Sometimes our context shapes what we hear and understand. In first century Palestine, the context of Roman oppression shaped the way the disciples (mis)understood the concept of Messiah – they thought the Messiah would come as a conquering king, not a suffering servant.
This also happened to Samson’s mother. Her context of barrenness shaped the message she heard from the Angel of the LORD when he announced that she would have a son. You can see this in what parts of the angel’s announcement she passed on to her husband;
The Angel said (Judges 13:3-5);
you will have a son
be careful and drink no wine or strong drink
eat nothing unclean
no razor shall come upon his head
he shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb
and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines
When she relays this amazing news to her husband, she omits the part about “no razor shall come upon his head” and she also omits the main point of Samson’s entire life; “and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (By the way, the Philistines had been oppressing Israel for 40 long years!).
It turns out that these two aspects were absolutely critical for Samson to understand who he was and what his mission in life was to be. Samson’s hair is related to his strength which is related to his mission to deliver Israel from the Philistines - all from God. But he never knew the source of his strength nor the purpose for his life. That created a vacuum that he spent his entire life filling with personal gratification and revenge.
Pro Tip: Parents can really help their kids by pointing out and praising them for what they are good at. Try it today: “Son/daughter, you are really good at _______________________. I have seen you do this for some time – and you are really good at it.”
What are you good at? Don’t know? Maybe no one has spoken into your life like that? Have you ever asked a friend (a good friend)? What do you have to lose? For those of us that are older, we have life experience that helps us spot how people are gifted (or not!). We can bless younger person who is sorting out who they are and what they are good at.
So, back to Samson. Israel’s apathy and Samson’s ignorance create an interesting tension – how would Israel be delivered if their deliverer doesn’t know he is their deliverer and Israel doesn’t even want to be delivered! Was Israel doomed? No. God is faithful to his covenant with Israel and would deliver them no matter how apathetic they became. Even though their joy depended on their obedience, their salvation/deliverance clearly did not! That’s like a picture of the assurance of salvation in the Old Testament, isn’t it?
Bottom line: We can have assurance because God is faithful, good and gracious – but joy comes from walking with God, not against Him.
If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself (2 Tim. 2:13).