Summary: Samson’s feats are legendary but it’s his flaws that prove to be fatal. His two greatest weaknesses were revenge and romance. In fact, his weakness for women often led him on the road to revenge. He was extremely gifted, but certainly not godly.
Samson: Dealing with Fatal Flaws
Today, we’re going to focus on Samson and the fatal flaws in his character and perhaps what we learn will help us to deal with our own fatal flaws. We won’t have the time this morning to hit all the highlights, or lowlights, of his life, but I do want to touch on some significant details in Judges Chapters 13-16. I won’t read all the verses to you because that would take too long, instead I’ll just tell you most of the story of Sampson.
Samson’s feats are legendary but it’s his flaws that prove to be fatal. His two greatest weaknesses were revenge and romance. In fact, his weakness for women often led him on the road to revenge. He was extremely gifted, but certainly not godly. He was strong on the outside, but had no control on the inside.
Sometimes we read the stories of Hannah or Gideon or Ruth and we think, “I could never be like them.” Not so with Samson. He’s a lot like us. Most of us know what it means to be tempted. All of us struggle at times with the desire for revenge. We’ve been there, we understand, and when we see Samson struggling and falling, we have an idea of what he’s going through. The truth of the matter is that there’s a little bit of Samson in all of us, and a whole lot of Samson in most of us. One of the things we learn from Samson’s life is that sin will always take us further than we want to go.
I want to begin with some important information from chapter 13. Listen to verse 1: “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.” The Philistines were a very warlike people who traced their origin back to the land of Egypt, and had remained an enemy of Israel for years. It’s interesting that this is the one place in the Book of Judges where we don’t read about the people crying out to God to deliver them from their oppression.
The game plan of the Philistines was simple. They conquered their enemies by taking them into their nation through intermarriage, and then they watched with glee as the religion of God’s people began to disappear as it blended into the culture around them. Does this sound familiar?
Today, the church is in danger of losing its impact because we’ve become so much a part of the society around us. For this reason, God had to break through. He appeared to a man and his wife and told them that they are going to have a son who will deliver Israel from the Philistines. From the very beginning, even while he was in his mother’s womb, he was to be “set apart” for the Lord’s work.
Verse 5 tells us that he was to be a Nazarite. If you go back to Numbers 6, it describes four commitments a Nazarite must keep during the period of his vow: He was to avoid any contact with grapes and he couldn’t drink wine. He was to never touch a dead body of any kind. And he was to let his hair grow and never get it cut. The forth, and most important is, he must be dedicated to the Lord throughout his life.
Before we leave chapter 13, I want you to hear a key phrase in verse 5. It says, Samson “…will begin the deliverance of Israel…” As we go through the story we’ll discover that in reality he never did any delivering, because he never delivered himself. Since he never dealt with his fatal flaws, he only “began” to deliver Israel.
Also it says in verse 25 that “the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…” He was set apart and he was stirred by the Spirit of God. Samson had everything he needed to accomplish his task. He was both energized and equipped. Compared to other Biblical heroes, he had more than anyone else. And yet, he let it all slip away.
Chapter 14 shows us seven stupid steps that Samson took.
1. He Went to The Wrong Place. Verse 1 says,
“Samson went down to Timnah.” The writer is telling us two things in that little phrase.
First, he is telling us something about geography. Timnah was in Philistine territory, about four miles down a ridge from Samson’s village of Zorah. But this also tells us about the decline in Samson’s spiritual life. In his first public act, he leaves the land of Israel for the land of the Philistines. To put it bluntly, Samson left God’s people and headed south spiritually.