Since I grew up in church and “knew all the answers,” I was blinded to the fact that I needed to be saved from my sin. I thought the message of Jesus and the cross was just for others out there who were doing the really bad stuff. Essentially, I thought I could save myself by my knowledge and behavior.
If you are in a similar situation like I was, Samson could be helpful. Samson might be the most popular person in the Bible who was under the Nazarite vow, but it is also thought that Samuel was under the vow (1 Sam. 1:11-28; Hannah specifically mentions not cutting the hair); John the Baptist (Luke 1:15; no wine or strong drink); and the Apostle Paul (Acts 18:18; he cut his hair because he was under a vow-maybe at the end of a Nazarite vow). Nazarite is a word that derives from a Hebrew word (Nazar) meaning “consecrated or devoted one.”
Let me highlight details from Numbers 6 where we first read about the Nazarite vow:
- Voluntary vow by Israelite to separate himself to the Lord
- no wine and strong drink
- no vinegar made from wine or strong drink
- no juice of grapes, no grapes (fresh or dried)
- nothing produced by the grapevine (not even seeds or skins)
- no razor shall touch the head
- nowhere near dead bodies
- for a specific period of time
Three things are unusual concerning Samson’s Nazarite vow:
- He did not take it voluntarily; it was his lot from the womb (Judg. 13:5, 7).
- It was not limited in time; it was to last to the day of his death (vv. 5, 7; cf. 1 Sam. 1:11; Luke 1:15 for similar situations).
- He broke every one of its stipulations: his head was sheared (Judg. 16:17, 19); he associated with the dead (14:6–9; 15:15); and he undoubtedly drank at his wedding feast (14:10–20; see note on 14:10).
Still, God called Samson out for a specific mission. At the end of v.5, we are told that Samson would start to save the Israelites from the Philistines. The cultural situation isn’t anything new to us by now. The Israelites had turned to their own ways and were serving other gods. God gave them into the hand of the Philistines for 40 years. The Philistines would continue to oppose God’s people and the Israelites wouldn’t find relief from them until near the end of King David’s life as you can read about in 2 Samuel 21. There are a few mentions of the Philistines after David, but David was able to break their power.
So, Samson was given great strength to be able to basically single-handedly take care of the Philistines. We know this was God’s strength upon Samson because the strength stopped when Samson’s hair was cut, which was the last part of his vow to be broken.
You can look at this information about Samson and a Nazarite vow and say so what? Here’s what I hope you will see:
The Nazarite vow was a voluntary claim to say I’m going to be holy.
Salvation today is God’s claim to say I’ve made you holy.
Samson is an example of someone who tried to be righteous but failed apart from the power of God–like me before I understood the power of Jesus and salvation.
Jesus Christ did what no Old Testament leader did—He broke the power of sin and death, and now you can be declared righteous and enabled to live a life of holiness if you profess faith in Jesus and trust Him to save you.
Even the strongest man in the Bible wasn’t powerful enough to save himself. If I were you, I wouldn’t try either.