Summary: This message looks at the story of Samson and how people can deal with narcissism
In November 0f 1998, I began a sermon that had been percolating in my mind for a few days. It was going to be a message about Samson, the Judge from the Old Testament. If you've attended Sunday School or VBS, you know who I mean, the dude with the long hair who was betrayed by Delilah. Sound familiar?
I had heard the song "My Way" on the radio; I'm not sure if it was Sinatra or Elvis singing, although I'm positive it wasn't the Sid Vicious version. You know the song, it begins:
And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I travelled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way
Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
I saw it through, without exemption.
Just a few things that I didn't know about the song, it was written by Canadian songwriter and singer Paul Anka for Frank Sinatra. It became Sinatra's signature song and the song that he's best known for.
Sinatra's daughter Tina said that he came to hate the song, "He didn't like it. That song stuck, and he couldn't get it off his shoe. He always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent." And I thought, well yeah, that was the entire point of the song.
And although I had heard the song many times, this time it kind of stuck, and I thought that would make a great sermon about Samson. At that point, I had been preaching for 19 years and had never preached on Samson. The closest I had ever come was by defending not getting a haircut once by saying the only time a haircut was mentioned in the bible, the guy went blind.
And I thought a great place to start would be to reread Samson's story; it had been a while. It was only three chapters in the books of Judges. And as I read, I just shook my head.
I had always thought of Samson as one of the great heroes of the faith, I had certainly read the story before, but this time I was gobsmacked.
That was when I was much less politically correct than I am now. And I thought this guy was a kook, an absolute head case. At the very best, Samson was a Psychopath and the worst, a sociopath. And so, I preached on something else that week.
This is week 2 of our mental health series at Cornerstone. When we were planning our Spring schedule, the preaching team thought with all that had been going on for the past year that this would be a timely subject.
So, if you were here or at Windgate last week, we looked at Elijah's story and what we could learn about depression from the story. And we looked at how there were several needs that needed to be met in Elijah's life. Spiritual, physical, emotional, and social needs.
Sometimes, it is easy to see folks dealing with mental health issues like depression and anxiety and feel empathy and even sympathy for them.
I concluded my message on depression with a quote from British comedian Stephen Fry. Fry wrote, "It's hard to be a friend to someone who's depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do."
But what about those mental health issues that make a person really unlikeable? When the unscientific diagnosis is that they are jerks, or worse?
The story of Samson begins in the passage that was read for us earlier, Judges 13:2–5 In those days a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah's wife and said, "Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines."
It was such a great beginning, and then the next three chapters chronicle some of his bad behaviour. He lies, he cheats, he kills massive amounts of people and today he would be branded a racist and misogynist, which would be pretty accurate.
In Science Daily, we read, "According to Dr. Eric Altschuler, Samson exhibited six out seven criteria for diagnosis of ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) (as identified by the American Psychiatric Association in its diagnostic bible, the DSM-IV) and a person need only manifest three of the seven criteria to be diagnosed with the disorder."