We live in a world that turns everything backwards from the way God wants it to be. couples live together before getting married. Women get pregnant then decide if they want a baby. Lust precedes love. Youth is valued over the wisdom and experience of age. External things are worshipped and internal qualities and values denigrated. Self control, gentleness, submission and kindness are seen as weaknesses while assertiveness, self-centeredness and rudeness is valued. We admire physical strength, even worship it, but moral strength is neglected, mocked and ridiculed. What a time to live! What an immature age it is. Yet unfortunately there have been other times like this in history. Samson lived in one such time.
In a time of national weakness and turning from their spiritual roots, God sent an angel to a family in Israel to tell them that He was sending a deliverer to turn them from bondage to victory and from serving self and sin to serving God (Judges 13:1-23). Unfortunately the deliverer himself ended up in bondage, too — and that is our story, the story of a man named Samson. Samson was a man strong physically but weak morally. Instead of learning from his conquest, we must learn from his defeat. Still, many lessons are there to be learned for Samson was a man very much like men today and he lived in a time very much like today.
SAMSON’S YOUTH Samson grew up ‘different’ from other boys his age. For one thing, he was the only child of parents who had not been able to have children (thus we can assume they were older – Judges 13:3). In addition, he was raised by different standards, Nazarite standards of special devotion and consecration (13:7, 13-14). Even his appearance would have been different from other boys his age for his hair was never to be cut. He seems to have been spoiled, indulged, used to getting his own way (14:2, 3b). Even though they asked God how to raise him (13:8), it doesn’t seem they taught him control. Self-control and discipline weren’t built into him, perhaps because his shy, fearful (13:22) parents gave in to his wants knowing he was special. Add to that a special physical ability and strength (IF he had it even to some degree then) and we see that Samson didn’t have a typical childhood.
Reading between the lines seems to allow us to say Samson was sheltered, shy and self-conscious. He obviously had a problem with responding in anger and revenge. He seems to have had lots of time on his hands without work or friends to occupy him. That doesn’t mean that all who grow up that way will have sexual addictions, however. He had choices to make, some were good and others were very bad.
He did develop a personal relationship with God and accepted His gift of salvation, for we read that God’s Spirit started to “stir” him to free his people from Philistine oppression when he was a youth (13:25). He would have gone through bar mitzvah at about 13 years of age. I’m sure he was sincere in his faith, but a combination of personality traits and upbringing set him up for a severe test when he reached manhood. (CONTINUED NEXT WEEK)
PRAY: Ask God to help you make good choices in your life. If you are making choices that are not what God would have you make confess them and ask Him to help you do what you know is right.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available for free.)