I like Samson but have little in common with him. He was “a man’s man,” whatever that means. Long hair, maybe a powerful build, drawn to women who were likewise drawn to him, and not much into intellectual pursuits. I am the opposite of all of those traits. He served the same God as me which is partly why I like him. In addition, he was occasionally confused and weak when he should have been strong. We have that in common too.
Some people think Samson was skinny and didn’t have a powerful build because it would then demonstrate that God was at work in Samson. It would also explain why the Philistines were so anxious to discern the source of his strength. Perhaps this was so but the Bible does not say. On the other hand, no one could do what he did, no matter how buff. He killed a charging lion with his bare hands. This has never been done by anyone in human history (that we know of.) There is only one man (Harry Wolhuter) in the last 100 years who killed an African lion with a knife (he was in the jaws of the lion at the time….not exactly Samson like.) Samson tore the lion to pieces! In addition he could kill a thousand Philistines with a donkey bone. That takes as much endurance as brute strength. It was incredible.
So, even if he were buff, the Philistines knew there was more to Samson than mere body building. What made him so strong? Samson said, it was his hair. Sorry Sam. It can’t be true. The Bible makes it clear.
Judges 15:14…And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily
That was the secret. So why did the hair matter? Was it the power of suggestion? Because of the vow made by his parents when he was a baby, the long hair was a symbol of his dedication to God. As he kept his hair long, Samson felt his power to be intact. He could use it on lions and Philistines, but not the people of Israel.
Samson clearly had some issues with women. He preferred Philistine women, including Philistine harlots. He trusted his women and three different ones betrayed him. One revealed the answer to his riddle, another betrayed his presence and Delilah eventually betrayed him into slavery after several trial runs.
If his shorn hair was not the source of his strength then why did he lose it? Did God withdraw from him? Yes, sort of. It was Samson’s faith that left him probably out of guilt. Guilt will do that. It cuts our access to God in that we refuse to repent and thus we feel too guilty to approach Him. Samson stopped relying on his God until his hair returned. Only then did he call out and ask for the return of his power. I think he could have done so at any time. God doesn’t care how long is our hair.
God is the source of our power. There are no magic incantations nor any holy vow that can manipulate God. It is our personal relationship with Him that strengthens us. Samson did not understand this until his last moments on earth. No need to wait that long.
Philippians 413 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me