Samson Breaks His Vow
“His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines” (v. 4).- Judges 14
Under the old covenant, an Israelite could make a Nazirite vow to the Lord and be set apart for a sacred task. God imposed this vow on Samson to identify him as the one appointed to begin defeating the Philistines (Num. 6:1–21; Judg. 13:4–5). It did not take him long to break this vow, showing that Samson, like Jephthah, would be a judge with a decidedly mixed record. God used both men to rescue His people, but both men were flawed indeed.
It was bad enough that Samson sought a wife from among the Philistines, outside the faith of Israel, and that his parents gave in to his desire (Judg. 14:1–10; see Gen. 24:1–4). But Samson compounded that error by violating his Nazirite vow. God gave him great strength, with which he killed a lion, but then he came into contact with the lion’s carcass when he scooped honey out of it (Judg. 14:6–9). Part of the Nazirite vow involved staying away from dead bodies (Num. 6:6). Moreover, Samson broke his vow further during the wedding feast to celebrate his illicit marriage. The Hebrew word translated “feast” in Judges 14:10 actually refers to a weeklong drinking party that was held at the home of the bride’s parents. Those under the Nazirite vow were required to abstain from alcohol (Num. 6:3), so Samson ignored that aspect of the vow as well.
Samson’s wife not only was foreign to God’s people, but she also was disloyal to Samson, divulging the answer to the riddle he told the Philistines after killing the lion (Judg. 14:10–18). And yet, we read in Judges 14:4 that Samson’s desire to marry a Philistine girl, which led to the breaking of the Nazirite vow, was “from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines.” Here we must be reminded that although God Himself does not tempt people to sin (James 1:13), our wicked actions and desires are not outside the scope of God’s plan. God works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11), including sin. The Lord does not approve of transgressions in and of themselves, but He can still use them to accomplish His greater purposes. This is what He did with Samson. Ultimately, God used the sin of Samson to put him in a position where he could kill many of Israel’s enemies the Philistines. Nevertheless, Samson’s wickedness brought him much suffering. Our sin does not thwart God’s ability to work out His good plan, but it is better for us if He works out His plan through our obedience, not our misdeeds.
God’s sovereign plan cannot be thwarted by our sin. Nevertheless, we should not be eager to sin in order to prove this point. Sin brings serious consequences and pain, so it is far better for us if God works through our obedience to accomplish His purposes. Let us seek to obey Him so that we may please Him and so that we do not have to deal with the tragedy that sin can bring.
Passages for Further Study
Leviticus 10:8–9; 11:24–28, 39–40