Summary: God uses imperfect people! That's the message of the book of Judges. In the third sermon in this series we see Samson's Rage, Samson's Romances, and Samson's Repentance.
Judges: Ordinary People in the Hands of an Extraordinary God (Samson)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 7/20/2014
Charlie Brown scuttled onto the pitcher’s mound as Lucy took her position behind home plate, ready to warm up before the game. “Are you ready, Charlie Brown? “ Lucy asked. “I’m ready,” Charlie answer. With that Lucy arched the ball across the field. Charlie Brown jumped up and stretched his mitt high into the air, only to get conked in the forehead and knocked flat on his back. Lucy calls out, “Charlie Brown, you’re the worst player in the history of baseball!” Charlie responds, “You can’t possibly know that. You shouldn’t say things you can’t prove.” So Lucy reevaluates her statement, and then calls out, “In all probability, Charlie Brown, you are the worst player in the history of baseball.” Charlie Brown stands up, dusts himself off and says, “I can accept that.”
Nobody’s perfect, are they? We’re all full of faults, flaws and failures.
The Bible is full of ordinary, imperfect people. Story after story is marked by scandal, stumble, and intrigue. Noah drank 'til he passed out. Abraham lied about his marriage and slept with the maid. Sarah laughed at God’s promises. Jacob was a con-man. Leah was ugly. Moses was a murderer. Miriam was a gossip. The list goes on and on. Each one of them had flaws of Biblical proportion. Yet, their faults and foibles are evidence of God’s willingness to use imperfect people. No one demonstrates this better…
If you ever need a reminder of God’s tolerance and love, you’ll find it in these people. If you ever wonder how in the world God could use you to change the world, look at these people—ordinary people in the hands of an extraordinary God. As we leaf through the pages of the book of Judges, we meet someone who is one of the most flawed, imperfect people in all of Scripture. His name is Samson.
When I was a kid attending Sunday School, Samson was my favorite hero of the Bible. God chose Samson from birth to become a hero to his people; a champion who would push back against the oppressive onslaught of their enemies. God infused Samson with superhuman strength, stamina, and invulnerability. Samson had all the makings of a real-life superhero. Sadly, Samson comes off more like a supervillain than a superhero. Unlike fictional superheroes such as Superman, Batman, or Spider-man, Samson never quit learned that with great power comes great responsibility.
In Sunday School lessons, we often gloss over the fact that Samson is a reckless, irresponsible, inebriated jerk who disappoints and endangers the Israelites he is supposed to be protecting. The truth is—Samson had more vices than virtues. He was about as imperfect as they come. Yet, God still used Samson to restore the faith and freedom of his people. If God can find a place for Samson, He just might have a place for us too.
Since the book of Judges devotes more paragraphs and pages to Samson’s story than any other, I won’t be able to cover the whole thing from start to finish; rather I’ll just hit some of the highlights that help round out Samson’s personality. First, Samson experiences frequent fits of rage.
• SAMSON’S RAGE
Scripture first exposes Samson’s rage at his bachelor party. As was the custom back then, Samson threw a week-long party to celebrate his upcoming nuptials and among the guests were thirty Philistine men. Samson loved messing with the Philistines so he proposed a wager: “Let me tell you a riddle. If you solve my riddle during these seven days of the celebration, I will give you thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing. But if you can’t solve it, then you must give me thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing” (Judges 14:12-13 NLT). Well, Samson tells them the riddle and several days go by. As the Philistines grow more and more puzzled by his challenge, they decide to threaten his blushing bride and convince her to tell them the answer. She coaxes it out of her trusting fiancée and reports back to the Philistines. So, before sunset on the last day of the feast, they find Samson and give him the answer to his little brainteaser. Immediately Samson knew that his wife had betrayed him, so he storms out of the celebration fuming with rage. And, the Bible says, “He went down to the town of Ashkelon, killed thirty men, took their belongings, and gave their clothing to the men who had solved his riddle. But Samson was furious about what had happened, and he went back home to live with his father and mother.” (Judges 14:19 NLT).
Since Samson left his bride-to-be standing at the altar, she decides to marry the best man. Several months later, Samson traveled back to Timnah to talk to his ex. When he finds out that she’s already married he again sets out to wreak havoc on the Philistines. “So Samson went out and caught three hundred foxes. He took two foxes at a time, tied their tails together, and then tied a torch to the tails of each pair of foxes. After he lit the torches, he let the foxes loose in the grainfields of the Philistines so that he burned up their standing grain, the piles of grain, their vineyards, and their olive trees” (Judges 15:4-5 NCV). Later the Bible says, “So he attacked the Philistines with great fury and killed many of them” (Judges 15:8 NLT).