And the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.…
It was a dark time with Israel when the boon of the future Danite judge was vouchsafed to the prayers of the long barren mother. It seems not unlikely that this may have been a part of that evil time when the ark of God itself fell into the hands of the hosts of Philistia. But there was a dawning of the coming day, and from this utter subjection God was about ere long to deliver His people. Samson was to be a first instrument in this work — he was to "begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines" (Judges 13:5). To enable him to fulfil this peculiar ministry, the possession of extraordinary physical strength, accompanied by an unequalled daring, were the special gifts bestowed upon him. These began early to manifest themselves. From the first they are traced back in the sacred record to the working of that exceptional influence which rested upon him as a "Nazarite unto God." In spite of actions which seem at a first glance to us Christians irreconcilable with such a spiritual relation, the occurrence of his name under the dictation of the Spirit in the catalogue of worthies "who through faith subdued kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions, escaped the edge of the sword, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of aliens" (Hebrews 11:32-34), establishes beyond a doubt the fact that he was essentially a faithful man. As we look closer, we may see that passing signs of such an inward vitality break forth from time to time along the ruder outlines of his half-barbarous course. Surely there is written large upon the grave of the Nazarite judge, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God." There are those in whom, in spite of remaining infirmities, there is a manifest indwelling and inworking of God the Holy Ghost — men whose lives are rich with the golden fruit of His inward life. Their life, without a word spoken, has an untold influence upon others. Be they young or old, they are God's witnesses, God's workmen. Far outside these is another circle. These are men of whom it is not possible to doubt that the Spirit of God "has begun to move them at times." There are plain marks of a hard struggle going on within them; more or less they are conscious of it themselves. The good they would they do not, the evil they would not that they too often do. Perhaps their youth is stained with something of the waywardness, the sensuality, and disorder which marked that of the Nazarite Samson; and yet there is another Spirit striving within them. What a strife it is! with what risks, with what issues! The master temptation of one may be to yield the Nazarite locks of the purity of a Christian soul to the Philistine razor of sensual appetite; to another it may be to surrender to the fair speeches, or perhaps the taunts, of some intellectual Delilah, the faith which grew up early in his heart; his simple trust in God's Word, in creeds, in prayers, in Christ Incarnate. "Trust to me," the tempter whispers, "this secret of thy strength, and I will let thee rest at peace and enjoy thy life in victorious possession of all that thy mind lusteth after." It is the old promise, broken as of old. Beyond that yielding what is there for him but mockery and chains, eyelessness and death? And yet, once again, another class is visible. There are those who, though the Nazarite life is theirs, show to the keenest searching of the longing eye no token of any moving by the blessed Spirit. In some it is as if there had never been so much as a first awakening of the Spirit's life. In others there is that which we can scarcely doubt is indeed present, active, conscious resistance to the Holy One. This is the darkest, dreariest, most terrible apparition which this world can show. Here, then, are our conclusions.
1. Let us use, simply and earnestly, our present opportunities, such as daily prayer. Let us regularly practise it, in spite of any difficulties. Let us watch over ourselves in little things even more carefully than in those which seem great.
2. Let us guard against all that grieves Him.
3. Let us each one seek from Him a thorough conversion. In this thoroughness is everything — is the giving the heart up to God, is the subduing the life to His law, is all the peace of regulated passions, all the brightness of a purified imagination.
(Bp. S. Wilberforce.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.