5-2-3 Samson And Gideon
Manoah's desire to detain the Angel and offer sacrifice (13:15) was exactly
that of Gideon (6:18). His belief after he had seen the Angel ascend (13:20
= 6:21), and his subsequent fear, were again expressed in the words of
Gideon (13:21,22 cp. 6:22). As Gideon was, perhaps subconsciously, the
hero of Manoah, so Samson followed his father's spirituality in this.
It seems he lived out parental expectation, and imbibed the spirituality
of his father without making it his own. Born and raised believers, beware.
As the Spirit came upon Gideon (6:34), so it is described as coming
upon Samson (14:6). It seems that the incident in ch. 15, where
Samson visits his wife with a kid and uses this as an excuse to
kill many Philistines, was planned by him to reflect Gideon's zeal.
The way Gideon brought a kid to Yahweh (6:19) may reflect how Samson
came with a kid (15:1). He then takes 300 foxes and puts firebrands
in their tails. Why 300? Surely this was in conscious imitation
of how Gideon took 300 men and put firebrands in their hands, and
with them destroyed God's enemies (7:16). The connection between
the faithful 300 and the foxes could suggest that in Samson's eyes,
he didn't even have one faithful Israelite to support him; he had
to use animals instead. It may be that as Gideon " went down"
to destroy God's enemies (7:9), so Samson justified his 'going down'
to the Philistines to take their women, as well as to destroy their
warriors (14:1,5,7,10). As Gideon was somehow 'separate from his
brethren' in his zeal, so was Samson. And yet Samson seems to have
copied just the externalities of Gideon (1);
not the real spirit. And therefore as Gideon foolishly multiplied
women to himself in the spiritual weakness of his middle age, so
perhaps Samson saw justification for his attitude. 'If heroic Gideon
could indulge the flesh in this area, I surely can'. He fell into
our common trap: to compare ourselves amongst ourselves, to measure
ourselves against human standards as we find them among the contemporary
brotherhood (2 Cor. 10:12). Saul should have realized that Samson,
like him, idolized Gideon, but only on a surface level- and should
have taken the lesson. But he didn't see the points we've made in
this paragraph. He could have done, but he didn't bother. And so
with us. The word supplies us the potential power to overcome. It
can often happen that the daily readings are almost purpose-designed
for our present situation. Yet if we neglect to read them- that
help lies untapped.
When Samson decided to attack Gaza by going into a harlot's house, he
may have been consciously imitating the way the spies played their part
in Jericho's destruction (16:1). And yet it was once again only a surface
imitation. He fell for the 'little of both' syndrome, justifying it under
the guise of Scriptural examples. He had done this in his youth; he "
went down" to take a Philistine girl for wife (14:1,5,7,10);
and yet by doing so he was seeking an opportunity to slay Philistines.
He may well have had in mind the sustained emphasis on the fact that Gideon
went down to destroy the Midianites (Jud. 7:9,10,11,24). He went
down morally and physically, and yet he justified this by thinking that
as Gideon went down physically, so would he. Such is the complexity of
the process of temptation. And all this is written for our learning.
Significantly, the major temptations within the Lord's mind- as far as
we can tell from the record of the wilderness temptations- was to misinterpret
Scripture to His own ends; to soften the cross.
" Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?"
(13:18) is exactly the Angelic words to Jacob (Gen. 32:29). Their subsequent
fear (13:22), cp. Gen. 32:20. The seven day marriage feast, associated
with a deceitful father in law offering the sister of the desired bride
in marriage (14:12), this is all the same as Jacob experienced (Gen. 29:27)-
right down to the fact that the younger sister was fairer (15:2 cp. Gen.
29:16,17). Samson should have learnt from the evident similarities with
Jacob; but like Jacob, still trusted his own strength.
(1) Saul did the same when he
prohibited the men to eat anything while they were pursuing the
Philistines (1 Sam. 11:11 = Jud. 7:16; 1 Sam. 13:5 = Jud. 7:12;
1 Sam. 14:24,28,31 = Jud. 8:4,5). He may have followed Samson's
weak side when at this same time he demanded to be avenged of his
enemies (1 Sam. 14:24); yet this wasn't Samson at his best (15:7;
16:28). See too Devotion:
A Caveat for more discussion of this tendency.