The Details of Destruction
We have been talking about and examining the 4 chapter account of the The Strongman! An Old Testament Rambo like individual who had great moments of strength and greater moments of weakness. Otherworldly strong and ironically real world weak.
In Week 1 we learned that:
God used The Strongman but didn't change The Strongman. Samson settled for outward demonstration but resisted and failed to submit to inward transformation.
The Strongman loved himself more than anyone else. He would constantly use his gift for his own good, benefit and pleasure although he was called to use his gift for the greater good.
Last week we discussed "The Demands of Deliverance." We said:
Too many of us are back at things that we should be walking away from.
We may be overlooked by man but the least likely are the likely least because God chooses people that can't take the credit.
Deliverance always comes with demands. It is our character that produces our clout. Our separation that generates our strength and our purity produces our power. We must live a delivered lifestyle if we want to produce deliverance.
So now in week 3 I would like to talk to you about The Details of Destruction. I want us to look at several statements that are made about Samson that I think are revealing.
Judges 14:1-3; 16-17, 15:20; 16:1-4, 16
Samson went down to Timnah. There in Timnah a woman caught his eye, a Philistine girl. He came back and told his father and mother, “I saw a woman in Timnah, a Philistine girl; get her for me as my wife.” His parents said to him, “Isn’t there a woman among the girls in the neighborhood of our people? Do you have to go get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?”But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the one I want—she’s the right one.”
So Samson’s bride turned on the tears, saying to him, “You hate me. You don’t love me. You’ve told a riddle to my people but you won’t even tell me the answer.”He said, “I haven’t told my own parents—why would I tell you?” But she turned on the tears all the seven days of the feast. On the seventh day, worn out by her nagging (proof women don't fight fair!), he told her. Then she went and told it to her people.
15:20 - Samson judged Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.
Judges 16:1, 4, 16 - Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute. He went to her. The news got around: “Samson’s here.” They gathered around in hiding, waiting all night for him at the city gate, quiet as mice, thinking, “At sunrise we’ll kill him.” Some time later he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek Grapes. Her name was Delilah. The Philistine tyrants approached her and said, “Seduce him. Discover what’s behind his great strength and how we can tie him up and humble him. Each man’s company will give you a hundred shekels of silver.”
She kept at it day after day, nagging and tormenting him. Finally, he was fed up—he couldn’t take another minute of it. He spilled it.He told her, “A razor has never touched my head. I’ve been God’s Nazirite from conception. If I were shaved, my strength would leave me; I would be as helpless as any other mortal.”
III. The Details of Destruction
The very first glimpse we gain of The Strongman after we are told the Spirit of God stirred in him is in Chapter 14. The first three verses show us that The Strongman had a weakness. He was attracted to Philistine women. His first recorded encounter with one doesn't turn out well. We have discussed that. He tells the wedding attendants a riddle to fool them. These Philistine men threaten the bride to be by telling her that they will kill her and her entire household if she doesn't help them solve the riddle. We will come back to the nagging shortly. But suffice it to say after crying for 7 days she convinces him to tell her the answer. When Samson discovers that the Philistines cheated he exacts revenge on them and then goes to sulk in the hills. When he comes back later to discover that his wife to be has been given to the best man in the wedding he again reacts in anger and takes revenge. When he does this the Philistines kill the woman and her entire family. Then we stumble into Chapter 15 in which Samson takes revenge for this killing by picking up the jawbone of a donkey and killing a 1000 Philistines. Then at the end of Chapter 15 there is an interesting and oft passed over statement. It is almost like the pages go silent for a period of time . . . All of the turmoil of Chapters 14 & 15 and then we are told Samson judged Israel for 20 years. No recorded acts of bravery. No excursions of excess. No feats of strength. A rest. A pause. A break in the action. And then the very first statement out of that break is Samson goes to Philistine country and visits a prostitute! And then not long after that we come to the story of Delilah and once again through prolonged nagging and prying The Strongman's secret is revealed.
I think that one of the reasons that I love the account of The Strongman is because in a very compact account we see the condition of our lives on display. Here are two important details we discover about destruction!
a. Dittos lead to Destruction
In chapter 14, Samson develops an attraction for Philistine women. His first encounter is marked by deception, anger, and death. You would think he would have learned his lesson. You would think after the pain of that encounter that Samson would have learned his lesson. However, the lesson apparently only stuck with him for 20 years! Then the cycle of his life is repeated. His attraction is renewed and pursued. He fails to be self aware enough to know his own weakness and to make the necessary changes or take the necessary precautions to avoid repeated failure! The Strongman was strong but he wasn't strong enough to recognize or break the cycle of his life. His life is destroyed by dittos!
Samson teaches us that it is absolutely essential, a matter of life and death to examine our own life and acknowledge the cycles that we continue to repeat.
Some of you are defeated by the same things over and over and you don't adjust! Some of you remain broke because of the cycle of choices you make. Some of you continue to experience destructive relationships because you fail to recognize the cycle in your attractions. Some of you continue to struggle at work because of the dittos of attitude!
Until we are willing to see that we have tendencies we are at the mercy of our enemy. He will continue to use the same tactics on us for decades and we will fall if we don't see that this is a cycle! You will remember that not too long ago I encouraged you to make your enemy have to switch bait! Samson fell to the same bait every time. He enjoyed a 20 year break and then out of nowhere . . . ditto.
We think he had this experience with his would be wife and then immediately chased down Delilah. The truth is some time had passed and then the very weakness he refused to deal with rises again and now as an older man he falls.
How many of us have failed to deal with an issue, a temptation, a weakness and then when we are 30 or 40 or 50 it comes back around. Something happens when you were 14 and you never stop to deal with it and then when you are 35 . . . ditto! Seeds that were planted and forgotten about sprout unless you deal with the cycle!
After 20 years of break the account says in Judges 16:1, "One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her."
He comes to a One Day moment. David's encounter with Bathsheba starts the same way, One day when kings were supposed to be at war. Each and every one of us will have a one day moment in which we must choose right. Our choice will be determined by whether we have dealt with our weakness the first time. One day you will have the chance to cheat. One day you will have the chance to look. One day you will have the opportunity to lie. One day you will have the opportunity to steal. One day . . . can quickly turn into your worst day if you don't deal with your ditto today!
Your every days will be determined by your one day choices!
One day he is serving Israel faithfully and the then one day he is going to find a prostitute! Who would ever risk so much for so little? No one starts out wanting to be a pervert. No one starts out wanting to be bankrupt. No one starts out wanting to be addicted. But one day will come and you had better make the right choice and taken the steps necessary to kill your weakness before your day arrives. Your one day can arrive and you can look away. Your one day can arrive and you can spend less than you make. Your one day can come and you can refuse the drink or the drug. But to have the power necessary to choose right on the one day you had best figure out the cycles of your life today! Why?
Your logic will be overpowered by your lust if you fail to deal with weakness early and often. That is why Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:12 reminds us to take careful stock of where we stand . . . "Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence."
If cycles are not broken . . . cycles will be repeated! What are your dittos?
b. Delayed destruction is still destruction.
Samson destruction took over 20 years to become a reality! His consistent choices ruined his life one step at a time! We would say that Delilah brought about the destruction. However, that was just the completion of destruction. His destruction was set into motion the on the first day of attraction to the Philistine girl in Chapter 14! Destruction although delayed is still destruction.
We convince ourselves that if destruction is delayed it is no longer destruction. Since our life isn't canonized in 4 chapters we will do things that will have long term impact and act as if they have no impact. Because we live in a society that demands and only values quick and immediate results we fail to think about what happens long term. The Strongman would testify that delayed destruction is still destruction. It may not happen today. It may not happen tomorrow. But your one day will come if you don't stop the destruction today!
The truth that the enemy tries to hide from us is that disobedience still carries a high price. Sin will always take you further, cost you more, and keep you longer than you want to stay. The Strongman reveals that even though we may think we have avoided destruction it is an inevitable destination unless we stop now. The story always ends the same unless we change the storyline today!
What you fail to destroy will destroy you. We play with things that will destroy us.
Samson only plagued the Philistines when his mandate was to destroy them. Remember it was a Philistine giant that would later challenge the armies of Saul. It was the Philistines that would constantly fight the people of Israel. What you fail to kill will kill you. Partial obedience is complete disobedience.
What weakness are you still entertaining? Flirting with? What tendency have you grown so comfortable with that you now minimize the destructive effect in your own mind? It has destroyed but it isn't that bad. It has cost me but not that much. Delilah's path to disclosure reveals this truth. You would think that each time she tried what Samson told her He would have grown increasingly wary. Instead he walks the edge ignoring the danger. She finally and literally nags him to death. It started with nagging and ends with nagging.
Some of you are still playing around with things because you don't see destruction now . . . what about a decade from now? What about in the lives of your children when they are married? What about in your grandchildren when they are faced with similar temptation? What are the nagging things you allow in your life that will ultimately destroy you? Some of you are annoyed by that thing but you do nothing to distance yourself. Some of you are annoyed but you refuse to destroy that thing!
What are the dittos of your life?
What cycle needs to be broken in your life? What choices need to be changed?
What is slowly but certainly destroying your life?
What friendships? What attitudes? What habits?