The Serpent and The Lion. The Feast
We have seen what nazariteship is. The history of Samson shows us, that in it lies our spiritual power.
Christ only has fully made good His nazariteship, an absolute moral separation, throughout the whole of His life down here, and it is still the case in heaven where He abides the true Nazarite "separate from sinners" (Heb. 7: 26).
Samson, the Nazarite, is hardly a type of Christ except as to his mission (Judges 13: 5). He is really, rather the type of the testimony which the church of God renders in separation from the world, in the power of the Spirit and in communion with the Lord. The history of this man of God,although abounding in acts of power, is notwithstanding one of the most sorrowful recitals contained in the word. Samson (the church likewise, founded on an ascended Christ) should have been a true representative of separation to God. Alas! he was nothing of the sort. In comparing his nazariteship with that of Christ, how striking does the deficiency of Samson's appear!
Christ, the true Nazarite, encountered Satan in two characters: in the desert, as the serpent subtle and enticing; and, at the end of His course, as the roaring lion that rends and devours. In the desert, the Lord met the wiles of the enemy, with the word of God and entire dependence upon Him, and gained the victory. Samson, at the beginning of his career, encountered the serpent, who sought to entice him by means of one of the daughters of the Philistines. Twice is it said that "she pleased him well" (vs. 3, 7). From that time he formed the intention of uniting himself to this woman who belonged to the race of Israel's oppressors. It is just the same with the individual or with the church when in conflict with the deceiver; Satan, who had nothing in Christ (John 14: 30), easily finds a response in our hearts: By means of the eyes, our hearts are lured to the object presented by him and find pleasure in acquiring it. It does not necessarily follow that we must fall. If such objects are attractive to our eyes, grace and the word which reveals this graceto us are able to keep us. Notwithstanding the tendencies of his heart, Samson, kept by the providential grace of God, never married the daughter of the Philistines.
The desire of Samson shewed that the word of God had not its right weight with him. His parents, knowing much less of the counsels, but more of the word, of God than he did, said to him: "Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?" (v. 3) The word of God was indeed explicit on this point: "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son, for they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods" (Deut. 7: 3, 4). Why did not Samson take heed to this? Christ, the perfect Nazarite, recognized the absolute authority of the Scriptures and fed upon every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The word of God not having its right weight with Samson, he started on a downward path which could only lead to a fall. In the life of Samson, three women mark the three stages which led to the loss of his nazariteship. The first was pleasing to his eyes; he formed a passing connection with the second (Judges 16: 1), and he loved the third (Judges 16: 4). When his affections were engaged, the last hour of his nazariteship had sounded.
Nevertheless Samson was not devoid of affection for Jehovah and His people. It is said, "But his father and his mother knew not that it was of Jehovah, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines" (v. 4). The domination of the latter was hateful to him. He was looking for a favourable opportunity to strike the blow which should break the yoke weighing upon the children of Israel. But Samson was not single‑eyed; he brought a divided heart to the work. Trying to reconcile pleasing his own eyes with his hatred against the enemy of his people, he was holding out his left hand to the world and at the same time wanting to fight it with his right. Yet God took note of what there was for Him in this divided heart. "It was of the Lord" who could use even the weaknesses of Samson to accomplish His purposes of grace towards His people.
This proneness to seek in the world that which "pleases the eyes," led Samson into endless difficulties from which only the power of God could deliver him. There are many instances in the word where a first look turned toward the world involves the believer in irreparable trouble. We have to watch against that with fear and trembling, for we can never foretell what abyss a single lust may open for us. Such was the case with Adam, with Noah, with Lot, with David. Grace can keep us, but it will not do to trifle with it, nor to imagine that we can use it as a cloak to cover our lusts or to excuse our sins. Let us rely on it in order to be sustained and preserved from falling, and if we have been so unhappy as to have abandoned for an instant this support, let us quickly return to it for restoration and for the recovery of our lost communion.
Samson was on slippery ground. His eyes were enamoured, and he desired to take this woman for his wife; for alliance with the world follows the lust of the eyes. Then he made a feast (v. 10), and seated himself at it, guarding no doubt the external marks of his nazariteship, for we are not told that he drank wine with the Philistines; yet this repast had a sorrowful termination for him.
Before going any further let us take into consideration what preceded the feast in Samson's history. We have already said that Satan not only presents himself as a serpent, but also as a roaring lion. It was in this character that the Lord Jesus met him in Gethsemane and at the cross. Nothing is more terrifying than the roar of the lion. Satan sought to frighten the holy soul of Christ in order to make Him abandon the divine path which led down to the sacrifice. In the power of the Holy Spirit and in perfect dependence on His Father, the Lord withstood him in the garden of the Mount of Olives. At the cross, where he opened his mouth against Christ "as a ravening and a roaring lion" (Ps. 22: 13), the Lord in "the weakness of God" (see 1 Cor. 1: 25), overcame "the strong man," and, through death, nullified his power (Heb. 2: 14). In just the same form does Satan present himself to the children of God. "Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5: 8). If he does not succeed in beguiling us, he tries to frighten us. Samson was now confronted by the young lion, coming up against him from the country of the Philistines, and here his nazariteship was manifested in its full power, which is that of the Spirit of God. "And the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand" (v. 6). Such is the way that we have to act when meeting Satan. We should not spare him in the least, for if we do he will return to the charge. We must, in our struggle, rend him as we would rend a kid. He can do nothing to us so long as we resist him fearlessly (see James 4: 7; 1 Peter 5: 9); for, weapons (if we may so speak), Jesus has already overcome him for us at the cross.
Later on, Samson, passing by the same road, turned aside to see the carcase of the lion, and found in it "a swarm of bees and honey;" he ate some of it as he went along, and gave some to his parents. As the fruit of Christ's victory on the cross, all heavenly blessings have been placed in our hands, and these blessings are taken from the spoil of the defeated enemy. And if we, obtaining a victory over him (henceforth rendered easy), treat him as a vanquished foe, our souls will be filled with strength and sweetness. We shall be able to impart of what we have got to others; but, like Samson who ate as he went along our own souls will have first been fed. Let us never treat Satan as a friend; if we do, we shall come away from such a meeting beaten and enfeebled, embittered and famished.
The victory of Samson over the lion of Timnath was not only a proof of strength; it was a secret between him and God. When his eyes were attracted to the daughter of the Philistines, he told his parents of it; concerning his victory he told no one. The life of Samson abounded with secrets and at the same time with acts of power. Even his nazariteship was a secret, a link, unknown to any, between his own soul and Jehovah. This link is for us communion. We meet with four secrets in this chapter. Samson had not divulged his intentions to his parents, nor the part that Jehovah had in these things (v. 4); he had not told them of his victory (v. 6), nor the place whence he had procured the honey (v. 9), nor his riddle (v. 16). All that, kept unbroken between his soul and God, was for him the only means of following a path of blessing in the midst of this world.
Let us return to Samson's feast. He put forth his riddle to the Philistines, rightly supposing that they would understand nothing about it; indeed, had it not been for the feast, he would not have been in danger of betraying himself. But the enemy succeeded in robbing him of that which he had so carefully concealed. The world has an insidious effect upon us, leading to loss of our communion with God. If our hearts, like Samson's, in any way cling to what the world may present to us, it will not be long before we lose our communion. Absence of communion does not at first imply loss of strength; it is, however, the road which leads to it; for, as long as nazariteship exists, even externally, strength will not be lacking, as Samson proved to the Philistines in the matter of the thirty changes of garments. But did this man of God have much peace and joy during the days of the feast? On the contrary, it was a struggle with tears, care and pressure (v. 17). He was betrayed by the very woman of his choice. One can scarcely conceive that association with the world would produce the bad results which, as a matter of fact, it does. Samson would never have thought that his thirty companions, aided by his wife, would lay traps to plunder him, for the thirty changes of garments by right belonged to him. Satan may separate us from communion with the Lord, may make us unhappy; he may also hinder our being witnesses here below, but, thanks be to God, he cannot pluck us out of the hand of Christ.
The grace of God preserved Samson from the final consequences of his error, and delivered him from an alliance which God could not approve of. The Spirit of Jehovah having come upon him he performed mighty deeds. "And his anger was kindled" (v. 19). Samson was a man of a very selfish character and was guided in his action by the sense of the wrong that had been done him. Nevertheless he was victorious over the enemies of Jehovah, and kept for himself none of their spoil, it went back to the world, from whence it had been taken. Then he quitted the scene of so much unhappiness and "went up to his father's house," which he never should have left to settle among the Philistines. May we profit by this lesson; and if, in our intercourse with the world, we have passed through painful experiences, let us hasten to return to the Father's house (which we never should have left, even in thought), where He dwells whose communion is the source of our peace and happiness all our pilgrimage way, till that moment comes when we shall enter forever into that house - our eternal dwelling‑place!