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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Portraits of Christ

Don Smith :: Jdg 13; Samson the Promised Deliverer

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Portraits of Christ
“Samson, the Promised Deliverer” (Judges 13)

The Lord delivered Israel over to the hands of the enemy. (Judges 13:1)

  1. Israel continually did evil in the eyes of the Lord.
    • The times of the Judges (350 years) was characterized by seven cycles or generations of national apostasy. (Judges 10:6-7; 17:6)
    • “Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him. So the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon.” (Judges 10:6-7; 13:1)
    • “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6)
  2. Israel’s downfall through the years.
    • Generational Entitlement: New generations were born that knew not the Lord nor appreciated His past works for their nation.
    • Fragmented National Identity: The nation was no longer defined by borders, culture and language.
      • The Temple was no longer the center of national life.
      • The Philistines spoke Hebrew.
      • The borders were wide open.
    • Moral Relativism: Intermarriage with idolaters and confusion over moral absolutes.
      • The Philistines had cultural and sensual appeal.
      • The Philistines did not share the spiritual heritage of Israel.
    • Political Compromise and Demagoguery: Politics did not serve the best interests of the nation and it lost its heart to fight for what is right. (Judges 8:33-35)
      • Israel accommodated their oppressors to find acceptance and prosperous.
      • Philistine rulers dominated the market place, trade routes and manufacturing.
      • Philistine rulers prohibited Israel from making and bearing arms. (1 Samuel 13:20-22)
      • Israel failed to honor and show kindness to their leaders.
    • The Deception of Pragmatism: The Philistines offered prosperity gods and gospels for a poor agrarian populace.
      • Their designer god, “Dagon” (Hebrew for “Dear-Fish” a half-fish, half man) was there for the people to make them prosperous.
      • Dagon was like a fertility god who offered the hope of bountiful crops.
      • Idolatry tapped into the hard work ethic of the people trying to make a living from the soil.
  3. The Lord delivered Israel over to the hands of the Philistines. God did not drive out Israel’s enemies.
    “They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way. Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, ‘Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.’ Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out immediately; nor did He deliver them into the hand of Joshua.” (Judges 2:19-23; Judges 3:1-4)

God tested Israel to expose their utter weakness apart from faith in God.

  • Samson was a living example of Israel’s real strength (faith and purity) and their national weakness (sin, idolatry and adultery).
  • Unlike previous dark days in Israel, there was a strange silence, no cry to the Lord of repentance or for deliverance. God took the initiative (1 John 4:10).
  • The Philistines ruled Israel for forty years.
  • Their defeat began with Samson and was completed by Samuel and King David.
  • The origin of the Philistines (the Sea People) seems to be associated with Egypt.
  • Symbolically, Egypt has stood in the Bible for the world and its godless values.
  • Perhaps the greatest sign of a nation’s spiritual condition leading to disaster is the silence of God’s people against the evil in the world and in the household of God.
  • Where there is compromise with sin, sorrow is soon to follow!

The Lord promised to give Israel a Deliverer. (Judges 13:2-23)

  1. In God’s providence there was a godly husband and wife without a child. (Judges 13:2)
    • The phrase “a certain man or woman” throughout the Bible indicates God’s providential hand upon them to accomplish His divine purposes.
    • This “certain man” of Zorah named “Manoah” was from the Tribe of Dan.
    • A small remnant of Dan’s tribe were allowed, by Joshua, to dwell in a small region belonging to Judah (a small area named “Zorah,” 14 miles west of Jerusalem), while the rest of the tribe moved to northern Israel. (Joshua 15:20, 33; 19:40-41)
    • “Manoah” means “rest”— as God’s deliverer would come out of Noah, bringing rest. (Genesis 5:29)
    • His wife, like so many other barren women recorded in the Bible, no doubt felt the sting of infertility—bearing the stigma of rejection and suspicion.
    • God blessed barren women in the Bible: Sarai, Rebecca, Hannah, and Elizabeth, to demonstrate the all-surpassing power of His Word and Spirit to fulfill His promises and to expose the weakness of human flesh to accomplish them.
  2. The birth of the Deliverer was announced by the Angel of the Lord. (Judges 13:3-5)
    • “The Angel of Jehovah,” the messenger of the Covenant, was a theophany or pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ.
    • He was the visible manifestation of the invisible God—even as Christ.
    • He spoke in the first-personal singular, showing authority.
    • He appeared in Biblical history as the Divine messenger of promise, judgment, guidance and protection.
    • He was the same one who appeared to Abraham and Sarah, Moses in the burning bush, and Joshua before the gates of Jericho.
    • His prophetic promise was the birth of “a son” like that announced to Joseph and Mary. (Matthew 1:21)
    • The Lord awakened human weakness (barrenness) in the woman, to show His power to accomplish more than she could ever think or believe—a Son, a Deliverer.
    • He charged the woman to set herself apart unto God to fulfill His divine purpose.
    • Consecration is often God’s prerequisite to realize His promises. (Joshua 3:5)
    • For a woman who seeks to be a godly mother, she must prepare in early pregnancy to be spiritually and physically consecrated to God.
    • She was to accept the Nazarite vow (temporarily in her life for her Son, Who would be born a Nazarite) that required dietary restrictions: “Be careful not to drink wine or similar (fermented) drink and do not eat anything unclean.” (Judges 13:4)

The Bible gives several examples of those who voluntarily took the vow of a Nazarite.

  • Guidelines for this were given in Numbers 6:1-21.
  • The Apostle Paul seems to have taken a Nazarite vow before going to Jerusalem, but it was a preparatory vow for God’s service. (Acts 21:26)
  • Being pregnant with a Nazarite son, Manoah’s wife also had to become a Nazarite to God.
  • The Angel of the Lord set Mary’s son apart in the womb for God’s holy purposes.
  • Her son, like Samuel and John the Baptist, was set apart to be a Nazarite for life.
  • Christ was not a Nazarite, but was the perfect one separated by birth from all sin (Hebrews 7:26)
  • Samson was a Nazarite by the initiative of God, not by his own will.

His life was to be distinctively, observably separated unto God in three ways:

  1. “No razor was to come upon his head.”
    • It was an outward sign of an inward reality that God was the ultimate authority of his life. (Numbers 6:5)
    • It was an outward sign of God’s providence in his life. (Matthew 10:30)
    • It was an outward sign of God’s blessing and strength. (Numbers 6:17)
    • It was an outward sign of the whole body being a living sacrifice to God. (Romans 12:1)
    • It was an outward sign of his willingness to honor God while being dishonored by man. (1 Corinthians 11:14)
  2. “He shall not drink wine or any fermented drink.”
    • It was a sign that he was to be filled by the Holy Spirit’s power and not be drunk or influenced by the strength of wine. (Ephesians 5:18)
    • It was a sign of spiritual consecration that God was his ultimate pleasure in life.
  3. “He was not to eat or touch anything unclean”—“a dead soul” was generally used of people not animals. (Numbers 6:6; Leviticus 21:11)
    • It was an outward sign of having no fellowship with the works of darkness. (Ephesians 5:11, 14; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
    • It was an outward sign of his willingness to follow God above all others. (Matthew 8:21-22)
    • The promised son was to be the one who would “begin” to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
    • What he began, Samuel and David would complete.
    • Christ, however, is the “Author and the Finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)
  4. Manoah was blessed having not seen, but believing. (Numbers 6:6-8)
    • His wife didn’t know if she encountered a “man of God” or “the Angel of the Lord.”
    • She described his appearance to Manoah as “the countenance of the Angel of the Lord,” very awesome, or beyond understanding, spellbinding and brilliant.
    • Her description is like that of John in Revelation 1:16-17, “His countenance was like the sun shinning in all its strength.”
    • In her shock, she admitted not asking the Angel’s name.
    • Then she retold the Angel’s call and promise to her spell-bound husband.
    • Manoah didn’t question the Angel’s message, but he prayed to the Lord that the Man of the Lord would come again to teach his wife and himself what they should do for the promised child.
    • “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
    • Godly parents today also pray for such wisdom on how to raise a child for God’s glory—heaven knows we all need it!
  5. The Lord answered Manoah’s plea for divine guidance. (Numbers 13:9-14)
    • The Angel responded to Manoah’s prayer. Deliverance begins with prayer.
    • “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24)
    • He first appeared to the woman…she called Manoah to come and visit with Him.
    • When Manoah asked if the “Man of God” were the messenger who first spoke with his wife, the Angel answered, “I Am,” similar to the Angel’s response to Abraham and Moses.
    • Manoah asked that these blessed promises be repeated and come to pass.
    • He only wanted to know “what would be the boy’s rule of life and his work?”
    • Like any father, he wanted to know how to raise him and what would be his son’s life work since he is the product of divine promise and power.
    • There appears to be no direct answer to his work, but only to the Nazarite rule of total consecration unto the Lord.
    • The Angel, however, reminded his wife again to keep her vow through her pregnancy.
  6. Manoah sought to honor the Man of God with grateful hospitality. (Numbers 13:15-23)
    • He offered the Man of God food—a young goat.
    • The Angel politely rejected this food, but suggested that Manoah (who did not realize he was speaking with Christ) offer a sacrifice to Jehovah.
    • Like Christ incarnate, the Angel preferred spiritual food to physical food and drink (John 4:34)
    • Manoah perplexed by these instructions, asked the Angel’s name so that when this promise of a son was fulfilled, they could honor him.
    • “The Angel answered, 'Why do you ask My name seeing it is Wonderful!'”?
    • This same word is used again in Numbers 13:19 and in Isaiah 9:6 as, “Wonderful Counselor.”
    • Manoah offered the sacrifice on “the rock” to the Lord, like the Rock in the Wilderness by Moses.
    • Then the Lord did a “wondrous thing” while Manoah and wife looked on. (Numbers 13:19)
    • The Angel ascended in the sacrificial flame, demonstrating full and complete acceptance with the sacrifice.
    • As Christ ascended from death on the cross, so the Angel of the Lord arose at God’s acceptance of the sacrifice. (Hebrews 9:12)
    • Manoah and his wife fell to the ground in fear and worship. (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9)
    • The Angel never appeared again to them, but they knew it was the Lord.
    • Manoah feared they would die, since they had seen the face of God.
    • His wife, however, correctly assured him that if God had promised a son and accepted the sacrifice that the Lord had not designed harm or death but blessing and life.
    • Thank God for a believing, wise wife!

The Lord gave His deliverer to Israel as He promised. (Judges 13:24-25)

  1. The woman gave birth and called her son Samson, meaning “Little Sun” or “servant or minister.”
    • He was the promised “sun” or “light” in the dark days of Philistine oppression.
    • Christ is called the “Sun of Righteousness.” (Malachi 4:2; Matthew 13:43)
  2. The child grew and the Lord blessed him. (Luke 1:80)
    • Another Nazarite, John the Baptist, had a similar description of his early years.
    • “So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.” (Luke 1:80)
    • One day the Spirit of the Lord began to “move, compel or thrust-forth” upon Samson, even as the Holy Spirit “compelled or drove” Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Mark 1:12)
    • The Spirit’s movement or strengthening likely began at the age twenty—the time he became Israel’s deliverer.
    • The initial coming of the Spirit’s power upon Samson may actually be described in the next chapter, when Samson was in the wilderness attacked by a lion.
    • Samson, like Christ, was attacked. Samson by a lion intended by the devil to destroy God’s deliverer, and Christ by the devil intending to tempt Him to do evil.
    • “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
    • Samson became the “lone champion of Israel,” like David before Goliath (the Giant from Gath) and like Christ before the raging mob in Jerusalem.

Promises from the Lord:

  • “As your days, so shall your strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33:25)
  • “How could one have chased a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had surrendered them up? For their rock is not like our Rock.” (Deuteronomy 32:30-31)

Quote: “The Man of God came in answer to prayer.
The Lord Jesus, when we pray in faith, will manifest Himself to us
a very present help in our time of need.”


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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