This is another kind of covenant, the benefits of which to Samson are that he will be uber-strong. Not Hulk level, more like Spider-Man.
In the Ancient World, this is pretty darn strong. Herc is more like Hulk level as in one of his labors he actually lifts up the world for Atlas (but that’s another show). The reason for Samson’s strength is that he is to begin the battle against the Philistines. See, the Israelites done gone and got themselves occupied by a foreign power after Joshua took the land of Canaan.
So Samson is supposed to start the process of removing the Philistines. The covenant, because this is how God operates, is that Samson must not cut his hair, for he is a Nazirite. And that’s pretty much it.
However, it doesn’t work today, otherwise all of the power ballad rockers of the 80s would have conquered the world.
Now, throughout our little adventure with Samson, we will come across a passage which goes something like this: “And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.” This happens whenever he uses his strength.
We have to look at this because before this point, God has always prefaced his power with instruction. This is most prominent in Moses with the 10 plagues, but also with Abraham. God is not in the habit of monitoring things and being at someone’s beck and call.
However, he is in the habit of establishing covenants with people and following through on that bargain. So when we see this kind of phrasing throughout Judges, it’s most likely not the fact that God is watching and sees Samson is in need of strength. More likely it’s that Samson hasn’t cut his hair, which means he is abiding by the terms of the covenant, and so the strength is always there.
These verses are likely a reminder as to the source of Samson’s strength, not the fact that God is filling him with power at the exact moment he wants it. This is important because we will see that Samson only communicates with God once in the entire story, and we don’t see anything in the way of an actual response on God’s part.
Samson’s power operates purely by the covenant. Hair=strength. It’s a fairly straightforward arrangement. And since hair is the only qualifier for the strength, we see some interesting things. God is a god of law, and keeps to His word no matter what in these stories. We’ll need this knowledge as we dig deeper into Samson.