6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Last week we looked at Abraham. Abraham believed God and he trusted God to lead him even though he didn't know where God was sending him. But we saw that he had his moments of weakness too. Today we'll look at Samson and see how he is just like us.

JUST LIKE US (part three)

Recap: Last week we looked at Abraham. Abraham was a man who believed God and he trusted God to lead him even though he didn't know where God was sending him. He loved God and was willing to obey God when he was told to sacrifice his son Isaac. But we saw that he had his moments of weakness too.

When he was entering Egypt he told his wife Sarah to tell everyone she was his sister because he was afraid that Pharaoh would kill him and take Sarah to be his wife. Then, he did it again when he was in Gerar with King Abimelech. Yet God still blessed him. He was still willing to call Abraham his prophet. God still wants to use us even though we repeatedly make mistakes.

Today we'll look at Samson and see how he is just like us.

1) Strong but weak.

In Judges 13 we read of the angel's birth announcement to Samson's parents. They were told he was to be a Nazirite-set apart from birth. He was not to drink alcohol or cut his hair. You can read about the stipulations of a Nazirite vow in Numbers 6.

Although there were probably many people who took the special Nazirite vow, Samson is the only one to whom this specific term is applied (although the argument can be made that Samuel and John the Baptist were given the Nazirite vow although the specific term wasn't used). It was an honor to be chosen for this special purpose.

Samson grew and the Lord's favor was on him. It wasn't long before we see both Samson's great power and great weakness. In chapt. 14 Samson married a Philistine woman. While they were having the seven-day feast, Samson posed a riddle for his Philistine companions to solve by the end of the feast, with the prize being a new set of clothes for each of them.

They worked over Samson's new wife to get him to reveal the answer. She wears him down and he tells her (this won't be the last time Samson caves in to a woman's pleading). They give Samson the answer and he knows what they did.

Judges 14:19-20, "Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father’s house. And Samson’s wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding."

We see here that the Lord was behind his great power. It wasn't because he ate his Wheaties or worked out, it was because of the Holy Spirit. Normally we see Samson depicted as this big, strong muscular fellow. But actually, it's understood that Samson was of an average size and build. This makes sense because this is what God does. He takes normal people and does the extraordinary through them.

The religious leaders were amazed that the Apostles knew what they knew because they were 'unschooled, ordinary men', as Acts 4:13 puts it. God wants people to wonder how his people can do what they do so that people can point them to God and give him the glory. What God equipped Samson to be able to do is a sign of what can be accomplished for us in the power of the Holy Spirit-not amazing physical feats of strength but spiritual ones.

The last verse plays a key role in the next specific incident. Samson cools off and goes back to get his wife and her father basically tells him he didn't think he wanted her anymore so he gave her to the best man at the wedding. Samson retaliates by going out and catching 300 foxes, ties their tails together in pairs, fastens a torch to each pair and sends them off into their fields to burn their crops.

The townspeople learn who was behind this and why so they went and killed Samson's wife and her father. Samson reacts to that by viciously attacking them. Then the Philistines camp out and the men of Judah asked them what this was all about and they told them they were looking for Samson to get back at him for what he did.

Judah sends 3,000 men to get Samson, if that's any indication to the threat Samson posed against anyone who wanted to take him on. Samson allows them to tie him up and take him to the Philistines. But when the Philistines came toward him, 15:14 says the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power and he broke the bindings and with the jawbone of a donkey struck down 1,000 men.

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