Of all the judges in the book of Judges, Samson has the most press so to speak covering Judges 13 to Judges 16. His story is a living testimony to the freedom God can give an individual that he has blessed. Samson was give great strength in exchange for his being a Nazarite but within that confines Samson still finds ways to push God’s blessing by not being exactly the great standard of moral character. For the purposes of this study I want to break the study into three parts each covering a different phase of Samson’s life. Let’s start with his parents and upbringing.
Judges 13 is Samson’s parents receiving a visit form the angel of the Lord. The Lord first appears to Samson’s mother and promises her a child but gives very specific instructions about how she is to carry him and how he is to be a Nazarite from his mother’s womb. The Nazarite vow involves three things that the one’s making the vow must not do – 1) No consumption of any part of the fruit of the vine, 2) No touching of any dead body and 3) No cutting of hair. After receiving this instruction she goes and tells her husband Manoah. Manoah prays that God would come to him to confirm to him that this was true. The Lord does visit Manoah and also gives him the same instruction. They offer sacrifice and discover that the man they have been talking to is indeed the angel of the Lord, God himself. Manoah fears they will die but his wife reminds him that God would not have gone through all this trouble if he intended to kill them. They raise the boy as instructed and the Spirit of God begins to work in him.
First, there is no fate in this passage from an open theist point of view. God is approaching this couple in response to the fact that the Philistines are oppressing Israel once again. God is not offering a quick fix this time but to give a couple a child to raise that will eventually oppose the Philistines. Now this is once again not forced on Manoah and his wife. They actually have an out clause but Manoah’s wife simply picking up a bottle of strong drink and down the hatch. At that point the arrangement would be off. The question is how badly does Manoah and his wife want deliverance at this point? God of course does use some pretty spectacular things in the end to get their attention and bring his point home and he has chosen a couple that fears him. The fact though is that God takes a risk with this one as at any point the whole thing could be over the movement mom touches strong drink or Samson does or cuts his hair. God is once again asking that people be obedient and responsible to his wishes but he is not forcing those choices and the rest of the story will bear out.
This is the nature of covenant we have seen before. God never has initiated a one way street regarding a covenant. It is always a promise for Him to do something if the other party does their part. There is also a way out in every covenant on two levels. No person is forced to accept the covenant in the first place and the terms might offer a way out or conditions for God to do his part. If the person does not do their part, God is under no obligation to provide his promises.
Next: Samson (Part Two)