This study is based on Hebrews 11:32, “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:”
Samson is one of the most famous characters in the Bible. Which children’s Bible story does NOT talk about him? He’s known for his incredible strength. There is \mMuch good, but he is also an infamous character! Famous for the wrong reasons as well. Many things of what also NOT to do!
Judges spends about 3 chapters on him, 4 chapters if you include the story of his parents and his birth.
- Judges 13 – the birth of Samson.
- Judges 14 – Samson, his wife and a riddle.
- Judges 15 – Samson, foxes and a donkey’s jawbone.
- Judges 16 – Samson and Delilah.
There are important lessons to be learnt from each chapter. Let’s begin in Judges 13.
- Judges 13:1
And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.
- This was the background. The judge dies, the children of Israel go back into sin.
- You know we can fall into this trap. We think that it is always dependent on a judge or a particular leader. If we have a good pastor, or better elders, or if we have a better mission leader, etc. But what the book of judges shows us over and over again, is it really isn’t about a leader. The problem is the people put their faith in the leader and not in God. It is not the leaders fault.
- Sometimes we like to say that he didn’t train any people properly. But sometimes, it is just the hardness of the hearts of the people. They look at the visible form too much and not to the unseen God above!
So they go back into sin. And God in His mercy is about to send another judge!
- Judges 13:3-5
3 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 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.
- Notice, it isn’t just a strict requirement for Samson. He is famous for not cutting his hair. But even the mother had to be temperate! Don’t drink wine or strong drink. Don’t eat any unclean food.
- How important temperance is. How important what we eat and drink is. Sometimes we think that it is non-essential. But we see throughout the Bible examples of those that have come under the power of intemperance which became their downfall!
- Adam and Eve!
- Aaron’s sons – Nadab and Abihu – burning strange fire in the sanctuary because they were drunk.
- Eli’s sons – Hophni and Phinehas also drinking wine.
- Belshazzar and the fall of Babylon.
- Parents, we must awake to the realization that what we feed our children and even ourselves, will determine their outcome in the future. If we don’t train ourselves and our children to learn to abstain from those things which are bad now, we are laying for them a very dangerous future in which they will not be able to control themselves in other things! How important temperance is.
- Not sure where to start and how? Then let’s do as Samson’s dad did – Manoah:
- Judges 13:8
Then Manoah intreated the Lord, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.
- If you ask in prayer, God will answer! The angel came and made the instruction clear and taught them how to raise the child and how to live as well.
- Judges 13:8
- Friends, if we truly want to know how to live properly in how to glorify God with our bodies, and we sincerely ask in prayer, I believe that God will answer!
- Let’s continue.
1 And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 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.
- What caused Samson to just all of a sudden come to his parents and tell them that he wanted to marry this Philistine girl? You see, Samson lived in the town of Zorah. That’s where he grew up. And Zorah was right next to Timnath which was a Philistine city. He was always going over and making friends of the Philistines! The parents of Samson were heartbroken and tried to persuade him from doing such a foolish act but he wouldn’t listen!
- Judges 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.
Yet there would be good that would come out of it.
- Judges 14:4
But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.
- It’s not that Samson was doing this to fight against the Philistines. It is that the Lord used Samson’s foolish decision to turn it around for good. God was still with Samson, but he had already set his feet in the wrong path. God’s Spirit was still with him. We read:
- Judges 14:5-6
5 Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. 6 And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
- He goes on to marry this young Philistine woman. And during his marriage feast, he puts forth a riddle to 30 men. If they can solve the riddle then Samson owed them a garment each. If not, then they had to give him a garment each. They couldn’t figure it out until they come to his wife to threaten her and she gets the answer from Samson. So at the end, Samson owes them a garment each.
- So what does he do?
- Judges 14:19
And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.
- Notice, the Spirit of the Lord was still with Samson. In spite of all that he had done in marrying this Philistine woman, God was still with him. It should have been obvious that he had made the wrong choice. He is upset at her, and he leaves her for a while.
- The Spirit of the Lord coming on Samson is only mentioned 3 times in his life story. We have already read it 2 times. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him to tear the lion apart. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him to kill thirty men and take their garments.
- Notice there the first 2 times had nothing to do with God. It was all about self. Especially the second time – because he lost a bet and the others found out the answer to his riddle. His strength was being used for selfish purposes thus far.
- I would have some trepidation, some fear, to follow a judge like this.
- What was the problem with Samson thus far? It was whom he chose to be friends with. It was whom he chose to associate with. He chose ungodly friends, so he ended up marrying an ungodly woman. He did not ask whether he could better glorify God when united with the object of his choice. If we honour God, God has promised that He would honour us. But there is no promise found on those bent on pleasing themselves.
When Samson finally relents and comes back looking for his wife, he finds out that she has married someone else already. Upon hearing that, he gets angry and goes and catches 300 foxes, and gets them to run through their fields with fire attached to their tails. Ends up burning a whole lot of their corn, vineyards and olive crops. In retaliation the Philistines kill his wife, or I should say ex-wife, and the father by burning them alive. Because of this Samson ends up fighting them and killing many of the Philistines. This is the short summary of Judges 15.
What is amazing is this:
- Judges 15:14-15
14 And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. 15 And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
- The Spirit of the Lord came upon him. God was still with him.
Was Samson fighting the battles of the Lord?
- If we took a step back, maybe we could say yes. And we could say no.
- Yes – because he was killing the Philistines, the enemies of God’s people.
- We could say no, that he was not fighting the battles of the Lord because of the motivation behind it. He wasn’t fighting them because God had come to him like Gideon or Deborah and Barak with clear instruction to go and fight. He was fighting because he was angry.
- Firstly – because he had been deceived by his wife and he owed 30 men garments.
- Secondly – because his wife was given to another man.
- Thirdly – because of the burning of his ex-wife and father he went and killed more people.
- Look, he was fighting against the enemy of God’s people, but he was doing it out of a selfish motive, a personal grudge or personal mission. He just HAPPENED to be fighting against whom God wanted him to fight against. So it was a yes and a no.
At the end of Chapter 15 the Bible says this:
- Judges 15:20
And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.
- He was still the judge of Israel. As I said earlier, I would have been fearful to follow a man like this – who was so ruled by his passions. Yet this story is not over.
Judges 16:1, 4
1 Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her. 4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.
- If you know the story, we know that this woman would be the downfall of the great judge of Israel. You know when we are so taken with our passions, it really does blind us.
- The Philistines come and make a pact with her.
- Judges 16:5
And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.
- It was so obvious that she was working against him.
- Judges 16:7
And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
- So she does it. It doesn’t work. Come on, it’s not be chance that you tell this woman your quote, unquote, secret and then it happens. I’m telling you, when we are caught up with passion, and it is burning hot in us, we become blind. We lose all sense of reason!
- Judges 16:7
- It doesn’t work and so she asks again. He tells her another false reason for the secret of his strength.
- Judges 16:11
And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
- Happens again! The second time! She ties him with ropes. Of course it doesn’t work!
- Judges 16:11
- Judges 16:13
And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound. And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web.
- Happens once more! It should have been obvious from the first time that this woman didn’t love you. It should have DEFINITELY been obvious the second time! The third time it happens? This is not luck anymore. Samson should have high-tailed out of there! That’s how blind shallow love is, or lust as I should say.
- Finally, he gave in and told her all his heart about his hair. In came the soldiers and we read:
- Judges 16:20
And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.
- Judges 16:20
- The Lord had left him. Not because of his hair. There was nothing special about his hair. But because of his disobedience. He would be taken and his eyes plucked out and made to hard labour in the prison house of the Philistines. And obviously with no eyes to see, Samson had much time to think about his past life of mistakes.
- Isn’t that what happens to us sometimes? When we have the strength of our youth, we have NO TIME to think. We just move forward, pushing everything and sometimes people out of our way to achieve our goals and desires. But then when disaster strikes, God gives us all the time in the world to think and more than anything else – to repent.
Over time though his hair would grow back. Samson regains his strength. And then the Philistines throw this party and apparently a LOT of people are there. He asks God for help again!
- Judges 16:28-30
28 And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. 29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. 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.
- Samson accomplished in his death, more than he had ever accomplished in his life. The number of Philistines that were killed at that party were more than he had ever killed in his life! That sounds like God making up for all of Samson’s mistakes and showing him what he could have accomplished much more had he been faithful to him! Yet God in His mercy, grants Samson his prayer and works through him one last time.
- It seems like this is the first time that Samson has done something not out of passion or out of spite or anger or anything to do with self!
Where then is the faith of Samson? Seems like there is nothing good to talk about at all except until the end. And that’s the truth! More often than not, Samson’s life has been more about what NOT to do rather than what to follow. His story has been about God’s providence vs Man’s will.
He had physical strength, intellectual vigour, and moral purity which came from his parents and his upbringing. But his weakness was his evil associates and his lust of women. Such it was with the Israelites and the Midianite women.
This is the power that women have when they are enlisted into the service of Satan. A power to destroy souls.
- Joseph was tempted in such a way with Potiphar’s wife yet he came out victorious.
- David stumbled with Bathsheba.
- Solomon, the wisest of all kings became a slave to passion with his many wives and concubines.
- And it was here that Samson also fell. If we wilfully place ourselves under the power of temptation and mingle with evil men and women we will fall sooner or later.
Yet the saving grace is this. God was still willing to work through the little faith that Samson had at the end. And in the end, he accomplished more through that little act of faith, than all the strength of his manhood and him judging Israel for 20 years! More Philistines died in that one act, than all his life!
Samson could have been so much more.
And today I want to ask – could you be so much more than you are right now?
- Have you wasted away the hours in playing when you could have been studying or reading, or working, or doing something more productive?
- Have you wasted your money on frivolous things, things that bring temporary joy in this life, when it could have been put to more meaningful pursuits – if even it only means that you save so that you can give more to God in the future? Whether it be through your own life or money?
- We don’t have to live with regret if we learn to live in the moment, and not take the gifts that God has given us for granted.
- That’s what Samson did though. He didn’t treasure the literal strength that God gave him. He used it to attract the women, and to have fun and games with people in the world. And only at the end, when he was blind, a prisoner, leaning against those great pillars of the house of the Philistines that he was willing now, probably the first time in his life, to use the strength that God gave Him for God’s glory and His glory alone.
My prayer today is, that we would quickly realise God’s providence for each of our lives is not to be used for worldly gain, for selfish purposes and pursuits. But it is to be used for God’s glory and His alone.
And this is where faith comes in. It will teach us to use our talents and gifts from God wisely. It will keep us on the straight and narrow path. It will give us abundant life, joy and fulfilment here today. And it will give us hope and a longing for the future immortal life too. May God teach each of us to use our gifts aright today for God’s glory!