Samson may be the most famous of all the Judges who rules Israel and one of the interesting aspects of Samson is that hair is the source of his strength. No one ever cut Samson’s hair from the day he was born to adulthood and this was no accident. Samson’s parents dedicated him as a Nazirite and part of that uniqueness is not cutting his hair.
5 for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” Judges 13:5 ESV
An angel appears to Samson’s mother and tells her she is going to have a child but she must raise him as a Nazirite. What is a Nazirite you ask? We have the details spelled out in the law of Moses.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, 3 he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. 4 All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins. 5 “All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long. 6 “All the days that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body. 7 Not even for his father or for his mother, for brother or sister, if they die, shall he make himself unclean, because his separation to God is on his head. 8 All the days of his separation he is holy to the Lord. Numbers 6:1-8 ESV
There is more to the vow of a Nazirite נָזִיר (naw-zeer) than long hair like Samson. There are very specific instructions. The person making the vow for a period of time is looking to be separated and holy to God. By making this vow you are placing a mark upon yourself that you are living a life conscious and separated to focus on whatever it is that God has placed on your heart.
|Vow to God||Men or Women|
|Set Period of Time||No length of time is set but the impression is that years are needed.|
|No wine||No alcoholic beverages of any kind|
|Nothing from grape vines||Beyond wine nothing that can used to make wine.|
|No hair cuts||Samson let his hair grow his entire life|
|No dead bodies||Cannot be near someone who died. Even if it is close family|
|Sacrifices upon exit||Numbers 6:13-19 for how to exit the vow|
Samson’s Vow is Unique
Samson has long hair but he is no ordinary Nazirite. He is commanded to be a Nazirite from an angle directly to his mother. The instructions given by Moses indicate that someone takes a vow of the Nazirite. Samson did not do this. He was raised as a Nazirite from birth. One of the purposes of a Nazirite vow is to complete something and when that something is completed the vow is completed. God enters Samson into this vow “Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy” (Numbers 6:5).
Samson vs John the Baptist
I can’t help but compare Samson’s birth and Nazirite vow to John the Baptist. While Samson was a great sinner who had a weakness for women the other similarities with John the Baptist are fascinating.
|Similarity||Samson||John the Baptist|
|Angel Appears to Parents||Judges 13:3||Luke 1:11-13|
|Holy Spirit on them since Birth||Judges 13:24-25||Luke 1:41-44|
|Wild appearance||Judges 13:4-5||Mark 1:4-6|
|Judge of Pagan Nation||Judges 16:27||Matthew 14:3-4|
|Their calling got them killed||Judges 16:28-31||Matthew 14:6-12|
Vows for Today
I do not live in the nation state of Israel in the time of antiquity so I don’t believe the vow of a Nazirite applies to me today. My hair will never be long like Samson. However, the concept and the ideas behind it absolutely apply to me. The vow of the Nazirite is someone who wanted to be set apart for God for a purpose. Through Jesus his death, burial, and resurrection we can be set apart and made holy for God.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV
Additionally, if you desire to make a vow to God above and beyond submitting to Jesus then take that up with fasting. By fasting something like social media or food you are telling God that he is more important that the most important things in this world. Set a time and take steps to be separate and holy in your thoughts and actions.