Samson is our next hero. We’ve been looking at heroes from the book of Judges. Last week we met Jephthah, who went from zero to hero, but today’s judge went from hero to zero, then made a late comeback. This hero he blew it. It’s a story of destiny lost, yet God used him despite himself. Lets take a fresh look at a story most of you would be familiar with: Samson.
Judges 13:1 (ESV Strong’s)
And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.
Once again, Israel strayed and suffered the consequences of their sin, then the cried out to God. And God sent this amazing man who would really fit into the 21st century world today. He was strong, charismatic and successful for a time, but his arrogance and self centred lifestyle caught up with him. Charisma without character leads to catastrophe! Greed, sex, power, infidelity, egomania, revenge, this story has it all in spades! This is Arnold Swartzenegger meets Jason Mamoah meets Jeffrey Epstein meets OJ Simpson, all in one man called Samson.
Samson was an ego maniac with dirty linen that would keep a laundromat going for a year. He was famous, larger than life, a he-man with a she-weakness. He was a hero, a freedom fighter, a troublemaker, a playboy and a miscreant. Samson was dedicated to God before he was born, but never dedicated to God in His behaviour, a hero who blew it all by a never ending litany of bad choices. His story is amazing, but at the same time perplexing.
He should have been a godly man … but he wasn’t.
He shouldn’t have been in Hebrews 11 … but he was. So what went on here?
A GREAT START
Samson had the best of starts, better than almost any other Bible hero. I won’t read all the passages out, but let me highlight the advantages he had set up for him…
# 1 — His birth was announced by the angel of the Lord. (2-3)
# 2 — His mission in life was declared by God before he was born. (3-5)
Judges 13:5 (ESV Strong’s)
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.”
Interestingly the Hebrew word for “begin” is HALAL, which means to bore in or open a wedge, but it also means to profane or pollute. Interesting, almost prophetic word.
# 3 — He was raised by godly parents. (8)
# 4 — He was blessed by God as a young man. (24)
# 5 — He was empowered by the Holy Spirit. (25)
Judges 13:24-25 (ESV Strong’s)
And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the LORD blessed him. And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
No hero ever had so much going for him. Compare Samson to the other great heroes of the Bible. Which of them ever had advantages like this?
Which begs the question: Where did Samson go wrong? It can be summed up in one word… Selfishness.
WRONG PLACE, WRONG PEOPLE, WRONG DECISION
Samson displays a stunning ability to make ridiculously bad decisions, and he constantly flirted with and opened himself to ungodliness. He was supposed to be anointed and set apart to serve God as a Nazarite, but he only ever served himself. Today we would probably classify him as a a narcissistic psychopath.
Judges 14:2 (ESV Strong’s)
Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.”
He went to an enemy town, Timnah, not on a shopping trip or sightseeing tour, he went to check out the chicks. He saw an enemy girl, who looked sexy but was all wrong for him, and decided to lust after her, and so ordered, not asked, his parents to get her for him. His parents rightly object,
Judges 14:3-4 (ESV Strong’s)
But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”
His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.
Samson from the off was all about satisfying his own fleshly desires, particularly sexually, doing what was right in is own eyes. He went to the wrong place with the wrong intentions, to get him a wife from the wrong people. How many people today are prepared to throw away what is important for what is a temporary satisfaction of their flesh? Money, sex, power, is all going to burn! How many sacrifice their homes, families, relationships with God, finances, etc for temporary LUST or satisfying temporary needs?
2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV Strong’s)
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
SAM, YOU LITTLE FLIRT!
What we see in Samson is someone who loves to flirt with sin. Sometimes we are the same… We love the thrill of being close to the edge, then act all surprised when it sucks us in!
The Bible doesn’t command us to flirt with sin, it commands us to flee from it. Paul advises Timothy,
2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV Strong’s)
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
So many like Samson open the door to sin by a little seemingly innocent flirting. Humans gain a bazar satisfaction from dancing across the mouth of the lions cave. A suggestive conversation, a shoulder to cry on, a connection here and there over a coffee and before long there’s that physical attraction. Then the affair.
The world says what you do is your business, and no one can tell you not to.
If it feels good, do it. It says. But that’s not valid, you can’t rely on what feels ok or seems OK…
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)
for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.
Samson was empowered by God’s Spirit, but he wasn’t controlled by God’s Spirit!
1. CONTROLLED BY SELFISHNESS
Samson was all about Samson, not God. God gave him strength, an incredible gift, and instead of using it to serve God and set his people free he used it for his own amusement, and to satisfy his own lusts.
I don’t have time to go through all of the exploits of Samson, but he constantly flirted with the Philistines. He amused himself by playing with fire. For example, Judges 14, he posed a riddle to them, and they couldn’t figure it out, so his Philistine wife whined and nagged him into revealing it…
Judges 14:16 (ESV Strong’s)
And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.”
She nags him, he tells her, she tells the people, so Samson loses his bet, and does his lolly and takes revenge.
Judges 14:19 (ESV Strong’s)
And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house.
2. CONTROLLED BY LUST
Samson had a real chink in his armour… He lusted after women. They played the manipulation game with him, and he played back, posing riddles and games, then exacting revenge if he didn’t win!
Samson was completely consumed by sex, much like most of our society. From car ads to movies, TV shows and porn, sex is luring millions of people, men and women, to their destruction, and we’re told it’s normal and even healthy!
After numerous liaisons with various women and often prostitutes, the Philistines recognised that Samson had a consuming problem… Lust. So the most famous part of Samson’s story involves a stunningly beautiful babe called Delilah.
Judges 16:5 (ESV Strong’s)
And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Seduce him, and see where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to humble him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver.”
3. CONTROLLED BY ANGER AND REVENGE
So Samson played games and riddles with the enemy, and when thwarted by his own lusts, he doesn’t forgive he always seeks revenge.
Judges 15:7 (ESV Strong’s)
And Samson said to them, “If this is what you do, I swear I will be avenged on you, and after that I will quit.”
They say, Revenge is a dish best served cold. Revenge is what drives so many world conflicts and wars, and revenge is a prison you place yourself into. If you’ve been wronged by someone, you face a choice… Forgive or resent. If you choose to hold onto Unforgiveness, if you seek revenge for what has been done to you, then you are slowly killing yourself.
And Big Sam only had himself to blame…
Samson married the girl. Samson made the riddle. Samson set the wager. Samson gave in to the girl’s nagging, Samson revealed the answer and Samson lost the bet, because of his own foolish behaviour. Then he blames the other guys and exacts revenge on innocent people.
How many of us make stupid mistakes, then blame God, when He never wanted that outcome for our lives?
Proverbs 19:3 (ESV Strong’s)
When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the LORD.
Some here are still raging against God. Listen, don’t rage, repent! Until we stop blaming God we will never move into our destiny. We need to man up and take responsibility for our own foolish decisions, repent and come back to God.
DRIP, DRIP, DRIP
I remember visiting limestone caves, where huge pieces of limestone have been worn and shaped and formed by what? The constant, little drips of water. The Chinese water torture, where water is dripped onto the same place until it’s pounding through your head. That is how the Bible describes nagging…
Proverbs 27:15 (ESV Strong’s)
A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike;
So Samson was set up and his weakness for women exploited by a paid Hooker called Delilah. She was beautiful, sex, flirty and more cunning than Samson, and she was more loyal to his enemies. By incessant and constant nagging, She found out that while God was the secret of his strength, his Nazarite vow of not cutting his hair represented this strength.
Judges 16:15-16 (ESV Strong’s)
And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.” And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death. He was literally nagged to death. One guy I know said, my wife is an angel, she’s always harping on about something!
So he was nagged into revealing the truth by a woman he lusted after. How the early hopes for this man of God have faded, tainted by selfishness and sin.
Judges 16:20-21 (ESV Strong’s)
And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him. And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes and brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze shackles. And he ground at the mill in the prison.
GOING OUT WITH A BANG!
But God wasn’t done with Samson.
Judges 16:22 (ESV Strong’s)
But the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
As his strength returned, his masters unwittingly played into his hands. They called him out to gloat a a bug party, and Samson, blinded and oppressed, seized his last chance.
Judges 16:28 (ESV Strong’s)
Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”
Again, what’s the motivation? Revenge. Samson is still a selfish, vengeful, heavily flawed individual, but a old Jewish proverbs says, God can strike a big blow even with a crooked stick.
Judges 16:30 (ESV Strong’s)
And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.
As I look at Samson, the one thing that stands out in this hero is a man full of promise, full of strength, full of God given gifts… Who lost his destiny because of selfish choices.
D L Moody once said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”
Samson was not that man. He had talent, had gifts, had opportunities to serve God but he chose to serve himself, and lost his destiny. I wonder how great a man he could have been had he been obedient.
Some listening to this message have blown it, just like Samson. You had promise, you had chances to do something great, but because of foolish decisions you blew it. You might have married the wrong person, you might have done the wrong thing, and all that potential just slipped through your fingers. Samson was given chances time and time again, but he refused to change his selfish, self serving ways.
This needs to be a lesson to us! All the talent, all the gifts, all the opportunities given to us amount to nothing if we miss God’s will for our lives. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s still time, whatever your history, whatever you’ve done, there’s time for you to repent and regain your destiny.
Samson represents destiny lost, but this morning God stands with open arms saying, Come, and experience destiny rediscovered. He says,
Matthew 6:33 (ESV Strong’s)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Samson thought he was free to do what he wanted, but he was in bondage to his own uncontrolled emotions. He couldn’t face the truth. We can be like that. Jesus said
John 8:32 (ESV Strong’s)
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
As one counsellor added, the truth will set you free, but it will hurt you first. Most of us know the truth, we hear it preached and taught and read it in God’s Word. It’s not that we don’t know the truth, it’s that it hurts sometimes to confront it, and to obey it, and to live it. But the rewards for obedience are worth the pain.
“The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”