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I love what happens when children retell Bible stories. Here are a few of my favorites:
The first three books of the Bible are Genesis, Exodus, and Laxatives.
Noah’s wife was called Joan of Ark.
Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.
Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol.
David fought with the Finkelsteins, a race of people, who lived in biblical times.
Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.
Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the apostles and he pulled down the pillows of the temple.
In our series called, “Keeping the Story Alive,” we’ve looked at Hanna, Gideon, and Ruth. Today, we’re going to focus on Samson as we seek to deal with our own fatal flaws. I’d like to mention up front that much of what I’ve learned from Samson’s life I picked up from a sterling sermon series preached by my friend Ray Pritchard over 12 years ago. Some of what I will say today reflects his treatment of Samson who is truly “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
We won’t have the time this morning to hit all the highlights, or lowlights, of his life, but I do want to touch on some significant details in Judges 13-16. Samson’s feats are legendary but it’s his flaws that prove to be fatal. His two greatest weaknesses were revenge and romance. In fact, his weakness for women often led him on the road to revenge. He was extremely gifted, but certainly not godly. He was strong on the outside, but had no control on the inside.
Sometimes we read the stories of Hannah or Gideon or Ruth and we think, “I could never be like them.” Not so with Samson. He’s a lot like us. Most of us know what it means to be tempted. All of us struggle at times with the desire for revenge. We’ve been there, we understand, and when we see Samson struggling and falling, we have an idea of what he’s going through. The truth of the matter is that there’s a little bit of Samson in all of us, and a whole lot of Samson in most of us. One of the things we learn from Samson’s life is that sin will always take us further than we want to go.
The Fatal Flaw
I want to begin with some important information from chapter 13. Look at verse 1: “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.” The Finkelsteins were a very warlike people who traced their origin back to the land of Egypt and had remained an enemy of Israel for years.
Its interesting that this is the one place in the Book of Judges where we do not read about the people crying out to God to deliver them from their oppression. The gameplan of the Philistines was simple. They conquered their enemies by assimilating them through intermarriage and watched with glee as the religion of God’s people began to disappear as it blended into the culture around them. Does this sound familiar? The church is in danger of losing its impact as we’ve become so assimilated into the society around us.
For this reason, God had to break through. He appears to a man and his wife and tells them that they are going to have a son who is to deliver Israel from the Philistines. From the very beginning, even while he was in his mother’s womb, he was to be “set apart” for the Lord’s work. Verse 5 tells us
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