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Chapter 16: 19,20

16:19-20:"And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.

This text focuses on Samson, a young man whose purpose in life was cut short because he allowed himself to be separated from the source of his power.

Samson is heralded as the strongest man that ever lived. His feats of strength were unparalled. He picked up the gates of a city and carried them away. He caught 300 foxes and tied torches in their tails and loosed them in the fields of his enemies. He killed a lion with his bare hands. He killed thousands of Philistines, including one instance when he killed over a thousand using the jawbone of a donkey as his weapon.

He was born with a purpose and dedicated as a Nazarite. Israel was dominated by the Philistines and Samson was chosen by God to accomplish the great purpose of freeing Israel from Philistine Domination. He was consecrated by his parents before his birth to become a Nazirite. The Nazirite's vow had two forms. One was based on a vow by the individual for a specific period; the other was a lifelong devotion prompted by God making special revelations to the parents before the child is born.

Nazirite's were noted for three things. They never cut their hair, drank wine, and avoided contact with any dead things. These were symbols of their devotion to God. If, by chance, a Nazirite broke his vow in any way he was to generally shave his head for seven days and then make a peace offering before the Lord and begin his vows all again(Numbers 6:1-21). No special strength or power came from being a Nazirite. Any special gifts they exercised came because of God being with them.

Among the best known Nazirites of the bible are: Samuel (1 Samuel 1), John the Baptist (Luke 1:15-17) and Paul who took the Nazirite's vow for a short period (Acts 18:18).

Although Samson was a Nazirite, he did not live a devoted life. He was careless in his vow. He broke two of his vows frequently but guarded the third, intently, the cutting of his hair. Though he was dedicated to God, he show little more than ceremonial devotion to God. While he rose to fight the Philistines as a Judge or leader of Israel, each instance was really the result of his exploits with Philistine women.

While he had a huge physical frame, his actual strength came from the presence of God in his life. When he did mighty works, it was because God was with him. The less he allowed God to use his life, the weaker he became. His final downfall came when he became fascinated with Delilah. The lords of the Philistines offered her eleven hundred pieces of silver from each of them to find out the source of Samson's strength. Although she failed three times, finally, she coaxed the truth from him. As he lay asleep on her lap she called in the Philistine Barbers who cut off the seven locks of his hair.

He had broken his vows. Shaving his head was the thing to do, but he was in the wrong place for the wrong reason. He got the right cut, but was in the wrong barber shop. Samson was captured and blinded. On the day of his capture he rose to fight as usual but he "wist not that the Lord was departed from him."

While Samson killed many Philistines, he never accomplished his purpose of freeing Israel from domination. His dying act of faith displayed what he could have been, had he allowed God to use him throughout his life.

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