Before graduating from college, my wife student taught at a small school a stone’s throw away from where we resided. Prior to starting this obligation, she decided that an easy hairdo to manage was in order. The stylist listened to my wife’s specifications and clipped away. And clipped. And clipped. By the time my wife left the chair she felt scalped. And mortified. The very next day she had to face her instructing supervisor and meet the students she’d teach for six weeks. On the bright side, the stress of bedhead was eliminated, but so was the need for hairspray, gel, and shampoo. Some might have thought she readied herself for boot camp. (Think Demi Moore in “G.I. (Delaina) Jane.” My wife shed several tears over that botched shearing. Oh, the horror of a bad haircut.
A biblical hero understood the consequences of a lousy haircut. Even before a childless couple gave birth to the strong man Samson, God commanded that this future trailblazer of deliverance from the Philistine regime never sit in the barber’s chair. An angel of the Lord shared the following instructions to Samson’s mother in Judges 13. “Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
As a man, Samson caused the Philistines an extraordinary amount of grief. On one occasion, Samson wielded the jawbone of a donkey and slaughtered a thousand men. His strength perplexed the rulers of Philistines; they made discovering the secret to his power a goal. With the help of a beautiful woman, the Philistines learned that if a razor buzzed the head of Samson, he’d exhibit the strength of a normal man. In fact the text in Judges 16 shares that Delilah begged Samson for the secret multiple times. In verses 16 and 17, the scriptures share the following, “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he (Samson) was tired to death. So he told her everything…” After Samson retired for a nap, Delilah’s hairdresser slipped in quietly and shaved off the seven braids of Samson’s hair. Verse 24 shares the sad consequences, “Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison.”
For the next several posts, let’s look at several lessons applicable for us today.
Disobedience to God results in undesirable consequences. Samson knew for certain one of God’s rules for his life. God intended for Samson to keep his hair long. Growing out his hair from birth to death expressed an outward sign to all of his vow to God. And, according to Samson’s own words, he understood the consequences of a razor touching his head. Some people complain about the “Thou shalt nots” of the Word of God. Some consider God a killjoy, a regular party pooper in a world of such seductive choices. But one must remember, when God says “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not” it’s because as our Creator He knows what’s best for us.
Quite simply, think of it this way. For a moment, picture God as a giant umbrella. As long as we stroll under the shelter of the umbrella, we experience a welcomed respite from the elements of life. However, once we decide to walk out from under the protective canopy, consequences abound. The prophet Isaiah warned of this tendency. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away, each of us has turned to his own way…”
God made no mistake in comparing people to sheep. Both tend to make stupid choices. Stupid choices breed uncomfortable consequences. There’s a real blessing in staying under the umbrella with Jesus.