Samson - a Nazirite?

Last night I read the story of Samson as recorded in Judges 13 - 16. During my reading, I was drawn to the idea of Samson's lifetime dedication to being a Nazirite, not by choice, but by command, and the lifestyle he lived. Often when I think of a Nazirite, I think of someone with a special calling and anointing from God and someone who is in some way "more special" than other Christians. Prior to last nights reading, that "specialness" focused on the obedient, more holy lifestyle of sacrifice and commitment, but after reading through the whole story of Samson's life in one setting, my thoughts strayed from my previous understanding.

On one hand, I considered the inaccurate, but often unconsciously accepted theological idea of our sins being weighed in balance to our righteousness. If our righteousness outweighs our sins, then we are considered to be "good" Christians. Whereas, if our sins outweigh our righteousness, are Christianity is somehow questioned. Yet, last night it struck me how prevalent this is in our Christian culture and how even I have accepted this theology in a personal manner unintentionally. No, I would never teach it, but when I feel overwhelmed by my sins, weaknesses, inadequacies, and mistakes in ministry, I feel the burden of this misconception and sometimes even question my ministry calling. Somehow I equate the calling to be a minister with the calling to be a Nazirite, even though I do not follow the rules ordained for that calling. I suspect, that this burden started as an amateur reader of the Scriptures. As a 10 year old, who had not yet fully developed away from an objective, literal worldview, trying to discern what it meant to be called, I suspect that I adopted the association between being called to ministry with being called to be a Nazirite. Wasn't John the Baptist a Nazarite from birth? And wasn't Samson, the man who, from a child's perspective, suffered death because he did not uphold his Nazarite commitment, a Nazarite? OH, was I so wrong.

Last night, as I read about Samson, I realized that he wasn't really much better than any one of us. Yes, he did receive a special call from God, but that doesn't mean that he was more than perfect or even better than average. And when he "acted disobediently" and proudly told his gal, Delilah, that if his head was shaved he would become weak, that was actually part of God's big plan.

Four chapters of the Hebrew Testament are devoted to the story of Samson. That is much more than many of the other judges. He was a crude, demanding, egotistical man. It seems as though his calling may have got to his head. Yet, God fulfilled His plans through Samson's life and God kept His promise.

God keeps His promises and fulfills His callings.

Another thing I found interesting about this story is that Samson was called to "begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines." It seems that many of the featured heroes and heroines of the Bible were called to be the "beginners." Many did not get to see the results of the work that God lead them to do. They were initiators of change and they faced resistance, but they knew that God would overcome and that God's plan would prevail. These initiators of change were men and women of strong faith that knew that what God promised would come to pass, even if they were prevented from seeing the consequence of their faithful obedience. God gave them each a small glimpse of what was to come, yet held them in a place of humility in knowing that it would only come to pass by the power of God and in God's timing.

Samson was not perfect, in fact, to me, he seems far from perfect. But God did not condemn him, but remained with him through to the end.

In the same manner, none of us are perfect, and we all too often seem far from perfect. But God does not condemn us, Jesus came to give us a full life, and with His strength, His provision, and His great all encompassing love, we too will remain with God to and through the end.

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