Lessons From the Life and Death of Samson

Judges 14

Judges 14:8–9, Honey out of the carcass. Although Samson’s parents followed the Messenger of YHVH’s instructions and dedicated him as a Nazarite (Judg 13:5), Samson was not a totally committed to his divine calling as a Nazarite; he played around the edges of obedience with regard to the Torah’s strictures with regard to the requirements to be a Nazarite (Num 6:1–22). 

An example of Samson’s careless approach to being a Nazarite includes his touching a dead lion carcass, and spending time in the Valley of Sorek (or grapevine), where he fell under the sway of Delilah (Judg 16:4ff). A Nazarite was to get nowhere near either a dead carcass or grape products (Num 6:3, 6). This teaches us two things. Samson’s parents chose his religion for him and dedicated him to YHVH’s service, and he begrudgingly went along with it, but he did not fully own his parents’ vision for his life; it was not his choice. The lesson here is that parents can raise their children correctly, but it is up to each child to embrace and then walk in the path they have set before them. Whether they do or do not, it is up to them to do so, and they will be blessed or cursed accordingly.

The second lesson is that because Samson had not fully embraced his divine calling as a lifelong Nazarite, he played around the edges of sin. Eventually, the sin sucked him into its maw, and we fell spiritually and suffered the resultant consequences of his bad choices. When we know to do right by giving sin and temptation a wide berth, we will be less likely to be drawn away and to fall to it. Samson failed to do this and the consequences for his life were disastrous. James the apostle has something to say about this.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by Elohim”; for Elohim cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (Jas 1:12–15)

Sadly, in many respects, Samson was a lover of this world more than a lover of Elohim. Because of his lust for women and giving in to the carnal desires of the flesh, his weakness resulted in his ignominious fall. Again James warns us,

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with Elohim? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of Elohim. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “ELOHIM RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Therefore submit to Elohim. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to Elohim and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (Jas 4:4–8)

Despite Samson’s carnal weaknesses and spiritual failures, he was still given a place of recognition in the Scriptures’ “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews chapter eleven (Heb 11:32). This speaks volumes about YHVH’s mercy and grace for those who act valiantly in service to his kingdom despite their weaknesses. James, again, speaks to us in this regard,

[Elohim’s] mercy triumphs over judgment. (Jas 3:13 cp. Pss 85:10; 89:14)

Judges 15

Judges 15:15, Jawbone of a donkey. Samson exercised resourcefulness and ingenuity and used what was at hand to fulfill is divine mission and purpose. In this case, he used the jawbone of a donkey to slay 1,000 Philistines, who were the enemies of Israel and the illegal inhabitants of the land that Elohim had given to the Israelites. We learn from this that if we want to be a profitable servant of Elohim, we can use anything at our disposal to help advance his kingdom. How many times have you heard someone say, I were rich, or if I won the lottery, then I would do such and such for the Lord? Frankly, this is often a cop out to excuse one’s failure in fulfilling one’s Christian duties and responsibilities to help advance the kingdom of Elohim. Such a person is actually burying their talents in the sand and is an unprofitable servant. No! Rather, what can YOU do NOW with the time, resources and abilities that you already available to you to “slay” the enemies of YHVH and to advance his kingdom?

Judges 16

Judges 16:20, YHVH had departed from him. This was a sad day in Samson’s life. How the mighty have fallen! Samson’s departure from YHVH was a slow and gradual process until found himself in a place of total compromise resulting in darkness and sin. YHVH had no choice but to abandon Samson, for he had totally given himself over to the world, flesh and devil. What’s sadder is that Samson was so compromised that he did not even know that YHVH had departed from him. He as that out of tune spiritually with YHVH that he had totally lost touch. This did not happen overnight. You see, people don’t just decide one day to abandon Elohim all at once. They little-by-little fall into sin and one thing leads to another until they are in total darkness. This is where Samson found himself very quickly, literally.

Judges 16:21, Out his eyes. Having fallen away from YHVH because he had given himself over to the love of the world, the flesh and the devil, Samson was now in a place of both physical and spiritual darkness. Long before losing his physical eyesight, he had already lost his spiritual eyesight. His physical condition of blindness was a result of his spiritual blindness. One’s physical state often mirrors one’s spiritual state. Not only that, Samson was now a prisoner and a slave to the false gods of this world to which he had prostrated himself. Anything that we give our lives over to other than Yeshua the Messiah will rise up and capture and then enslave us, and this will lead to our death, as Samson sadly was about to find out.

Judges 16:30, Let me die. Self-Murder (Suicide) or Self-Sacrifice Out of Love? Was Samson’s death a suicide, which is self-murder—something the Torah implicitly forbids? Let’s answer this question with a question. Was Yeshua going to certain death on a cross a form of suicide as well, or was it self-sacrifice to serve a greater spiritual purpose, that is, laying one’s life down for his friends (there is no greater love, John 15:13; cp. Rom 5:7)? In battle, if a soldier throws himself upon a grenade to save is comrades, is that suicide or self-sacrifice for a higher purpose? If someone goes into a burning house to save someone and loses his his own life in the process, is this suicide or laying one’s life down for a higher purpose? I suggest that we think of Samson’s “suicide” in the same way.


Natan’s Commentary on Jephthah and Samson

Judges 11

Jephthah—A Man of Faith From “the Other Side of the Tracks”

Judges 11:1–2, Was the son of a harlot. YHVH can raise up anyone to accomplish his purposes—even men of low degree. YHVH does not judge a man by his outward appearances, but by the condition of his heart (1 Sam 16:7). In YHVH’s eyes, what was Jephthah? (See verse 1.) Are there specters from your past that still haunt you and hold you back, or have you overcome them by the blood of the Lamb and assumed your new identity as more than a conqueror who is seated in heavenly places with Yeshua? (Read Phil 4:13; Rom 8:37; Rev 12:11; Col 2:12; Eph 2:6; for your inspiration and edification; also read Zec 4:6 and 1 Cor 1:27.) YHVH can take any vessel, no matter how average it may be, and elevate it for his purposes providing the vessel has faith and willingness to be used. In this way, YHVH and not man gets the glory. Will you be such a vessel in YHVH’s hands?

Judges 11:12, Jephthah sent messengers unto the king. Before going to war with the people of Ammon, Jephthah made every effort to diplomatically resolve Israel’s differences with that hostile nation. Armed conflict was still the result, and YHVH gave Israel the victory.

What can we learn from this? Yeshua instructs us to make every attempt to create peace with our enemies before resorting to legal (or in Jephtha’s case, lethal) means (Matt 5:25–26). When all else fails, if one is walking in the paths of righteousness, know that YHVH will back you when, as a last resort, you come to blows with your enemies.

In Scripture, there exists no prohibition against self defense. Some will use Yeshua’s admonition to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39) as justification not to defend oneself against an aggressor, and that somehow doing so will be a witness to one’s enemy of the love of Yeshua. Not defending oneself may accomplish this noble goal, but more likely the aggressor will view it as a sign of weakness to justify increased aggression against you and your loved ones. 

When Yeshua said to turn the other cheek what did he really mean? Was Yeshua justifying pacifism in place of self defense? According to Hebrew scholars, David Biven and Roy Blizzard, pacifism has never been part of Hebrew thought or culture. It is permissible to kill in order to defend oneself. The authors point out that some of Yeshua’s disciples were armed (Luke 22:38, 50), and that once Yeshua even suggested that his disciples purchase swords (Luke 22:35–37). When instructing his disciples to turn the other cheek, Yeshua was not talking about how to deal with violent aggressors such as rapists, robbers, or murderers, or when facing an enemy in battle. Rather he was talking about the fundamentals of brotherly relationship—how to relate to our neighbors. In other words, if a friend embarrasses us by slapping us in the face, we are not to slap him back, but instead to offer him the other cheek. This has nothing to do with a battlefield situation or when dealing with a violent aggressor. (Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, pp. 68–71). In other words, when it comes to offensive words or actions from brother in the faith, we need to let offences simply roll off our back, for love covers a multitude of sin (1 Pet 4:8).

Judges 11:29, Then the Spirit of YHVH came upon Jephthah. There are those who claim that the power and gifts of YHVH’s Spirit were unknown in biblical times prior to the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two. This is not altogether true when one considers this passage concerning Jephthah. What are some other examples of YHVH’s Spirit coming upon Israelites in the prior to the Pentecost? (See Num 11:26–27; 24:2; Judg 3:10; 6:34; 13:25; 14:6,19; 15:14; 1 Sam 10:11; 11:6; 19:20–24; 1 Chron 12:18; 2 Chron 24:20.)

Judges 11:30–31, For a burnt offering (KJV); or as a burnt offering (NAS, NIV, NKJV); or as an elevation offering (ASET). This doesn’t mean that Jephthah literally made a human sacrifice of his daughter, for this would not only have violated the Torah, but would have been subscribing to the most heinous and vile of heathen practices, that of human sacrifice to their gods. Not only that, the Torah made provisions for one who made a rash and illegal vow. It was considered a sin to so, and atonement could be made for it by making the required sin offering (Lev 5:4–6).

More realistically, Jephthah consecrated his daughter to YHVH for the rest of her life (like a Nazarite) to remain in a virginal state (which is why she bewailed her virginity and Jephthah had no descendants — a terrible price to pay for a rash vow, yet to Jephthah’s credit for keeping his vow to Elohim even to his own hurt —a mark of a righteous man (Ps 15:4; Heb 11:32). Perhaps Yeshua had this incident in mind when he instructed his disciples to not swear an oath at all, but to give one’s word only by saying “yes” and “no” (Matt 5:34–37).

Judges 11:30, Jephthah vowed a vow. Rash words (or vows) spoken may come back to haunt a person. Be careful with the mouth. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words there lacks not sin, but he that refrains his lips is wise.” Not only that, was Jephthah attempting to negotiate with YHVH? If so, was this a wise move? Does YHVH really need or want anything that we could possible give him in order to curry his favor? There is only one thing that he wants from us. What is that? (Read Hos 6:6; 1 Sam 15:22; Mic 6:8; Isa 66:2.) The heart of man is always the issue with YHVH! (See 1 Sam 16:7; 1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22.)

Judges 13

The Birth of Samson—A Mighty Man on the Outside, But Weak on the Inside

Ever since the death of Joshua and during the time of the judges the spiritual and moral state of Israel slowly declined until the time of Samson. As The ArtScroll Rubin Edition Joshua/Judges Commentary points out, ­Samson was a new kind of judge. “Up to this point, Israel’s sins would lead to foreign domination, followed by repentance and the emergence of a judge who would lead the people to defeat and expel the enemy. In this new period, the people’s descent was so serious that they did not merit a complete salvation of the sort that had been achieved by such judges as Deborah and Gideon.” Nevertheless, it was not in YHVH’s overall plan to let Israel’s enemies go completely unchecked so that the sublimation and eventual destruction of Israel would be complete. He used Samson to check the Philistines’ quest to totally subjugate the nation of Israel and to punish the former, while at the same time YHVH extended grace to Israel by relieving them of some pressure from their enemies (p. 195).

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