Lessons from the story of Samson
Samson – Lessons from the story of Samson Judges 14-16
BACKGROUND ON SAMSON:
Judges 13:5 There was a man named Monoah and he had a wife name Zorah. Zorah was sterile and childless. The angel of the Lord visited her and told her she was going to conceive and have a son. God gave her instructions concerning the son she would have. He told her that he is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.
The name “Samson” means “of the sun”. He was the last of the major judges over Israel. The Philistines were ruling over Israel at the time of Samson’s birth. Samson was dedicated by his parents to be a lifelong Nazarite. A Nazarite was a person who was especially devoted to God. The Hebrew meaning of the word Nazarite means consecration, devotion, and separation. The Outward signs of a Nazarite was the growth of hair, abstinence from wine or other alcoholic products, the avoidance of contact with anything dead. Violation of these signs resulted in defilement and the need for purification so the vow could be completed. So often in this story we think that Samson’s long hair was where his strength came from. I think even Samson thought that was where his strength came from . However his strength did not come from his long hair, rather it came from the “Spirit of the Lord” who would take control of him to enable him to perform amazing feats of physical strength (Judges 14:6,19; 15:14; 16:28-29) Although Samson was a Nazarite he did not live a devoted or separated life. He was careless with his vow to God. He secretly disobeyed the prohibition of approaching a dead body (14:8-9) and had immoral relations with a Gaza harlot (16:1) and with Delilah (16:4-20)
Samson was a headstrong, young man with little or no self-control. None of his exploits show him as a religious leader. Every major clash with the Philistines were brought on by his inappropriate relations with a Philistine women. As a Hebrew man he was to have nothing to do with a Philistine women in the first place. Samson’s fascination with Delilah was his final downfall. The Philistines offered her 1,100 pieces of silver from each of them to find out the source of Samson’s’ strength. In her first three attempts Samson gave her false answers, however he never equated the Philistines binding him each time with Delilah’s betrayal. Finally she coaxes the truth from him and he is captured.
Ultimately Samson proves to be no more than a thorn in the flesh to the Philistines. He never really freed Israel from the dominion of the Philistines.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE LIFE OF SAMSON:
Samson went down to Timnah and saw a Philistine women that he wanted. He insisted that his parents go and get her for him to be his wife. On the way down to Timnah he came upon a lion. The spirit of the Lord came upon him and he tore the lion apart as he would have torn a goat apart. He did not tell his father and mother about the lion. Sometime later Samson and his parents went back to timnah to marry the girl. On the way back he turned aside to go see the carcass of the lion he had killed. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey. He took some of it and ate it and gave some to his father and mother. He did not tell them it came from a dead carcass, which was defiled. When he arrived to get his bride he was given thirty attendants. He told the 30 attendants a riddle. He told them if they could solve the riddle he would give them thirty sets of clothes and thirty linen garments.
The riddle was….Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, and something sweet. They could not solve the riddle so they asked his bride to find out what it was and if she didn’t they would burn her and her father’s household to death. Samson’s wife threw herself on him and begged him to tell her the riddle so she could tell them the answer and save her life and her father’s life. Samson finally told her the answer to the riddle and she told them. They told Samson the answer to the riddle and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power. He went down and struck down thirty of the Philistine men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. He was burning with anger and he went back to his father’s house and left his wife behind. Her Father gave her to the friend that attended Samson at his wedding.
Samson’s decision was opposed by his parents. Samson did not honor his father and his mother as he should have. However the Lord used this (Samson’s bad decision) against the Philistines anyway. When we do not allow God to rule, He will overrule but this is not excuse for sin.
Samson’s next step of disobedience was turning aside to contemplate a past victory ( Prov. 4:27) The honey was defiled by the dead carcass, so Samson was defiled when he ate it. (Numbers 6:6) Beware of defiled honey, no matter how sweet it is. Things may seem sweet on the surface but only bring sorrow and pain into our lives.
Then Samson goes on to defile his parents as well by giving them honey and not telling them it was defiled by the dead carcass. In fact he made a joke of it all at his wedding. His lack of seriousness in obeying God eventually led to his ruin. When all of his plans fell apart he should have turned to the Lord for guidance, instead, he continued on his own determined path. He just would not learn. He followed his own foolish wisdom and desires and it destroyed him.
Some time had passed and Samson want to go and see his wife. He went to her father’s house. He told her father that he wanted to go in to see his wife and the father said, no. The father told Samson that he was sure that he hated her after what she had done to Samson and that he had given her to his friend and she was now his wife. Samson replied, this time I have the right to get even with you. Samson went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail. He fastened a torch to every pair lite the torches and turned them loose in the standing grain fields of the Philistines. He burned up the standing grain, vineyards and olive groves. Samson said….since you have acted like this towards me I will not stop until I get my revenge. He attacked many of the Philistines and slaughtered many of them. The Philistines burned Samson’s wife and father in law to death. Then he went and hid in a cave. The Philistines went up into the Israelites territory to get Samson. The Israelites bound Samson and gave him over to them. As Samson approached Lehi the Philistines came towards him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and the ropes that bound him became as charred flax and fell from his arms. Finding a donkey jawbone he grabbed it and he stuck down a thousand men.
He was very thirsty and cried out to the Lord for water. He said you have given your servant a great victory today. Then the Lord opened up the hollow place in Lehi and water came out of it. When Samson drank his strength returned to him
When life is motivated by retaliation the consequences are usually painful. The father in law retaliated toward Samson by giving away Samson’s bride. Then Samson retaliated by burning the Philistines harvest, the Philistines turned around and burned the bride and her father. Who finally won? Seeking to have the last word inevitably leads to more pain. When we retaliate against our enemies, we invite more suffering.
Then the Israelites were frightened and tried to get Samson out of the way, so they compromised with the enemy rather than declare war. Had Samson been a spiritual man and not just a fighter he would have led his people on to victory. Samson preferred to work alone and not as the leader of God’s people.
Notice, all it took was thirst to remind Samson of his weakness and his total dependence on God. Had he prayed as earnestly for character as he did for physical help, he would have been a better man and a more successful judge of the people. Like the prodigal son, he prayed…”Give me” but he never did pray…”make me!”
One day Samson went down to Gaza where he saw a prostitute. He went in and spent the night with her. The people of Gaza were told that Samson was there and they lay in wait for him to come out. They were going to destroy him. But he did not stay all night, he got up in the middle of the night and left. Sometime later he fell in love with a women named Delilah. The rulers of the city went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. They promised to give her eleven hundred shekels of silver (about 28 pounds). Delilah nagged and nagged him about what the secret was to his great strength. He would tell her a lie each time. He told her three different things that would cause him to lose his strength. Delilah would do what he said but none of them worked, they were all lies. She continued to nag him about it until one day he told her everything. 16:17 says…No razor has ever been used on my head, because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head is shaved my strength will leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man. So Delilah told the Philistines, they came and waited for her to shave his head. While he was sleeping in her lap she called a man to shave off his seven braids and his strength left him. She called out to him and said…Samson, the Philistines are upon you. He woke up from his sleep and thought, I will go out as before and shake myself free. Be he did not realize the Lord had left him. It is possible as a believer to get so out of step with God that we do not realize the difference between the Lord’s presence and His absence. The Philistines grabbed him, gouged out his eyes, bound him and set him to grinding in the prison. One day they brought Samson out to entertain them. Because he was blind he told the servant to place him where he could fill the pillars that supported the temple of the Philistines. The temple was crowded with many men and women, along with all their rulers and on the roof was about three thousand people. Then Samson prayed to the Lord… “O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes. Then he braced himself on the pillars and pushed and the temple came down on all the people, killing them all and killing Samson along with them. NOTE: That Samson was not about God’s business, he was all about himself. “Let me have revenge on them for my two eyes.” Everything he did was self-motivated, and was clearly all about himself. He did not pray for the deliverance of God’s people, never once, but he prayed for the revenge of his two eyes. God used even that to bring judgment upon the Philistines.
Samson was dedicated at birth as a lifelong Nazirite, which meant he could not cut his hair, drink strong wine or touch a corpse. He violated all three restrictions. The Spirit of the Lord gave him incredible strength, but his susceptibility to sensual pleasures demonstrated a profound character weakness. Samson was defeated in life not by his enemies but by his lack of self-control. He killed thousands of enemies but he never lived to realize his potential as a leader of God’s people. It is clear to see from Samson’s experience that he was so caught up in himself and what he thought was right and what he wanted to do that he did not even notice that the spirit of the Lord had left him. It is clear that Samson had a weakness for women. Satan knew that weakness and used it to take advantage of Samson. We all need to be aware of our weaknesses and pray regularly for God to strengthen us in the spots in our lives. Pray ahead of time for God to strengthen us in our weak spots, don’t wait until we are in the thick of battle. Temptation comes to us all. Jesus said, WATCH and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41. This makes it clear that we will all be tempted but we are to watch (be on our guard, be alert) be ready for it. In other words pray ahead of time knowing that it will come to you. The Lord’s Spirit will never leave believers in Christ, but His blessings may. That hinges on our obedience.
DEFILEMENT: God had rescued Samson from so many tight places that he was sure he was invulnerable, so he continued to play with sin and defile himself. Sleeping with prostitutes, touching the dead lion’s body, taking a wife from foreign people, defiling his mother and father, on and on the list goes. Samson never realized that his body belonged to God and how sacred that was.
DECEPTION: The harlot in Gaza deceived him and so did Delilah. You would think that by now Samson would have seen what was going on but he didn’t. He continued to rush into trouble. He continued to do things his own way. Samson’s conscience was defiled and his moral senses were totally destroyed. Samson had deceived himself into thinking that he had everything under control but he was wrong.
DESTRUCTION: V21 shows clearly the blinding, binding and grinding effects of sin. Samson walked in the darkness and he died in the darkness. God forgave him and restored his strength, but he did not restore his sight or his ministry. Samson may have died in victory but he lived in moral and spiritual defeat. He destroyed God’s enemies, but he did not live like God’s friend (john 15:14) what a tragedy.
The life of Samson as recorded in the Bible, is a perfect example of our amazing God who is willing to use all of us….our good intentions and our courageous acts as well as our disobedience and waywardness to accomplish his good purposes.
Samson was set apart by God for special purposes but he never realized his full potential because he never gave God His rightful place in his heart and mind. Samson flirted with the world and lived for his OWN desires. Although Samson did not follow after God and give him His rightful place in his life God never changed, He never wavered from His promises. He kept His promise. I must ask myself how I am like Samson.
Has God given me gifts and talents and set me apart for special things He wants to accomplish through my life but I too am chasing after the things of the world?
Have I given God His rightful place in my life? Is He the driver’s seat in my life?
Am I committed to God having His way in my life or am I committed to doing what I think is best?
Do I cry out to God for deliverance and help only when I get myself into trouble?
Do I spend more time seeking after worldly gain than I do seeking to know my God?
Do I seek to obey God’s Word or wink at sin like Samson did? (He took honey from a dead animal knowing it was wrong, he did not keep himself separated from what was detestable to God. Instead he wallowed in it. ) It appears that Samson really had no sensitivity towards the things of God at all.
God used Samson to accomplish His purposes in spite of Samson’s insensitivity towards God. The tragic thing is that Samson never knew the mighty things God was doing or wanted to do through his life. He never knew the joy that comes from humbling yourself as a servant unto Almighty God. He never reached or saw the fullness of God’s plan for his life. When the presence of God left Samson he did not even know it. So sad! I don’t want to be like that God. I don’t want to live life for myself. I don’t want to live life unaware of your presence. Don’t let me be so caught up in chasing the things of the world that I set You aside. Lord God help me. I want You to be at the forefront of my heart, mind, thoughts, life. You may not have great things planned to do through my life like you did Samson but whatever you do have planned I want you to have your way with me. I want you to be in control of all aspects of my life God. I want life to be about You and You alone.
Even though Samson was like this, it did not change God’s promise to Manoah and Zorah.
SOMETHING THAT IS SO BEAUTIFUL!! Look at what God said about Samson.
Judges 13: 5 God said….the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from Birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines. V7 God said….because the boy will be a Nazarite of God from birth until the day of his death.
Even though Samson did not ever show any respect or honor to the Lord God, God kept His word regarding Samson. God said he is set apart for me and God watched over him and took care of him in spite of his lack of honor towards God. The first time you see any respect or crying out to God for help was at the very end of his life and even then the motivation of his prayer was “for revenge for his two eyes.” Even though Samson lived for himself, God used him, and God honored His word. What an AWESOME GOD we serve!
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