The Nazarite was chosen from the womb to serve his God in a unique and powerful way. He was baptized into the service of God to be a warrior; a priest to the nations. We too are baptized into God’s service. We too are warriors and priests to the nations. Samson was a Nazarite/warrior who fought with real weapons and astounding strength. We are New Covenant warriors who fight with the weapons of worship, prayer, and covenant faithfulness. In the end, our mission is still the same: to see all the enemies of Yahweh turn to him or to see them destroyed.
In Judges, the wave of Samson’s wrath is being poured out on the Philistines. You remember that when the Israelites left Egypt to the Promised Land, the Egyptian army persecuting God’s people were immersed in God’s wrath as the waves crashed upon them. Now, Samson is God’s wave crashing upon the Philistines.
In Samson’s narrative there is a three-fold Spirit-rush upon Samson. The Spirit dwells Samson, but it comes in fire-fashion. It strengthens him to accomplish his role as judge. Similarly, we are called to call upon the Spirit.
Prayer: O, Holy Spirit, Divine and True, Third Person of the Holy Trinity: Guide us as you guided your servant, Samson. Teach us to call upon you in sorrow or in joy. Do not let us take for granted your abiding and ever coming presence. May you Pentecost upon us daily, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
There is a liturgical pattern that is inherent in the word of the Lord. In Samson’s narrative, the gospel first comes in word, that is: accept this offer to be incorporated into Yahweh’s bride. But the consequence and negative sanction of rejecting the word of the gospel is a sacramental action. Whereas in word we hear in sacrament there is action. We eat and drink. Negative sacraments also function similarly in sacred violence. In rejecting messiah figures, you are ultimately rejection the Messiah-Man, Jesus Christ. When word is rejected, sacraments are applied. In negative sacraments, Yahweh’s enemies are eaten altogether. They are put under his feet.
Common to Egyptian mythology is the sphinx. The sphinx was the mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human head. Those who could not answer his riddles were eaten by this Egyptian creature. Samson comes along and changes puts flesh into this myth. He not only tears the Egyptian sphinx in two but also tells a better riddle; a riddle, which they cannot solve on their own.
In Judges 13, Manoah’s sacrifice (ascension offering) is united with the Angel of Yahweh (Jesus). Jesus ascends to God as the perfect aroma. But he does this in front of Manoah and his wife. They are witnesses of his ascension. Acts uses similar language to describe the ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father. Jesus goes up in glory as the perfect complete sacrifice of Yahweh in the presence of many witnesses. He is the sweet aroma of ascension to the Father in death and in glory.
Leithart observes about Samson:
He goes about tearing lions like lambs, posing riddles, lighting foxes on fire, and so on and on. Only moralistic Christians could rob these stories of their inherent humor and interest. Frowning and finger-wagging only makes the critics of Samson look tinier.
From my sermon The Sacred Violence of Judges:
Our evangelical culture has tamed the Bible. They have kept our covenant children away from the sacred violence of Judges. Jesus has become the gentle shepherd holding his sheep, instead of the defender of his sheep who will act violently against those who threaten his sheep. The book of Judges is not just for the experienced Bible student, it is for little children for as such belong the kingdom of heaven. The little children in Israel rejoiced over the stories of how Yahweh defeated their enemies. The little children in the New Israel, the Church, have even greater reason to rejoice because Jesus has indeed defeated His greatest enemy, the devil.
Judges is a story of laughter, because history is God’s big laugh. In Psalm 2 we remember that Yahweh laughs at the plans of the wicked. For some of you who are cable-news driven; who love to be aware of everything going on in the world at the same time, be aware of interpreting the world through the lenses of a pagan worldview. The late Greg Bahnsen used to say that the problem with some evangelicals is that they are newspaper exegetes. In other words, they interpret the Bible in light of what they read in the newspaper. But biblically, our task is the opposite: we interpret the world in light of the Bible. And the Bible says that God laughs at wickedness. Next time you see or hear of people mocking the Church, remember to laugh a little at their foolish agenda to consume the One who is the All-Consuming Fire, God Himself.
Jim Jordan writes in the Introduction to his Judges’ commentary:
We do not need some specific New Testament verse to “prove” that a given Old Testament story has symbolic dimension. Rather, such symbolic dimensions are presupposed in the very fact that man is the image of God. Thus, we ought not be afraid to hazard a guess at the wider prophetic meanings of Scripture narratives, as we consider how they image the ways of God (xii).