Th: Profiles in Courage
Pr: WE MUST HAVE THE COURAGE TO OVERCOME FAILURE.
TS: We will find in our study of Judges 13-16 how Samson overcame his failures.
The _____ component of Samson’s story is the…
RMBC 27 July 03 AM
ILL Notebook: Strength (Really bad dude)
From Bad Beginning to Happy Endings, Ed Young
An old fellow had been in the north woods for weeks by himself, camping out. Each night at dusk he built a campfire, boiled water for coffee, and took out his skillet to fry up some bacon for dinner. As he was sitting by the fire one night, the water boiling and the bacon sizzling, he heard a tremendous racket in the brush. The sound was like a roaring freight train, and as trees fell over and branches snapped, the biggest bear he’d ever seen lumbered into the clearing. And on the bear’s back was a tough-looking man holding a seven-foot live rattlesnake in his hands.
The man shouted and screamed as he brought the bear to a skidding halt, bit the head off the rattlesnake, and flung it into the brush. Then he slid off the bear’s back, turned, and hit him between the eyes, knocking him unconscious.
The camper was speechless as this wild-eyed renegade walked over to the fire, tossed the boiling coffee down his throat, drank hot grease from the skillet, and ate all of the bacon in one bite.
As he wiped his hands with poison ivy and slapped the bear back into consciousness, he turned to the camper and said, “Partner, I’m sorry I can’t stay around and visit with you a while, but I’ve got to keep moving ‘cause a real bad dude is chasing me.”
1. Have you ever met a really bad dude?
Have you ever met someone that just really scared you?
Well, as we continue our series of “Profiles in Courage,” we meet someone that had the same kind of effect on people.
In fact, a whole nation fears him and his homeland treats him with a degree of wariness.
His name was Samson, and he…
2. Samson was a gifted man with tremendous strength.
As we give consideration to this man, we are going to see that he was extraordinary.
He was a man that God blessed with great opportunity.
He had all the makings to become one of the all-time greats.
But, even though he had great potential…
3. A broad examination of Samson’s life brings us to the conclusion that he was a failure.
Though he was greatly gifted, he was not a zealous servant of the Lord.
Samson’s walk with God was, at best, erratic.
His life is rampant with reckless adventures, the acting on momentary impulses.
His thirst for revenge and his weakness for women leads us to conclude that his life was squandered.
4. Yet, we find Samson making “The Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11:32-34).
When the writer of Hebrews notes those that excelled in the demonstration of faith, hear what he says…
 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets —  who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,  quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
This is so amazing!
How does he get in?
Well, let’s consider the story of Samson…
I. The first component of Samson’s story is the PRODIGY.
1. Samson was a miracle baby (13:2-3).
 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children.  And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.”
We know from our previous studies of the Hebrew culture, not having children was considered a tragedy.
So when the angel of the Lord approaches Manoah’s wife with a message about bearing a son, this is more than exciting.
This was a miracle.
And as is always the case in these types of circumstances, this son was going to special.
This son would become an important leader for Israel and be a blessing for his homeland.
2. Samson was a man with a calling (13:5).
Hear the instructions for this set of godly parents…
 “…you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”
This is a description of the Nazirite vow.
Typically, this vow was voluntary.
But Scriptures do reveal a select company of which Samson is the first.
Samson will later be joined by Samuel and John the Baptist as those who are divinely appointed to do great things for God from their conception.
The Nazirite vow was fulfilled by three major principles:
· Abstaining from the fruit of the vine;
· Refraining from cutting the hair;
· Avoiding contact with dead bodies.
For Samson, becoming a Nazirite was a high privilege and a heavy responsibility.
To get it right, he would have to remain humble.
His duty was to achieve God’s purposes.
The Philistines had been oppressing Israel.
The real danger, though, was that the people were unaware of it.
They accepted the rule of the Philistines with apathy.
Samson was called on to begin the liberation that would end during the reign of David.
II. The second component of Samson’s story is the PRIDE.
Samson grows up under the influence of his godly parents, but it is clear that he is choosing his own direction.
1. Samson had chutzpah (14:1-3).
Notice what he says and does…
 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines.  Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.”  But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”
That last phrase easily sums up a great deal of Samson’s life.
“She is right in my eyes.”
It is a statement that is an agreement to the negative characterization of the book of Judges: “the people did what was right in their own eyes.”
So Samson is a man of his times.
And despite his parents’ objections, he wants this Philistine woman as his wife.
She is right in his eyes.
2. Samson was careless about his calling.
He knew the source of his superior strength.
He knew that the Spirit of God drove him.
He knew that he had been called to live a life of separation.
Nevertheless, he chose to intermarry with a woman of the enemy in direct violation to God’s Word.
Not only that, he rejected the godly counsel of his parents.
And as we read on in the text, we see that his commitment is compromised.
He touches what is dead.
He holds back information from his parents.
He does what he wants to do.
Which brings us to…
III. The third component of Samson’s story is the PUNISHMENT.
1. Samson executed judgment on the Philistines (15:15).
 And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men.
Though too often his motives were more than suspect, Samson was God’s agent to bring judgment on the Philistines.
What was clear to Samson was that the Philistines were the enemies.
They were not friends.
And because he was invincibly strong, he was not afraid.
It was his lot, however, to fight them alone.
He had no human help.
He had no support.
He did not bring together an army.
In fact, the men of Judah were very content to sit idly by because their preference was peaceful coexistence with the Philistines.
Their faith was compromised.
They would not battle for the land God had given them.
They would not battle for the land that they were assigned to take as their own.
So in this part of the story (from which our verse came), with a calm courage walks into the Philistine camp.
And in short order, he defeats his enemy single-handedly, mowing them down like grass.
Samson was obviously superior to the Philistines whenever he battled them.
He constantly embarrassed them, a severe blow to their pride at every confrontation.
After the battle in chapter 15, the Philistines give up on the cycle of vengeance…for the time being.
And it is here that…
2. Samson became a recognized and accepted leader for the Israelites (15:20).
 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.
This appears to be a time of peace for Samson.
He walked in God’s ways and Israel had true peace and stability apart from the Philistines.
But this is not the end of the story, for…
IV. The fourth component of Samson’s story is the PASSION.
Even though it is a time of peace for Israel, Samson’s sinful flaw continues to dominate his soul and come to fruition.
He was severely flawed when it came to sensuality and promiscuity.
And the Philistines figure this out.
So, as we come to chapter 16, we find that Samson is set up.
The Philistines won’t try to take him without knowing the secret of his strength, but they figure out that a woman may be able to do it.
And they find the woman: Delilah.
She is willing to play Samson.
She is more than willing to betray his confidence.
And so we find that…
1. Samson was deceived and controlled by his own lust for Delilah (16:15-17).
After attempting to find out three times what caused his strength, Delilah continues to harp away at the mystery…
 And she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies.”  And when she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death.  And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”
In spite of his great strength, Samson is not strong enough to control his own impulses.
He has gotten to the point that there was nothing he wouldn’t do for her.
So, even though it was obvious she was laying a trap, he still succumbed to the temptation.
As she nags and cries, Samson does not sense the danger.
So he tells her and lulls him to sleep on her lap.
And what happened?
2. Samson’s moral blindness led to his physical humiliation (16:20).
 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
Samson now knew betrayal.
He now knew the betrayal he himself had been rendering toward God.
For as he gave away the secret to Delilah, and then lost his hair, he also lost something even more precious.
He lost the presence of the Lord.
He thought he had it all under control, but instead, he found that God had reluctantly left.
Samson was powerless.
When the Philistines got a hold of him, they bored out his eyes, put him in prison and worked him.
They blinded him, bound him and broke him.
He suffered the indignities of mutilation, incarceration and humiliation.
The man God called to make the difference was now in a prison that was of his own making.
V. The fifth component of Samson’s story is the PRAYER.
1. Samson became the target of derision (16:25).
 And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he entertained them. They made him stand between the pillars.
Samson had become the laughingstock of the enemy.
At this great feast in honor of their god, Dagon, they called for Samson to be brought out so they could ridicule him and amuse themselves.
It gave them great delight to mock the God of Samson.
But the hours, days and months in prison had not been wasted time for Samson.
As he had languished in prison, he had reflected on his own errors.
And he came to an important conclusion…
2. Samson finally recognized his dependence (16:28).
He finally utters a prayer that shows he is not relying on himself anymore.
And instead of doing what is right in his own eyes, he seeks a final opportunity to serve God.
He asks for power to defeat his enemies.
 Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”
Note that he says the word, “please.”
God honors that prayer.
He restores Samson’s strength and he successfully pulls down the Temple of Doom.
And in doing so, he becomes a true judge of Israel, willing to die and sacrifice his own life in order to defeat the enemy.
It was a prayer of dependence.
It was a statement of faith.
So…what do you think?
1. Did Samson finish well (Hebrews 12:1)?
Note what else that same writer of Hebrews said…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…
One thing that Samson certainly taught us well is that he who commits sin is a slave to sin.
He kept toying with temptation.
He did it his way.
He kept playing with fire.
And he got burned.
You see, sin promises freedom, but it delivers chains.
Sin promises fulfillment, but it delivers failure.
Sin held Samson up.
He squandered a great portion of his life.
And even though his life looked like a failure, he didn’t end it that way.
So, Samson teaches us that…
2. WE MUST HAVE THE COURAGE TO OVERCOME FAILURE.
ILL Sin (fallin in the water)
A visitor at a fishing dock asked an old fisherman who was sitting there, “If I were to fall in the water, would I drown?” It was a different way of asking how deep the water was, but the fisherman had a good answer. “Naw,” he said. “Fallin’ into the water doesn’t drown anybody. It’s staying under it that does.”
Too many of us are content to stay under the water, and we are drowning.
We are controlled by lust.
Anger, bitterness, and revenge are always on our mind.
We desire position, power, and control.
We are known for jealousy and greed.
But here is the great truth…
We are not beyond hope!
Let the hair grow back and let the Spirit do His work in you.
3. When we realize our own stupidity, it is then we find the grace to do well.
We can become who God has called us to be.
For we have the perfect champion sent to us.
All we have to do is trust in our Savior’s awesome strength, and we do not have to be known for our failure.
We can know grace.
For when we come to the cross, we find success!
BENEDICTION: [Counselors are ]
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.