Most of us are familiar with the life of Samson. If you grew up attending Sunday School you heard many stories of his great strength and accomplishments. We also heard of his death, but even then we focused on his strength as he pulled the temple down around the Philistines. He was, without a doubt the strongest man ever to walk this earth. But he was also one of the weakest!
This weekend I want us to look again at this larger than life hero. If he was alive today, we might find him as a politician, or a professional athlete. Or maybe he would be seated here among us. He could be any man with a measure of success at his profession, a beautiful wife, lovely children, and perhaps a ministry at Grace Baptist Temple. The point is this…strong men fail.
God had a purpose for Samson from the very beginning. The situation in Israel at the time of his birth was difficult to say the least. Because of their disobedience, God had allowed the Philistines to oppress them. They raided the Israelite villages and stole from them at will. God determined to deliver them…even though they didn't ask. That is grace! He planned to use Samson to accomplish this. Read: v1-5
Jg 13:5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Six Tendencies
I. Disregard Boundaries (strong men who have confidence that they can 'handle things' often disregard boundaries)
Jg 13:5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
A. The Nazarite Vow
Outlined in Numbers 6:1-8
B. They were to stay away from:
1. Unwise - Strong Drink
2. Unclean - Dead Bodies
3. Unnecessary - Cutting Hair
C. What are some of our boundaries?
D. Consequences of Disregarding Boundaries.
On July 6, 1999, 27 year-old Daniel Dukes, a guest at SeaWorld Orlando was found floating naked in a killer whale's pool, apparently killed by a combination of hypothermia and drowning. Dukes had visited Sea World the previous day, stayed after the park closed, and evaded security to enter the Orca tank. They found no bite marks what so ever on Daniel Dukes. Apparently the whale thought of Daniel as a toy and in the morning the trainers had a difficult time separating the whale from the body. Sometimes strong men disregard boundaries, not to cause destruction, but just to have some fun. However, we often misjudge the consequences of our actions.
Sin will take us farther than we want to go, keep us longer than we want to stay, and will always cost us more than we want to pay.
1. Shackled by Sin
a. We know how his story ends.
b. Remember the pitiful picture of Samson at the end.
c. Blind and shackled like an animal.
2. Shamed by Sin
a. God has a way of bringing our secret sins out into the open.
b. David serves as an example of this fact.
c. For more contemporary examples, just pick up the newspaper or turn on the TV.
(Psalms 94:7) Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.
(1 Corinthians 4:5) Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
3. Spared from Consequences
a. Remember God's boundaries.
b. Renounce any activities that places us outside of these boundaries.
c. Rebuild the fences we've trampled. (marriage counseling with couples)
d. Rejoice in God's mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
II. Struggle w/ Lust
Jg 14:1-2 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.
A. Defining Lust
1. We know it is Sexual
2. We know it is Mental
3. We know it is Immoral
B. Samson's Struggle
1. Woman of Timnath 14:1
2. Harlot of Gaza 16:1
3. Delilah of Sorek 16:4
Mt 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
C. What are some of our struggles in this area?
D. Lust will cause us to:
1. Ignore the Spiritual
a. God was far from Samson's mind.
b. His focus was carnal, not spiritual.
c. That is what lust will do to us as well.
d. 'How can this be wrong, when it feels so right?'
2. Ignore God's Plan
a. God intended for him to deliver Israel.
b. Although he was fighting with the Philistines from time to time, and killed many of them.
c. He never became the deliverer that God had intended for him to become.
d. Lust will keep us from becoming the godly leader that God wants us to become.
E. Institute a Plan for Success
1. Get Right with God - confession.
(Proverbs 4:23) Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
2. Get Away - Stop it from continuing.
(2 Timothy 2:22) Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
3. Get Help - accountability.
4. Get Busy - fill the void with positive thoughts and actions.
Jg 14:3 Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.
III. Ignore Good Advice
A. Random good advice.
1. When you are depressed, listen to country music... The people in the songs will be more messed up than you are.
2. Don't worry about flunking Algebra... In real life there's no such thing as Algebra.
3. Always buy your parents nice gifts... After all, you don't want to inherit junk!
4. If you are having trouble opening a childproof bottle... Leave it in a room with a child.
5. Don't bother naming your cat... He's not going to come when you call him anyway.
B. Problem with advice
1. It is like medicine - it won't do any good if we don't take it.
2. Strong men are often bound and determined to do things their way.
3. Samson refused to listen to his parents' advice about his wife. 'Get her for me'
4. Personal example: Ben and Crystal
5. Care to share any advice that you have ignored?
C. Great men…
1. Covet good advice
a. Butch Harmon…do you know his name?
b. How about Tiger Woods?
c. Harmon was Tiger's golf coach during an incredible 34-month span when Woods captured seven major titles - a pair of Masters, two U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships and the British Open.
d. Who is the better golfer? Obviously it is Tiger…but he recognized that he needed another set of eyes to see the things he couldn't see alone!
2. Choose good advisors (Good advice comes from good advisors)
a. We need to listen to those who disagree with us.
b. We need to listen to those who love us.
c. We need to listen to those who have achieved success.
d. We need to listen to those who demonstrate wisdom.
(Proverbs 15:7) The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.
e. We need to listen to those who love the Word of God.
(Proverbs 2:6) For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
3. Consider advice given
a. If it meets the criteria for being good advice.
b. Give consideration to it and take the advice!
c. It seems that Samson didn't want to hear what his parents had to say…he simply wanted the woman because 'she pleased him well.
IV. Lack Discernment
Only two things are infinite. The universe and human stupidity. And I'm not sure about the universe. - Albert Einstein
Jg 14:10-11 So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do. And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.
A. Samson was too Clever for His Own Good
1. Today we would call this a bachelor party.
2. Not a real smart thing for a young man who had taken a Nazarite vow.
3. He decides to show off a little, and comes up with a riddle. v12-14
a. We know Samson's riddle .v5-6
b. It reminds us of another time he crossed God's barrier.
c. But this was becoming a habit for him.
B. Enemies of Discernment
(Pro 16:18) Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
a. Samson didn't count on the men using his new bride against him.
b. He never thought they would cheat, but they did!
a. We are not specifically told that Samson was partaking of the wine in the feast…
b. But it isn't much of stretch since he had made so many poor choices.
c. Alcohol impairs our judgment…it often makes us think we are smart when it really reveals our ignorance.
(Proverbs 20:1) Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
3. Anger: v18-20
a. Embarrassed and betrayed by his wife.
b. Samson kills 30 men and strips them of their clothes to pay off on the riddle.
c. As a result he loses his bride…it was all for nothing!
(Proverbs 14:29) He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.
C. Secrets of Discernment cf Ge 39:7-12
1. He looked around and saw his blessings. v8 (Potiphar had trusted him completely)
2. He looked within and saw his integrity. v9 (He couldn't do such a wicked thing)
3. He looked forward and saw his future. v9 (Joseph knew he had no future with another man's wife)
4. He looked upward and saw His God. (Not only was against Potiphar, it was against His God)
Jg 16:16-17 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
V. Take Foolish Risks
"If I miss the jump and hit the wall head-on, I'm just going to get somewhere quicker where you are all going someday. And I'm going to sit there and have a beer and wait for you." - Evel Knievel
A. Kinds of Risks
1. Unavoidable Risks -
a. The simple truth is that life is a risk.
b. Walking across the street.
c. Flying to a destination.
d. Even taking medication.
e. There are risks involved with living.
2. Necessary Risks -
a. Soldiers are on patrol in Baghdad.
b. Chemotherapy is often a necessary risk.
c. Sometimes we are faced with only one viable option in life that requires that we take a necessary risk.
3. Calculated Risks -
a. This risk differs from the necessary risk in that we have several options to consider.
b. There are a number of circumstances that all of us have experienced.
c. Changing jobs or making investments.
4. Foolish Risks -
a. These are those risks that we take when we know the likely outcome.
b. Playing golf in a thunderstorm.
c. Experimenting with drugs, alcohol, etc.
d. Ex. My brother's regrets when he was dying of cancer. He said, "I deserve this, I should have quit smoking years ago."
5. Samson took foolish risks…we know there were at least three women he was involved with, but there could have been others.
B. Questions to Consider
1. Are the rewards worth as much as the consequences might cost?
a. Running with the bulls in Pamplona.
b. In 1995 two young Americans were visiting a friend and got caught up in the moment.
c. The result: one of them fell and suffered a sudden, violent death.
d. Consider the trade: a great adrenaline rush and story to tell others vs. death.
2. What has happened to others who have taken the same risk?
a. Eccl 1:9b, "…There is no new thing under the sun."
b. If we see a string of disastrous results and broken lives; recognize the warning for what it is and avoid the risk.
3. What does the Bible say about what I am thinking?
a. The Bible should direct our paths.
b. Ps 119:105, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."
c. If we fail to use the light we will likely stumble and fall in the dark.
VI. Loss of Vision
Jg 16:21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
A. Suicide or Success
1. Samson's life is told by viewing one spectacular scene after another.
2. After capturing him and blinding him, the Philistines put him to work grinding flour.
3. Satisfied with their success, they forgot to keep cutting his hair.
(Judges 16:22) Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven.
4. Samson calls out to God, only the second time a prayer is recorded, and asks God for strength and brought down the temple.
(Judges 16:30) And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
5. Some look at the last phrase of this verse and say Samson ended his life on a positive note, but the reality is that he committed suicide! (another selfish act of revenge)
6. Sadly, Samson ended his life the way he had lived it - he had completely lost sight of the big picture…he was chosen to deliver his people from the hand of the Philistines.
B. Refocusing our vision.
1. Prayerfully reconsider our personal and professional goals.
2. Choose to surround ourselves with friends that understand and will support our life goals.
a. From the life of Samson, it seems he was a solitary individual.
b. No close friends to give godly counsel.
c. Draw close to those who are helping us stay on the right road, and keep our distance from those who tend to lead us astray.
(Proverbs 27:17) Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
3. Learn to tell the difference between that which is of temporal value and that which is of eternal importance.
a. There are many voices clamoring to be heard, but the truth is that we don't need to respond to all of them.
b. Often they will drain us of energy and eat up our valuable time.
c. Jesus commended Mary to Martha for being able to tell the difference.
(Luke 10:42) But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
C. Final thoughts?