This is the ritual law of the Nazirites, who vow to bring these offerings to the Lord. (Numbers 6:21)
Relate: One of the most famous, and some would say dumbest, people in the Bible is this tough guy named Samson. I’m not going to go into full detail of his life here, but if you are not familiar with him, go read the middle of the book of Judges. The entire book makes for some amazing reading, especially for junior high boys, and Samson’s story is certainly near the top. Among his many feats is the one time he picked up a donkey’s jawbone and clubbed to death a thousand well trained, fully armed Philistine soldiers. I always wonder what that last guy to face him must have been thinking. Seriously, gore and body parts are everywhere. You have watched this guy obliterate hundreds of your companions, are you really thinking, “I can do this. I’ve got him now.” Run, dude, just run.
Samson’s downfall came the night he told Delilah that the secret to his strength was in his hair. After brushing her off a couple times with lies only for the… lady… to come back to her constant nagging, Samson finally gives in and reveals his secret. I want to clear up two misconceptions about the story that I hear over and over again. First, I hear people say that as soon as his hair was cut, Samson was no longer a Nazirite. Second and far more common, his strength left him because of that haircut. No. Samson’s strength left him because the Holy Spirit left him. He had stopped being a Nazirite years before when he scooped out honey from a dead lion’s mouth and ate it. There are three things that constitute a Nazirite vow: 1) Don’t touch anything dead. 2) Don’t drink alcohol. 3) Cut your hair at the start and end of the vow, but never in between. Since Samson was supposed to be a Nazirite for life, that meant he was never to cut it, but the moment he broke one, all were null and void. Samson’s hair was just the outward pretense hiding an inner failing.
React: What would a Nazirite vow look like for us today? The vow was always something completely voluntary that anyone could make. Basically, God was saying, “I know that some of you will want to go above and beyond. Here’s how…” Sometimes, what most of us would consider legalism, is something some of us will undertake for a period of time as a form of “sprint” in the race we are running to follow Jesus. If we were to drop the Old Testament culturally Hebrew elements off but still take on the principles behind the Nazirite vow, what would we be doing.
- Touch no dead thing – stay separate. There are plenty of things in this world that might not be wrong for everyone but still serve no wholesome purpose. Personally, I think 99% of what is done on social media falls into this. So does 99% of what you would find on TV or the radio (yes, even so called Christian radio). It isn’t necessarily wrong, but it is time, visual, and audio pollution we could do without. What other things might we give up for a period of time to focus on God?
- Drink no alcohol – stay alert. I won’t touch the hornets nest of whether any amount of alcohol at any time is sin. Sometimes I think that we get so focused on that debate that we lose the bigger picture of what Paul was talking about when he said, “Be sober (or alert) and vigilant for your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour.” Beyond alcohol, what other things that we do, or do not do, that might deaden our senses and cause us to lose our vigilance?
- Don’t cut your hair – stay visible. There are some who call themselves Christians and then go about making a total… donkey of themselves “hee hawing” everywhere, getting on everyone’s nerves, and slandering the name of Christ. Quite often, the rest of us knee jerk so far to the other side that many around us don’t even know, or easily forget in the day to day that we are passionate followers of Christ. How can we maintain our visibility as Christians without coming off as obnoxious jerks?
Don’t let me be like Samson. I don’t want to live out the pretense of going above and beyond well after I have failed inside. I don’t want to have a show of strength while my core is rotting away. In those times that I set aside to go above and beyond, give me the discipline to follow through. In every season of my life let me be about seeking Your glory far above and way beyond any personal gain.