What is the secret of Samson’s strength?
In my view, it is about the hair, but it’s also not all about the hair.
Sounds confusing? Ok, let’s start with the basics.
Samson was a nazarite (Judges 13). The word ‘nazarite’ comes from the Hebrew word nazir meaning “consecrated” or “separated”; consequently, the nazarites were the “consecrated ones” or “separated ones”. The condition for being a nazarite is described in Numbers 6:1–21, and in particular, nazarites were prohibited from these three things:
- Wine and other fermented drink
- Shaving their hair (therefore, they were required to let their hair grow long)
- Proximity to a dead body
Now, I believe each of these three things had a deeper spiritual significance behind them (just as when Moses gave the children of Israel prohibitions over certain food, the prohibited food were meant to convey a deeper spiritual truth; for details, please view my earlier blog).
In particular, hair, is an emblem for “covering” or “protection”. We see this principle in 1 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NIV):
14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.
That said, I believe that for the nazarites, their long hair was the emblem of God’s “covering” or “protection” over their lives.
Indeed, in Judges 16, we see that shortly after his hair had been shaved (verse 19), “the Lord had left him” (verse 20) (implying that the Lord was no longer “covering” over Samson’s life). At the same time, Samson’s amazing strength left him (verse 19). Herein, it should be apparent that Samson’s strength was not physical, but supernatural (from the Holy Spirit).
So, if you have been wondering “what’s the big deal about Samson’s hair”, it wasn’t really wasn’t about the hair per se (which is why males typically do not lose significant hair on shaving their hair), but about the spiritual emblem that it represented in Samson’s life. We know that God does deal with emblems seriously — even in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11), we find that believers who partook of the Holy Communion in an unworthy manner came under God’s judgment (verse 29), leading to sickness or even death (verse 30).