Summary: a lesson from Samson in dropping our guard
They were an old couple who decided to go to the doctor as they were having more and more problems remembering things. The doctor gives them each a physical and says, "You're in great health for your age. You're just slowing down a bit, that's all. It's nothing serious. If you’re worried about forgetting something, just write it down." The couple, relieved, returns home. That night the wife says, "Honey, would you mind getting' me some ice cream?" The husband smiles and says, "Not at all." The wife says, "Should you write it down?" The husband says, "Don't be silly, the kitchen is right there. I won't forget that fast." The wife says, "Ok, but I also want whipped cream. Think you can remember that?" The husband says, "Whipped cream on top of ice cream. That's easy." The wife then says, "But I'd also like chocolate syrup, chopped nuts, and a cherry on top. That's an awful lot, dear. Maybe you should write it down." The old man, getting a bit annoyed, says, "I've got it! Ice cream with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, chopped nuts, and a cherry on top. I'll be right back." He walks into the kitchen. Minutes pass, and the wife hears clattering sounds coming from the other room. She waits and waits and waits, and finally starts to get up to see what is happening when her husband walks back carrying a plate of hot scrambled eggs. The wife looks at the plate and says, "See, I told you to write it down, you forgot my toast!"
As I get older and forget more and more things, that story is less and less funny. Of course, it wont be long before I forget the story so I don’t guess it really matters. However, when it comes to the life lessons of The Bible, that is something we can ill afford to forget. Concerning the wanderings of the children of Israel, Paul said in 1CO 10:6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. That is why all the unsavory details of the Bible characters are included, so that we thousands of years later, can learn from their mistakes. It has been said, that experience is the best teacher, but it just doesn’t have to be your experience. So this morning I would like deviate from our normal verse by verse study and do a sort of character sketch on one of the most confusing characters in all of Scripture.
In a speech broadcast October 1,1939 Sir Winston Churchill described the Russians as a riddle wrapped up in a mystery inside an enigma.". But what he said about Russian actions could also be applied to Samson, the last of the Judges, a man with almost limitless potential who instead squandered his life though failure and compromise.
So I ask you to turn with me in The Old Testament to the book of Judges chapters 13 through 16. It is during this period in Judges that Samson arrives on the scene. Samson is the best known judge of all the judges. He was the last judge written of and we learn more details of Samson’s life than we do any of the other judges. Now some of the Judges in this book are only given one verse in relation to their rule but Samson is given 4 entire chapters so I think it wise that we consider the importance of the lesson God is trying to teach us from Samsons life.
His story is the longest in the book and in some ways the most difficult to understand. Samson is a very odd fellow indeed! If you read much of the Bible, you have probably heard of Samson and know that his story is not one that actually inspires righteous living. His life was characterized by lust, anger, petulance, and revenge. Samson was sort of the Mike Tyson of the ancient world: a very powerful, threatening, out-of-control, and self-centered man. In the life of Samson, the cycle of a compromising, inconsistent life is personified and fully illustrated. We won’t have the time this morning to hit all the highlights, or maybe more appropriately the lowlights, of his life, but I do want to touch on some significant details because I think we can learn many life lessons from his life. I would like us to look at his life in a 3 act play, because in essence Samsons life can be viewed in 3 stages. First we will read of his strength, then we will read of his seduction and finally we will read of his sacrifice and as we survey his life, we will see that Samson is a powerful example of wasted potential. You might sum up Samson’s life as follows: a thrilling supernatural birth, a turbulent self-indulgent life, and finally a tragic premature end. Lets begin by looking at