Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Nazirite Vow

The key to understanding the story of Samson is to understand what the Biblical practice of the Nazirite vow was all about. You can read about its description in Numbers 6. This practice came directly from God to Moses. The word “Nazirite” comes from a Hebrew word meaning to “separate” or “consecrate” and was a special vow taken by men or women to show their dedication to God. Though Samson is the first person mentioned by name in Scripture who took a Nazirite vow, there were definitely many people back to the time of Moses who took this vow as well. It would be similar to us today choosing to fast or even making a commitment like the Grace Church Bible Reading Challenge.

When a person took this vow, there were three criteria they had to follow. First, they could not eat or drink anything from the grapevine. Second, they could not have their hair cut during the time of their vow. And finally, they could not come near a dead body even if one of their closest family members died during the time-period of their vow. If you accidentally came in contact with a dead body during the time of your vow, you had to wait 7 days then shave your head and start your time-period over from the beginning.

Usually a Nazirite vow was determined by the participant and lasted anywhere between 30-100 days. At the end of the vow’s time-period the participant would shave their head and then offer three different sacrifices…a male lamb as a burnt offering; a female lamb as a sin offering; and a ram as a peace offering.

We learn in Judges 13 that Samson was unique in that he was to be a Nazirite from the womb until his death. Only two other people in Scripture were Nazirites for life. These included Samuel and John the Baptist. We do learn from the book of Acts that on at least two occasions Paul took a temporary Nazirite vow.

This is the key to understanding the story of Samson. So many people think that the source of Samson’s strength was his hair. The truth is that the source of his strength was his commitment to the Lord. His hair was just a symbol of that commitment. If you don’t think that’s true, read Judges 13-16 and mark every time you see the phrase that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson.” This was the source of his strength. As you read the story of Samson you see that this famous Old Testament character broke all three aspects of his Nazirite vow. The part which he broke last was having his hair cut by the infamous Deliliah. At this point the Spirit of the Lord left him as he had departed from every aspect of his lifelong commitment.

So what do we learn from this? What is the point we take home with us? The key to our spiritual strength isn’t our appearance or our abilities. The key to our strength is our being faithful to our commitment to the Lord. When we stay faithful to our commitment to God, we can be amazed at what spiritual strength God gives us to do things we never expected that we could do. But when we slide away from our spiritual commitment, like Samson, we will ultimately fail to see the power of the Spirit of the Lord in our lives.

If you are participating in our "Grace Church Bible Reading Challenge," today's reading is John 13-15. Be sure to go to our special website (http://blog.lgbc.org/) and share how God uses this passage in your life, read what others have written, or ask a question you have about the passage!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practice anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)