From Deviation to Lostness
By Rev. Arnold Chow
Jun 19, 2022
Samson is the most famous Nazirite in the Bible. Judges 13 recounts how Samson’s parents encountered and experienced God and bore this child. Yet, they harbored some of the world’s deviations from the path of God. The result was that Samson, despite his mighty strength that could take on a thousand enemies, lived a life of lostness and failure.
Lost Identity: Ever since birth, Samson had been designated as a Nazirite. His mother had observed the rules for Nazirites since pregnancy. The angel of the LORD said to her: “Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean” (v.4). Now, the rule of not eating anything unclean is not exclusive to the Nazirites. It was an explicit command in the Torah for all people of God. Samson’s parents were unsure about the laws of God. It appeared that after the death of Joshua, generations of Israelites had increasingly been assimilated by the Canaan culture. They lost their identity of being set apart as holy. Today, do we insist on being set apart as holy?
Lost Family: The typical process for infertile couples to get a child in the Old Testament is like this: The husband takes the initiative to ask God for a child → The angel of the LORD conveys a message or God answers the prayer → The wife becomes pregnant and a child is born. Not so with Samson’s father Manoah. The angel of the LORD appeared twice to his wife. Manoah’s rash, foolish exchanges showed that he had no spiritual discerning ability and just “got up and followed his wife” (v.11).
Manoah should have been the spiritual head of his household but he did not fulfil his role. All his life, Samson was ungodly, he touched the red line and trespassed. He could not observe the three rules for Nazirites and even married Canaanite women. He followed different women all his life. Originally the spiritual head of the Israelites, Samson had not aptly fulfilled the duties of a judge. Who did he learn from?
Lost Faith: The Manoah family was a product of the loss of faith on the part of the Israelites. Manoah’s exchanges with the angel of the LORD time and again revealed that he was spiritually blind. He could not tell that the angel was from the LORD (v.16). When he found that the angel was related to God, he tried to use the Canaanite way of name enquiry to control the angel, pleasing the angel to his own advantage (v.17).
Scholars in recent years point out that it was highly probable that the name Samson was connected with šemeš, a sun god popularly worshipped at the time. It therefore appears that this family, which on the surface was the people of God, did not really know Him. The Manoah family was far from being godly. This couple saw the angel of the LORD appearing, experienced the miracle of a bestowed child, but saw no change of life. This is what God’s people who have lost their faith look like.
Brothers in Christ who are husbands or fathers, let this be our mutual exhortation: Do not allow deviations from the world which can so easily creep into our lives to make us gradually and habitually mistake the wrong for the right. Let us intentionally strive to be the spiritual head of the household. Let us re-cultivate the lost spiritual atmosphere in the family. And let our next generation live according to the will and calling of God so they will lead a victorious life.