Summary: Comic book character? Super human? Incredibly strong. Incredibly flawed. The Strongman teaches us strong lessons.

The Strongman

Pt. 1- Fatal Flaws

I. Introduction

He has captured the imagination of Hollywood and Christians alike. He comes off like a comic book hero and a superhuman. A real life Hercules whose strength is legendary. He was otherworldly strong and ironically real world weak. His story continues to intrigue and impact our society today. How many little boys do you know named Samson or little girls named Delilah? However, what is interesting to me about Samson is that for all the movie star treatment and long running attention his story in Scripture is rather short. In fact, the entire account of Samson plays out in 4 short chapters in Judges. Over the course of the next few weeks on Sundays (and our youth on Wednesdays) we are going to learn some lessons from The Strongman. We will dive into some of the very specific moments of his life. However, this morning I want to back out and take an overview of his life.

It may be of some importance for us to know the backdrop against which Samson appears on the national scene of Israel. What is obtained easily seldom has much value attached to it! The Children of Israel easily, with help of God, have escaped the grip of slavery to Egypt and have now graduated to obtaining the Promised Land. But obtaining is easier than maintaining (there is a lesson right there for you men pursuing that dream girl)! After settling into promise the Israelites forget God (word - how many of us are diligent in prayer, service, and worship until we get what we have asked for and then the thing that got us what we longed for is forgotten and replaced?)! The Israelites turn from God so, God allows the Philistines to arrive on the scene and for forty years, including the 20 years of Samson’s tenure as a Judge, they war against the Chosen Ones. The people willingly accept the domination of their enemies! No resistance. No rebellion. No uprising. They simply give in. How many of us fall into this same trap? Chained and complacent. Handcuffed and happy. Snared and silent! Twenty years into the domination Samson walks onto the national stage. There is an encouraging truth in this! God always prepares deliverance before He allows temporary devastation! He disciplines us but refuses to allow us to be destroyed! If you are being disciplined. If you are being devastated, then just hold on . . . that means deliverance is not far behind!

So Samson arrives as God’s appointed and selected Strongman.

II. Text

Judges 13:24-25

24 Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the Lord blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

III. The Flaws

This passage is the first glimpse into God’s use of Samson and the impartation of the Spirit in his life. We will back up and deal with the Demands of Deliverance later. But let’s look quickly at the other 3 distinct times where we are specifically told that the Spirit of God came upon Samson. There are other instances (especially during the Delilah sequence) where we aren’t even told that the Spirit of God came up on him but his great acts of strength would attest to the fact that that is indeed what took place.

Spirit came upon him:

Judges 14:6 - When attacked by a young lion. In a place he should not have been, going somewhere he should not be going to be with someone he should not be with.

Judges 14:9 - When Philistines cheated to figure out riddle. He is about to marry one of his enemies and in a macho, I am smarter than you moment, he challenges 30 Philistine men to figure out a riddle. They cheat to get the answer by threatening his fiancé and her family. He kills 30 men for their clothes to pay the debt he owed because the men solved the riddle.

Judges 15:14 - When his fiancé is given to his best man Samson retaliates by tying foxes tail-to-tail and sets them on fire and destroys the Philistines fields. In response to this the Philistines are about to destroy an entire Israelite community and so they beg Samson to allow them to turn him over. So they tie him up with ropes and give him to the Philistines. Then, he breaks out of the ropes and with the jaw bone of a donkey he kills 1,000 Philistines.

So from this panoramic view of Samson’s life what we discover is that consistently, over a 20 year period, this Strongman is used by God. So infiltrated by the power and anointing of God that he lives up to the superhuman, comic book character!

Samson, of all the Old Testament characters, knew what it was like to sense and experience the incredible manifestation of God’s power in his life. He knew what it was like to feel God run through his veins; turn his bare hands into weapons, and to funnel the very strength of God Himself!

The anointing was obvious on his life. Friend and foe alike recognized the Spirit of God on his life.

Can you imagine being used like that?

The answer is yes. Although you may never tear the gates of a city off of its hinges with your bare hands or use the jaw bone of a donkey as a weapon. Although you may not feel like or believe that your feats of strength deserve to be considered or listed alongside the resume of Samson the truth is that the anointing is the same. The results are the same. The obviousness of the anointing is the same.

When you take the mic, sing the song, serve the people, witness through adversity, when you hold on against hell, when you trust God for your provision, when you continue through what would crush others, when you offer hope to the hurting you are in the same league as Samson. People recognize that something is different. So even though we may not look like a superhero we too have been set apart and chosen. We are used by God!

And yet The Strongman’s life is a cautionary because he had 2 fatal flaws. We must learn. We must avoid!

A. The Strongman was used by God but remained unchanged by God.

For all of Samson’s anointed moments, seeing miracles, winning against all odds, seeing the enemy routed and great victories won, feeling the Spirit of God come upon him . . . as used by God as he was his moments of God power had no bearing or influence on his daily decisions and choices.

Being used by God had no bearing on:

1. His geography. He was a Nazarite he wasn’t even supposed to be in a vineyard where he killed the lion. He wasn’t supposed to be near dead bodies. Encountering God on Sunday has no impact on where I go on Friday night.

2. His hunger & appetites. He wasn’t supposed to touch a dead body much less eat honey from one. How many of us never allow God to change our longings?

3. His lusts or desires. His life is one big tale of uncontrolled and unbridled lust. Prostitutes and Philistine women were common fare.

4. His relationships. Being used by God had no impact on who he chose to associate with. He falls asleep with his head in the lap of his enemy.

Used by God but unchanged. He never allowed the God that operated through him to operate on him! It is much easier to settle for outward demonstration than to submit to God for inner transformation!

The Strongman was unchanged because he chose to compartmentalize his life! He loved that God was available when he needed Him, but at the same time God was not given rule and reign over his life. He had the ability to rationalize and justify sin while still wanting to taste the thrill of being empowered and anointed by God to do great things. He flirted with God. He flirted with anointing. His Sunday life had nothing to do with his Monday life. We cannot sow departure from God on Monday and expect to reap His presence on Sunday!

B. The Strongman loved the Strongman!

Samson’s issues stem from the fact that Samson loved Samson. His entire life, his use of his gifts boiled down to him looking out for him! His life was only for and about him. He was called and anointed to set people free and instead he simply cared about his pleasure and his freedom. He never learned to use the anointing for the benefit of others. He loved being used by God because it made him look good and fulfilled his need to be used. He had a stage. He had a platform. He had acclaim. He had success. The anointing was squandered on personal benefit and gain.

What we learn from Samson is that although it is possible to use the anointing for personal gain it is not permissible!

V. Close

So the question that we must ask today is not “Are you being used by God?” but rather “Are you being changed by God?”

I don’t really care if you sing under the anointing. What I want to know is do you live under the anointing? I really am not impressed that you serve under the anointing. I want to know if you date under the anointing? Do you pray under the anointing but shop on your own? Does the anointing impact your money, your travel, your friend selection, your movie selection, your music selection? Are you used by God but so unchanged that addictions remain?

The power of the Spirit without the Fruit of the Spirit is Samson’s story!

Are you content with knowing the power of God without knowing the character of God? The outer man is strong (used by God) but what about your inner man? Are you being changed by God?

Are you using anything God has given you for the good of others? Or is this really all about you? Whose freedom are you sacrificing for, working for, or praying for? Or is God just a sugar daddy that you turn to in order to get what you want?