Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Story of God: Samson

Not long after Gideon died, God’s people forgot Him…again.  God allowed the enemy people group called the Philistines to conquer them.  But as always, God's love moved Him to rescue His people.

God sent news to a couple who had not been able to have a child.  They would be parents!  Their son would be set apart for a special purpose.  As a result, the woman was instructed to stay away from alcohol and unclean food.  Her son would be a Nazarite.  Nazarites took special vows and lived differently than most.  Their Nazarite son would abstain from alcohol, stay away from any dead creature, and let his hair grow long.  These vows would be a reminder to him, and a sign to the rest of the people that he had been chosen by God for a special purpose.  In this young man's case, He would rescue Israel from Philistia.

Months later, the miracle happened.  They boy was named Samson.  Almost immediately, God’s Spirit “began to stir” in Samson.

Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.”
3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”  Judges 14:1-3

On another trip to Timnah, a lion came at him.  He wrestled it and tore it apart with his hands.  Not fitting for a Nazarite.

Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. 9 He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.  Judges 14:8-9

When they arrived, it was time for the bachelor party.  Samson and about 30 Philistine men partied.  At the party, Samson told a riddle:  “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.” Samson said. “If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can’t tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.”  For three days they could not figure it out.

On the fourth day, they said to Samson’s wife, “Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father’s household to death. Did you invite us here to steal our property?” 16 Then Samson’s wife threw herself on him, sobbing, “You hate me! You don’t really love me. You’ve given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.” “I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother,” he replied, “so why should I explain it to you?” 17 She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people.  Judges 14:15-17

The men approached him and said, “Honey!”  Samson said, “You only know because you pressured my wife.”  The Spirit of the Lord was on Samson killed 30 other men and gave their clothes to the men at the bachelor party.  In anger, he returned him.  The bride's father, made the decision to give Samson's wife to another man.

Later, we returned to see his wife.  He discovered she had been given to another.  He caught a few hundred foxes tied their tails together, attached a torch, and set them on fire in a field of wheat.

The Philistines wanted to kill him Samson.

Samson’s people wanted nothing to do with him.

He allowed the Israelites to tie him up and turn him over to the enemy.  But when the Philistines came to get him, Samson grabbed a bone and slayed a thousand!

Eventually, he fell in love again.  Her name was Delilah.  The men of the city went to her and offered to pay her if she could discover and reveal the secret of Samson’s strength.

Night after night, she tried to trick him.  Night after night, he lied to her.

Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it. 17 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”  Judges 16:15-17

Delilah sold him out.  She put him to sleep in her lap and had someone shave the braids from his hair.  “And his strength left him.”

Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.   Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.   Judges 16:21-22

The Philistines organized a celebration to their god, Dagon.  Samson had been defeated!  There were approximately 3,000 people. Everyone was drunk.  Samson was summoned.  They wanted to parade him around and mock him.  As everyone laughed, Samson asked a servant to lead him to one of the columns so he could lean for support.

Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.   Judges 16:28-30

This ended Samson’s 20-year reign as judge of Israel.

Samson’s lack of self-control and inability to walk away was nearly the lasting legacy.

Because he could not restrain Himself, he eventually found himself restrained in chains.

How can we develop self-control?

Keep your calling in your heart
God had created Samson with purpose.  He lost his way when he forgot his calling.  He was called to be the physical, emotional, and spiritual leader of God's people!

Doing anything other than what you were called to do will never fulfill you.  You have a created purpose. You have specific gifts.  Pursue your calling!

Keep your promises on your mind
Samson had taken the vows of a Nazarite.  He broke every one of those vows.

To whom have you made promises?  God?  Your spouse?  Your kids?
Recommit to being a promise keeper!

Keep your dreams before your eyes
Israel had a bright future.  All Samson had to do was stay on course. Our most epic fails happen when we take our eyes off the future.  When we forget that our present decisions determine our future.  Every time Samson walked past something new or shiny, he just couldn't help himself!

We must develop the skill of knowing when to look down and pick up and when to look up and press on. Mark my words, whatever has your attention will soon steal your devotion.

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