Summary: Samson was a man of extreme contradictions: flawed yet favored. This message explores his Calling and his Compromises drawing lessons for our own lives.
The title of today’s message is “A Flawed Human Being.” Do we have any flawed human beings here today? If so, this message is for you. If you are a perfected little angel, you probably won’t be able to identify with this sermon.
One of the amazing truths in Scripture is that God’s loves flawed people. His grace flows to the low places. He extends His hand of mercy to people who know their need for that mercy. Jesus told the Pharisees, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matt. 9:13).i He was talking to self-righteous people. He was talking to people who were sinners but did not acknowledge their sin. They were too busy portraying themselves as righteous. The first step toward knowing God is acknowledging our need for His mercy and grace. We must all come to Him on bended knee of humility. We must all come confessing our sin and asking for forgiveness. God’s salvation is for flawed people. That’s good news for you and me!
Today we will examine the life of a flawed human being. He was a bundle of contradictions. On the one hand, he was a person of great strength. He was used by God in a mighty way. On the other hand, he was a person with glaring weaknesses. He compromised his calling and brought reproach on his own life and disappointment to those he loved.
Nobody fits that description more clearly than Samson; a man flawed yet favored. A man who did mighty things in God yet dishonored God by his own sinfulness. There are some instructive surprises in the way God dealt with Samson. We can learn from his life. That’s why God gives us biographies like this in Scripture.
I. We begin with Samson’s CALLING.
God placed a call on this man’s life before he was born.ii God was the initiator of this calling. The wife of a Danite named Manoah was barren. We are not told her name in Scripture. The Jewish rabbis gave her a name in the Midrash. Some claimed she was from the tribe of Judah. They considered her one of “the twenty-three truly upright and righteous women who came forth from Israel.”iii But from Scripture we don’t know much about her.
The story begins with an Angel appearing to her. The first words the Angel said to her were: “. . . you are barren” (Judges 13:3). You have tried and failed. You cannot bring about what is about to happen. The day you got saved God said something like that to you. You had to recognize your sinfulness. You had to acknowledge your inability to save yourself. Titus 3:5 reminds us of the way we got saved: “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” The miracle of the new birth follows our impotence. The miracle of Samson’s birth followed the barrenness of this couple.
Many believe the Angel which appeared to Samson’s mother was the pre-incarnate Christ. There is nothing in the story that is inconsistent with that. “Manoah said to his wife, [in Judges 13:22] ‘We shall surely die, because we have seen God!’” So, he felt they had seen God. Manoah’s wife calmed him down with this reasoning in Judges 13:23: “If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have told us such things as these at this time.”
The promise that she would have a son came to pass and they named the child Samson. The Hebrew word means “like the sun.”iv This child was the “sunshine” of their lives. Can you imagine how this child brightened up their lives?
Samson was called to be a life-long Nazarite. He was to drink no wine or eat anything unclean. He was to never cut his hair as a symbol of his consecration to God.v The terms of the Nazarite vow were given to them by Moses in Numbers 6 and explained to them by the angel (Judges 13). Samson’s parents taught these conditions to their son. He seems to have stayed true to the vow while he was growing up. Judges 13:24 says, “and the Lord blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.”
This calling was initiated by God at a time when Israel was in a backslidden condition. God always has a remnant of people who fear Him and serve Him. But as a whole the spiritual condition of the nation was extremely low. God did not raise up Samson because Israel was diligently seeking Him. He raised up Samson when Israel desperately needed His grace. The Joshua generation had conquered the land. They did not drive out all the enemies. But they did successfully enter the Promise Land under Joshua’s leadership. Judges 2 records the death of Joshua and the passing of his generation. Then in Judges 2:10 we read these words: “another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” That explains a lot about the condition of Israel at the time Samson was born. The previous generation had failed to teach their children the things of God. The new generation did not know God, and they did not know the history of what God had done for those people.