Part Three: Samson
There are some Christians who rightly emphasize the power and sovereignty of God; however, some of them go too far whenever they assert that basically nothing happens unless God causes it to happen. That last statement simply is not biblical. Although God is all-powerful, He is not responsible for all the evil in the world. Rather God's sovereignty is seen in His being able to accomplish His purposes in the world in spite of what we do or do not do. God always wants to use godly people who submit wholeheartedly to His will; however, God is not restricted to using just these kinds of people. God can and does use anybody and everybody to carry out His purposes.
The important thing to notice though is that simply because God uses you, you do not necessarily get to enjoy the benefits of what He is doing. If you submit to the Lord, you get to enjoy the benefits of His actions and the benefit of His favor. As we shall see in the case of Samson, even though God used Samson in a wonderful way, Samson did not get to enjoy the benefits of what God was doing. God IS going to have His way; the question is whether or not we are going to get to enjoy the benefits of what God is doing.
THE JUDGES ACCOUNT
The Dire Circumstances Israel Finds Herself In (Judges 13:1)
Once more Israel turns from God and God allows a people to rise up to oppress the Israelites. This time what people did God use to discipline Israel (Judges 13:1)?
This group lived in what today is called the Gaza Strip, the coastal region which lies to the southwest of Jerusalem. The land of the Philistines was dominated by 5 major cities: Gaza (from where we get the name Gaza Strip), Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath.
There is no mention of the Philistines living in Canaan during the time of Abraham. The Philistines moved into this region about the same time that Joshua commenced the invasion of Canaan. Because of Israel's constant rebellion against God, for the next 200-300 years the Philistines will prove to be an irritant against the Israelites. It will not be until the time of David that the Israelites finally conquer the Philistines once and for all.
Announcement of Samson's Birth (Judges 13:2-24)
God appears to the man named __________________ from the tribe of Dan who lives in the town of Zorah (13:2). Why could he and his wife not have children (13:3)?
In other words, if they are going to have a child, then it is going to be the result of a miracle. The child will definitely come from the Lord.
The angel of the Lord appears to Manoah's wife and tells her that she and Manoah are going to have a son who will deliver Israel from the Philistines. The son born to them is to be special in the eyes of the Lord. Because the son is going to be so special, what is she NOT supposed to do during her pregnancy (13:4)?
The son born to her is to be a Nazirite, one dedicated to the Lord. Because he was dedicated to the Lord, what was the one thing he was NOT supposed to do (13:5)?
Manoah is not convinced that his wife is telling the truth. When the angel of the Lord appears to both Manoah and his wife, what does the angel do to prove that his message is from the Lord (13:19-20)?
God still places His hand upon people, sometimes even before they are born. According to Paul when did God set him apart for his ministry (Galatians 1:15)?
I think of several people in our church whom God has set apart in a dramatic fashion for His service: Kyle Wilson who should be dead after his critical injuries from an accident; Craig Tekell who should be dead after his run-in with a train; Karen Cook and her sons who miraculously survived a terrible accident which claimed the life of her mom; and Kim Holcomb who even though her mother was adopted discovered that she and her mother followed in the train of her biological ancestors who were all teachers. I should not even have ever been born because my mom had a tublugation after my sister's birth who was born before me. In fact I was not even wanted after my parents found out my mom was pregnant. It was only after my mom fell and thought she was about to lose me that she prayed: "If you save my son, I will give him to you." God continues to call us to be His servants, even from their mothers' wombs.
Unfortunately although God sets us apart, many of us do not necessarily suubmit joyfully to the mission God has for our lives. God has a mission for Samson, to deliver Israel from the Philistines. Although Samson does deliver the Israelites, he does not have this for his mission in life. His mission in life is to please himself in whatever manner he desires. God will use even this to fulfill His mission for Samson's life; just don't be deceived into thinking that God's will was Samson's mission for his life. God fulfills His purpose for Samson IN SPITE of Samson.
Samson's Marriage to a Philistine Woman (14:1-20)
Samson reaches the age of marrying. Who does he find suitable for a wife (14:1-2)?
What is it about this woman that makes her an attractive wife for Samson (14:3)?
What is his parent's response to this match (14:3)?
The book of Judges at this point makes a rather puzzling remark. You would think that the Lord would be very displeased with Samson's pick for a wife. Yet what does the author of the book of Judges say about the Lord's opinion on this match (14:4)?
There is a development in the Bible regarding God's will. At first, for example with the story of Samson, it looks like God is willing everything. Yet by the time of the story of Job, we see that whereas at times God does will things to happen, at other times He allows things to happen. The wonderful thing is that whether God wills a thing or allows a thing to happen, His ultimate purposes are never thwarted. God may have been able to get more out of Samson's life if Samson had been obedient; however, even though Samson is disobedient to the Lord, God still uses Samson to carry out His purposes, even if Samson does not get to enjoy the benefits of God using him. Instead of being able to enjoy the benefits of God's working through him, Samson is overall going to experience a tragic existence.
After the arrangements have been made for his wedding, Samson comes upon a lion which he kills as easily as if it had been a goat (14:6). Later when he sees the lion again, he sees that bees have built a hive with honey inside the lion's dead carcass. Samson scoops up some of the honey and eats it. (This act definitely violated the purity laws in the OT; about the only thing Samson did not do to violate his relationship with God was not to cut his hair!)
Later when Samson throws a seven-day bridal feast for 30 of his friends, he propounds to them a riddle. If they can solve it, he will provide them each with a change of clothes. If they cannot, then they will have to provide him a total of 30 changes of clothing. (In the ancient world clothes were a sign of great wealth; this was a costly riddle.) The riddle went as such: Out of the eater came something to eat; And out of the strong came something sweet.
The men cannot find out the meaning of the riddle; so they ask the new bride to solicit from Samson the meaning of the riddle. For days he refuses to divulge to her the meaning of the riddle. What harsh statement does Samson utter to his wife (14:16)?
Finally, Samson weakens and informs his wife the meaning of the riddle. After she divulges to the men the meaning of the riddle, they then share its meaning with Samson. Samson is furious because he knows that they have "ploughed" with his wife. Nevertheless he makes good his promises and gives them each a change of clothes, after he has taken clothes from 30 Philistines he kills. Samson leaves his wife in a sulk. The father of the bride assumes that Samson has abandoned her and gives her to Samson's best friend.
Samson's Revenge (15:1-20)
Later Samson returns to retrieve his bride. When he finds out that his wife has been given to another, how does Samson respond (15:4-5)?
How do the Philistines respond to this outrage (15:6)?
Now Samson is thoroughly torqued. How does he respond to this act of revenge (15:7-8)?
The cycle continues. The Philistines demand that the men of Judah turn over Samson to them. Samson allows the men of Judah to deliver him to the Philistines. He then takes the jawbone of a donkey and kills 1,000 Philistines with it.
Samson and Delilah (16:4-22)
Things come to a head in Samson's conflict with the Philistines. This time Samson falls in love with another Philistine woman, Delilah. The leaders of the Philistines approach Delilah and promise her WHAT if she will betray to them the source of Samson's strength (16:5)?
Three times Delilah begs Samson to reveal to her the source of his strength and 3 times he deceives her. In the table below write down the deception he gives her.
|# of Deception||Scripture||Deception|
|First Deception||Judges (16:7)||.|
|Second Deception||Judges 16:11||.|
|Third Deception||Judges 16:13||.|
How does Delilah respond each time Samson falsifies the source of his strength (Judges 16:8-9, 12, 14)?
Samson must be as dumb as a lox. Each time she tests him to see if he has revealed to her the source of his strength. By the third time you think he would have caught on that she was going to weaken him if he DID tell her the truth. But Samson is weak with women and finally when pressed to the limit, he does tell her the truth about the source of his strength. What does Delilah do when he tells her the truth (16:19)?
Next follows one of the saddest statements in the Bible: "But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him" (16:20). It was tragic that the Lord had departed from him; it was even scarier that he did not KNOW that the Lord had departed from him. Too many well-meaning Christians have lost the source of spiritual strength because they have not followed Jesus. It wasn't that they committed some terrible crime such as murder or adultery. Rather they just refused to control their tongue; they refused to get their entertainment under control; they refused to honor the Lord with their finances. They are as dry spiritually as the Sahara Desert. What's even sadder is they don't even know it.
It can happen to anybody. One of the shining stars of Texas Baptist was a young professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He left the seminary to become pastor of a great church in Fort Worth, Texas. He was being called the greatest preacher among Southern Baptists. Then he sold his soul to the devil to become pastor of an even larger, but more importantly, more prestigous church in Texas. By the time it was all over, he had lost his church and his family. He ended up as a salesman cemetary plots.
What is the outcome of him telling the truth (Judges 16:18-21)?
Samson's Final Heroic Act (Judges 16:21-31)
Samson is blinded and chained to a mill. His life seems over. Yet what ominous statement does Judges 16:22 make which reveals that ALL is not over?
The Philistines during a feast want Samson to be brought out before them for sport. Now the feast is being held in honor of Dagon, the Philistine fish-god. It is being conducted in the temple of Dagon. Who is attending this feast (Judges 16:23)?
What does Samson ask the attendant to do (Judges 16:26)?
What does Samson pray (Judges 16:28)?
What follows (Judges 16:29-30)?
How many Philistines did Samson kill on that day (16:30)?
At this point many well-meaning Christians are going to excuse Samson for his past sins because of this final event. They are going to act as if all the sins he committed are now more than made up for because of this one victory. Well, they don't. It is true that God does something wonderful through Samson in the end; however, his life for all practical purposes is a bust. Just compare his life with Gideon's. Samson killed AT THE MOST 6,000 of Israel's enemies during his lifetime, while Gideon destroyed an entire Midianite army which numbered like locusts in a plague. Moreover, whereas Gideon rid the Israelites of the Midianite menace once and for all, Israel continued to be plagued with the Philistines for over another 100 years.
My dad was a good man; however, he did not live up to the potential God had placed within him. As Vice President of Safeway Food Stores, dad had the potential to impact positively thousands of people for the Lord. Moreover, he knew he had that potential but refused to realize it. On his death bed, he told my older brother that although he was a Christian and knew that he was going to heaven, he was going to have to give an account to God for all the opportunities he had squandered to serve God. The day of my dad's funeral my brother read my dad's testimony which he had written down before he died. Many of dad's business associates were there at the funeral and were visibly touched by his testimony. God snatched a wonderful victory that day from the jaws of defeat; however, the number that was touched in the funeral service that day did not make up for the thousands he could have touched for Jesus in his life time. We've just got to decide if we are going to allow God to use us to the fullest potential, or are we going to be like Samson and squander the wonderful opportunities God is presenting to you and me?
For the most part Samson's story is not a story of victory. It is primarily only a story of God's victory, not of Samson's victory. What is wonderful though is that even at the last when Samson finally turns to God, God does something far more wonderful through Samson than He had done before. It is never too late to turn to God, is it? Jesus expounds upon this principle in the story of the workers in the vineyard. The owner of the vineyard asks several groups of workers to come work in his vineyard. What time does the first group start working (Matt. 20:1-2)? How much did he agree to pay them (20:2)?
What time do the second group, third group, fourth group, and fifth group start working (20:3, 5, 6)?
What wages did the owner pay the second, third, fourth, and fifth groups (20:8-9)?
How much did the first group get paid and what was their response (20:10-12)?
This is not speaking about rewards in heaven. This is dealing with the issue that the fifth group was as saved as the first group. The time you turn to the Lord is not as important as the fact you did turn to the Lord. It's just a shame though that if Samson had turned to the Lord earlier, his life would probably have counted for a whole lot more than it did.
You always need to remember that it's not over till it's over. Even though the seminary professor/preacher messed up royally and suffered terribly, he has turned back to the Lord and is now being used by the Lord in a wonderful way. It's never over till it's over.
An Arrogant Approach to Life (James 4:13-17)
Samson's main problem was that he was narcissistic; as far as Samson was concerned, life was all about him. We see the same attitude in James 4:13-17. What does the man in this passage intend to do (4:13)?
What though is true about this person (4:14)?
What should be the man's attitude towards life (4:15)?
What was the man's real sin according to v. 16?
You don't have to sleep with prostitutes to be arrogant. The greatest act of arrogance is simply leaving Jesus out of the equation, no matter what the activities are or the plans entail.
At the end of the book of Judges statement, the author states what is the primary problem with the people of Israel in the book of Judges. What is that problem (Judges 21:25)?