Summary: We can all relate to the inconsistencies in Samson's life to at least some degree. In this message we learn about the anointing of God; the consequences of sin and the potential benefits of God's correction, and the grace of God and how God's redemptive mercy.
We are learning from the life of Samson as recorded in Judges 13-16. In your personal time I encourage you to read those four chapters since we can’t take time to do that in these two sermons.
Last week we examined the call God placed on Samson’s life before he was born. We saw the connection between the consecration of his parents and Samson’s call to begin the deliverance of Israel from the oppression of the Philistines. Samson was to be a life-long Nazarite. The conditions for that vow are recorded in Judges 6. Samson was to partake of no wine or anything from the grapevine. He was to never cut his hair which symbolized his consecration to God.
Samson did well with his Nazarite vow when he was growing up under the instruction and guidance of his parents. There are indications that they were indulgent parents who failed to teach Samson the disciplines needed to fulfill his vow as an adult.i But we don’t see Samson violating the vow prior to adulthood. Judges 13:24 says, “So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.”ii There is no indication in that of any violation of the vow. As he reached adulthood verse 25 says, “And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him. . . .”
But Chapter 14 begins with the statement, “Now Samson went down to Timnah. . . .” Here his spiritual decline begins. His first compromise was hanging out with the uncircumcised Philistines.iii In that place of compromise, he saw a Philistine woman that he wanted. The insistence on having her initiated a series of conflicts with the Philistines which God used toward His purposes. But the motive in Samson and the Philistines was vengeance which perpetuated the conflict.
In Samson’s life we see him literally traveling back and forth between the Israelite camp and the Philistine camp. It was behavior typical of the Christian playing both sides of the fence: one foot in the church and the other foot in the world, trying to get the best of both worlds. Samson was a double-minded man, and James 1 tells us that way of life disqualifies us from a blessed life. Samson’s story is a warning for all of us to stay faithful to our vows, avoid compromise, and live consecrated to God. In Judges 14-15 we see Samson compromising his dedication to God. That is taking him in the wrong direction.
Today we will examine two more Compromises recorded in Judges 16. Then we will see the Consequences of his compromises. And finally, we will consider the Conquest that God gives at the end after he repents.
I. Two significant COMPROMISES are recorded in Judges 16.
I doubt these are the only compromises Samson made during this time. But they were the two most notable ones.
First, in Judges 16:1 we read, “Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.” How can a person do such a thing? He has been used by God mightily. God has empowered him to defeat 1,000 Philistines. God has supernaturally preserved his life by giving him victory over the Philistine army, victory over the lion, and water from the rock. And what does Samson do? He goes to a prostitute in Gaza. The inconsistency is shocking.
What happens next is even more shocking. The Philistines found out he was there and surrounded the place. They were positioned to kill him the next morning. But Judges 16:3 says Samson “arose at midnight, took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts, pulled them up, bar and all, put them on his shoulders, and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.” The weight of those gates is estimated to be at least 5,000 pounds. Samson carried them 38 miles.iv It was a supernatural feat.
The divine anointing was still working in his life. God does not remove the anointing immediately when a person sins. There is often space for repentance.v The lack of immediate judgement is often misinterpreted by the individual and by observers. Some think the anointing was not real since they know there was sin in the person’s life. Others, including the individual, may conclude that the sin is not as offensive to God as they first thought. They don’t understand that God is being longsuffering to give the person a chance to repent. Ultimately no sin goes unpunished. But the punishment seldom happen immediately. Paul addresses this misunderstanding of God’s patience in Romans 2:4. He asks the person who is sinning, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds.’” Don’t presume upon God’s longsuffering and forbearance. Payday comes to everyone in due time. We will see that in Samson’s life.