Finally, Samson told her his secret. "My hair has never been cut," he confessed, "for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else." – Judges 16:17 NLT
The end of Samson's life is marked by victory and tragedy. It contains the most famous of his exploits, but also a vivid picture of his failure to remain separated to God. From the day of his conception, he had been set apart by God for His service. God had instructed his parents to make him a Nazarite from the day he was born. There were very strict requirements on anyone taking the Nazarite vow.
If some of the people, either men or women, take the special vow of a Nazirite, setting themselves apart to the LORD in a special way, they must give up wine and other alcoholic drinks. They must not use vinegar made from wine, they must not drink other fermented drinks or fresh grape juice, and they must not eat grapes or raisins. As long as they are bound by their Nazirite vow, they are not allowed to eat or drink anything that comes from a grapevine, not even the grape seeds or skins. They must never cut their hair throughout the time of their vow, for they are holy and set apart to the LORD. That is why they must let their hair grow long. And they may not go near a dead body during the entire period of their vow to the LORD, even if their own father, mother, brother, or sister has died. They must not defile the hair on their head, because it is the symbol of their separation to God. This applies as long as they are set apart to the LORD. – Numbers 6:2-8 NLT
It seems that Samson wasted little time violating just about every one of them. He regularly defiled himself through sexual immorality, alcohol, by touching dead bodies, and associating with the enemies of God. We have seen how he was driven by his passions and lusts. He had failed miserably at remaining separated to God by his actions. The only thing left was the outward symbol of his separation, and that was his long hair. It had not been cut since the day he was born. Evidently, Samson's remarkable strength, showcased in this chapter, was not the result of a massive physique. He probably did not appear physically strong, or the Gazites would not have paid to find out the source of his strength. His strength was miraculous and God-given. It was a result of God's Spirit resting upon him. But chapter 16 reveals Samson's final compromise. Driven once again by his physical urges, he finds yet another woman who seduces him from following God's plan for his life. And as before, she ends up being from the enemy camp. This time, his literal love affair with the world would result in his separation from God, and ultimately the loss of his strength, his enslavement, and his death.
Samson was unwilling to remain dedicated to God. His insatiable sexual appetite would cause him to compromise his position as God's elect. He would end up selling out and giving up his role as God's deliverer. It wasn't so much that his hair was the source of his strength. It was that his hair was the symbol of his separation – which illustrated that he belonged to God – who was ultimately the source of his strength. There were multiple times during his life that Samson should have shaved his head because he had been defiled. There was a ritual he should have followed to restore himself to a right relationship with God. But he had failed to do so. I think that this chapter reveals how God was going to force Samson to keep his commitment by having his pagan wife betray him and shave his head for him. What Samson was unwilling to do on his own, his Philistine wife would unknowingly force him to do. The loss of his hair symbolically separated him from God. Sacrifice would have to be made to restore him to a right relationship with God. Repentance would have to be shown. Normally this would be in the form of a sacrifice in the temple. But in Samson's life it would be his very own life. Samson would end up giving his own life as a sacrifice to God – defeating the enemies of God yet again, but giving his life at the same time.
Samson's life is one marked by great victories, but personal defeats as well. He had failed to remain separated to God. His life was marked by constant failure to separate. Yet he is listed in the great Hall of Faith chapter in Hebrews 11. In spite of his shortcomings, he was used by God. He is a lesson to all of us as Christians how God wants to set us apart for His use, but how easy it is to let the things of this world distract us and destroy our effectiveness. But God, in His faithfulness, still uses us. It is ultimately His Spirit and His power that allows us to accomplish anything of significance for Him. But what if we chose to remain faithful, full separated, and sold out to His cause. What more could He do with men and women who are fully His?
Father, I want to live a life that is separated to You for Your use and Your glory. Thank You for using me in spite of me, but continue to show me how to live increasingly more dedicated to You and not me. I want my life to be marked by separation to You, not from You. Amen