has delivered Samson into our hand…” [16:23].

§         The victory song to the Philistines’ god is a taunt against and a challenge to Yahweh.

Application

At last he cries for help, responding to the personal crisis like Israel as a whole should have been reacting to their national emergency.

  1. SAMSON’S DEATH

1.        The Final Hour

Samson positions himself for the moment of vengeance: “Samson took hold of…” [16:29].

§         יִּלְפֹּ֨ת  - “took hold” [16:29], ‘to reach out and touch/feel in order to make sense in one’s mind’; ‘to grasp with a twisting motion’;

a.        The Last Request

Samson utters his last words: “Let me die with the Philistines…” [16:30].

§         תָּמֹ֣ות  - “let die” [16:30], qal imperfect, ‘put to death’; ‘pass into the realm of the dead’;

§         נַפְשִׁי֮ – “me” [16:30], literally ‘my soul’;

§         עִם - “with” [16:30], ‘a marker of an associative relationship’;

§         יֵּ֣ט  - “bowed” [16:30], qal imperfect, ‘to spread out’; ‘to stretch out’;

§         הֵמִ֣ית - “slew” [16:30], hiphil perfect,

2.        The Epitaph

The epitaph: “so the dead he slew in his death were more…” [16:30].

a.        Assurance

The assurance that God is faithful to his promises:

§         Samson was a man of faith: “What shall I say more? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson…who through faith…” [Heb.11:32ff].

§         Samson’s death was not a defeat: “slew more in his death…” [16:30].

§         Samson’s death is full of the grace of God: “thou hast brought my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive that I should not go down to the pit” [Psa.30:3]; “thou shalt compass me with song’s of deliverance” [Psa.32:7]; “no man shall pluck them out of my Father’s hand…” [Joh.10:28-29].

b.        Tragedy

The tragedy of Samson’s life: “slew in his death were more…” [16:30].

§         עִם - “with” [16:30], ‘a marker of an associative relationship’; with this utterance Samson declares his total and final identification with the enemy.

§         What a tragic inversion of the office to which he had been called. The Nazirite, set apart for the service of God, dies a seemingly defeated wreck of faith along with the uncircumcised Philistines.  

Application.

Samson’s life was a failure: “slew more in his death…” [16:30].

§         Samson is redeemed by the unfailing grace of God: “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? “[Hos.11:8].

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