6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: The only way to avoid spiritual adultery against God is to humble ourselves enough to obey Him.

One of the most common characters for children to learn about in Sunday School when they are young is Samson. Kids love to hear about the guy who was so powerful that nobody could beat him up. His physical strength was so great that he was able to bring a huge building down by pushing on the columns. Those kids in Sunday School learn how Delilah tricked Samson into letting his hair be cut, and how Samson lost his strength because of that. I remember as a kid thinking that it sounded like magic, that there was something about Samson’s hair that mysteriously gave him strength.

Well it’s possible to hear that story like that when you’re a kid, but as an adult the magical hair idea sounds a little like the talking mirror in Snow White. But if you go back and read the story of Samson in Judges 13-16 (as a matter of fact, I’d encourage you to do that this week), you see that the story isn’t about magical hair at all. Samson’s story is about a man who was supposed to be totally set apart for God’s service, but who never completely gave himself to God. Oh, he toyed with following God, but he had a wandering eye, and every time a choice arose where he had to decide whether to follow God’s will or do his own thing, Samson almost always, in his pride and arrogance, did his own thing.

We first learn about who Samson is supposed to be before he is even born. Listen to Judges 13:2-5,

2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, 5 because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Now you learn a lot about Samson in those verses. One of the main things you learn is about the lifestyle he is supposed to live. He is going to be a special man, a Nazirite. The Old Testament prescribed that a person who took a nazirite vow wasn’t supposed to drink alcohol, and they weren’t supposed to do anything that would make them ceremonially unclean like touch the dead body of a person or an animal. If they did there was a prescribed ritual that they had to go through to become ceremonially clean again. A nazirite also wasn’t supposed to have his hair cut. Those rules might sound strange to us, but they were a way to distinguish a person who was totally set apart to God’s service. Usually a nazirite vow was a temporary thing, something that a person did for a portion of their life. However, there were special cases when God determined that Israel needed a leader who would be dedicated in His service. When that time came, God would command that a man be set apart as a nazirite for life even before birth. John the Baptist and Samuel were two of those special people. Samson was another.

Because of Samson’s special responsibility to lead Israel as a warrior to overcome an occupation by the Philistines, God gave him enormous physical strength. Evidently, he didn’t look like a pro wrestler all bulked up on steroids, but he was so powerful that he could defeat enemies with his bare hands. One time he picked up the jawbone of a donkey and killed 1000 men with it. I’d like to see Steve Austin try to do that! But when you read about Samson’s life, in spite of His incredible potential as a leader set apart by God before birth, in spite of his special gift of miraculous strength, he never became what he could have been. Samson’s life is a textbook case study of unreached potential.

The reason was, Samson loved to flirt with the enemy. He was called by God to defeat the Philistines, these pagan people who lived in Israel’s Promised Land. It was his job to run them out of the Holy Land. But the Philistine lifestyle and culture captivated Samson. Now we have to understand a little background. The Philistines were a sea going people originally from Greece, who migrated to Palestine several hundred years before God gave the Promised Land to Israel. Sometimes when we think of the Philistines we only think of Goliath, a knuckle dragging, nine-foot tall thug. But that not a true picture of what the Philistines were like. They had a highly developed culture. The Philistines had built great cities, where there was a tremendous night-life to enjoy. Their women were sophisticated and beautiful. Not only that, they worshipped a pagan fertility god named Dagon, and part of their worship ritual was to have sexual relations with prostitutes.

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