Samson: Set Apart
Today we begin a new series studying the life and work of Samson. Samson appears in Israel’s history as the last of 12 judges. The period of the judges lasted from after the conquest of Canaan until the kings. Roughly mid 14th century B.C. to mid 11th century B.C. from Joshua to Saul, Israel’s first king.
Unlike the other 11 judges before him, Samson’s story begins with an angel foretelling his birth. He was holy—set apart, specifically as a Nazirite, set apart from conception. His mom, from that moment on, couldn’t drink wine or any other alcoholic beverage, nor eat anything unclean. The idea being that if such things entered her body, they would be passed onto her son, in utero, and thus break the vow.
He is to be a Nazirite, set apart from birth. From that moment on, she wasn’t even to drink wine or any other alcoholic beverage, nor eat anything unclean. The idea being that if such things entered her body, they would be passed onto her son, in utero, and thus break the vow.
A Nazirite used no razor or scissor. It was an outward symbol of the inner vow, to be set apart for God’s plan and purposes. So then we have: an angel foretelling his birth, he would be filled with the Holy Spirit, no alcoholic drink or unclean foods, set apart for a specific task prepared in advance for him to do.
That reminds me of two others: John the Baptist and Jesus. Both births were foretold by an angel. John was filled with the Holy Spirit, even in the womb. Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit after his baptism. John the baptist ate locusts and wild honey (Samson also eats wild honey) John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
Samson’s purpose was to begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.
But why did the people need deliverance? Well, after Joshua and his generation died, God’s people forgot about God and the amazing things he’d done for them. They worshipped other gods. This was a breach of covenant. God disciplined them, as good fathers discipline their children. He caused enemy nations to rise up against Israel so that they would call out to God, repent and believe.
John the Baptist came preaching repentance. Jesus came preaching salvation through faith in him. Jesus saves people from the source of rebellion and apostasy. He saves people from that natural thing within us that always turns our hearts away from God. And he did it once and for all.
The Lord blessed Samson’s parents, allowing them to see him ascend into heaven in the flames of the burnt offering.
His name means “little sun.” He was an example of Christ who is the Sun of Righteousness. From an early age, the Spirit moved within Samson. It wasn’t continuous, the Spirit came and went randomly.
Samson’s parents believed the angel, and trusted him. Manoah prayed to have the angel visit again in order to know what to do with the boy. He needed to know what to do. God appeared again, and told him.
As promised, a son was born. They named him Samson, meaning little sun. He was an example of Christ who is the Sun of Righteousness. From an early age, the Spirit moved within Samson. The Spirit wasn’t always with him, nor did the Spirit lead him all the time. But the Spirit of God moved randomly, as like the wind.
Samson was set apart for the Lord’s work on behalf of sinful Israel. The Bible describes Israel as prostituting herself to other gods. She was apostate. But God is exceedingly gracious and loving. He is far more patient than Israel deserved. And so, at the right time he raised up Samson to begin the deliverance.
So too, at the right time God sent his one and only son, Jesus to demonstrate loving graciousness, by saving people from their sin. Jesus saves people from the source of rebellion and apostacy. He saves people from that natural thing within us that always turns our hearts away from God. And he did it once and for all.
If you believe in what Jesus has done, then you are set apart. You are set apart as having admitted your sin, believed in Jesus’ once and for all power to forgive you your sin, which he did by dying on the cross, bearing the punishment you, I, everyone deserved. And you set yourself apart by committing your life to him.
If that’s true for you, then you’re holy, set apart.
So what are we set apart for?
Turn to . We are set apart to prepare our minds for action. We are set apart for action. Samson, already at a young age, displayed God’s presence in his life, by demonstrations of power and strength.
We are set apart to be self-controlled. We too have the power of the Holy Spirit in us. This means the Spirit can and does work in and through us, just as he did through Samson. What is His plan for us? It is to do the work the Lord has called us to do.
In this morning’s Today Devotional, we read about Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well. When the disciples came back from buying food, they pretty much ignored her presence. The disciples were focused on giving Jesus his lunch—after all, that’s what he sent them to do.
But they couldn’t figure out what he meant by his next words. “I have food to eat you don’t know about… My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work... Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (, ). What he meant was, the Samaritan people needed to hear the good news as much as the Jews did.
Jesus’ work, the work we’re to continue, is bringing in the harvest, that is, those whom the Lord is saving. The disciples couldn’t see it because of their prejudices toward the Samaritans. They couldn’t see it because they were focused on doing the minor tasks God set for them to do.
Likewise, we can get caught up in being very busy for the Lord—getting lunch—that is doing specific tasks a specific way. And yet, totally miss out on the bigger job—seeking lost people in order to bring them to faith in Christ. We also may have prejudices toward people who do not yet know Jesus. If so, we need to pray, asking God to change our hearts so that we will be consumed with reaching anyone with the good news of Jesus Christ.
Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Be obedient children, not conforming to the evil desires that used to be natural, normal. Submit to the new desires given by God. Set yourselves apart. Be holy, just as God is holy, be holy in everything you do. We’re tempted to turn holiness on and off. We’re tempted to be holy on Sunday, and for the rest of the week live like everyone else lives. God sets the bar much, much higher.
Last week, I gave out a challenge. I suggested asking someone, a neighbour, a co worker, a fellow student, a waiter or waitress whomever, a simple question. “Are you a spiritual person?” I knew that as soon as I gave the challenge, I had to do it too. So, Thursday morning, I had breakfast with Pastor Kent from Green Valley Alliance Church. When I went up to pay, I asked our waitress, “Can I ask a personal question?” “Sure,” she said. “Are you a spiritual person?”
It worked! We were able to have a quick conversation about spirituality. She was open, even seemed touched that I asked. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Did anyone else give it a try? How did it go? I’d love to hear your stories over coffee.
God has set us apart to do the work he prepared in advance for us to do. In this short series on Samson, we’ll see how he did the work the Lord prepared for him to do. We’ll also see things about Samson that may make us wonder about the kind of people God chooses for ministry.
Trust God. Trust God working in you. Exercise your faith by being self-controlled, fully hoping on the grace given you in Christ, no longer conforming to the evil desires you used to have, being holy as the Lord is holy.
You are set apart. You are holy. We are holy, we are a holy church set apart for the glory of God. Together let’s do what God has prepared in advance for us to do: make disciples who make disciples. Amen.