Summary: Samson’s life story reminds us of the consequences of poor choices.
SAMSON, GOD’S STUMBLING HERO
Have you ever felt like a spiritual failure? If so, let me introduce to you others who have shared the same experiences in their lives: Samson, Jacob, Jonah, Martha, Peter, Thomas. Each of these people pictured for us in the Scripture had one thing in common. They were imperfect people, yet God still used them. And He wants to do the same things in and through us! So if you’ve ever felt like a sinner beyond help and beyond hope, I want to encourage you this morning. There is still hope.
Someone has said, “While there’s life, there is hope.” But the deeper truth is that only while there is hope is there life. If you take away the hope (or promise) that bad things will one day get better, then you reduce life to a painful burden too heavy and difficult to bear. To hope for better days is as natural as waking up in the morning. Alexander Pope wrote,
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blest."
Where do we look for to find this hope? Can we look to the political process and find hope? Hardly. We should pray and vote to insure that moral and godly candidates are elected. But don’t be deceived. Hope for America is not found in the political arena. Furthermore, hope may not be found in the ever changing fields of medicine and technology. Hope that lasts beyond the grave is not found in the accumulation of wealth.
Where is true, genuine hope found? It is found in the God of hope. The God of hope was able to use Jacob the cheater, bossy Martha, stubborn Jonah, and the womanizing Samson.
It’s hard for us to read the story of Samson’s life without thinking, “This is a tragedy, a waste of potential.” The story of Samson’s life is a story of so much good being wasted because of the way he allowed himself to be snared in the traps of Satan.
And yet the Bible tells us that Samson is a hero of the Christian faith. Hebrews 11:32 - “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets.” The Bible goes on to say that these men “subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”
There is a phrase that is a part of Samson’s life; and a part of our lives as well: “Out of weakness [they] were made strong.” It is a part of the lives of all of God’s people on this earth who are not yet perfect.
What do we see in the life of Samson? What lessons should we learn from him?
I. THE DEFECTS IN HIS CHARACTER
A. He Couldn’t Resist a Girl (14:1-3)
Samson lived in a time when his society was more permissive perhaps than any other time in the days of Israel. As a matter of fact, the society in which he lived was so permissive that the Bible says in Judges 17:6 “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Samson did what was right in his own eyes. He married a pagan woman, completely against the wishes of his parents and His God. The Bible acknowledges that God ultimately used this sorry episode in Samson’s life to His own purposes, but this doesn’t change the fact that Samson married out of the will of God and without any regard to God’s Word.
God had said that the Israelites were not to intermarry with pagans: Deut. 7:1-4 - “When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess, and He drives out many nations before you . . . and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you and you defeat them, you must completely destroy them. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, because they will turn your sons away from Me to worship other gods. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and He will swiftly destroy you.”
Samson began his ministry with the ill-fated marriage to this unnamed Philistine. He ended his ministry by being made a fool of by Delilah. And in between, the Bible tells us of a visit he made to a prostitute in Gaza. Samson couldn’t resist a girl.
God had called Samson to be a spiritual champion. He had called Samson to take the vow of a Nazirite. This involved a sacred vow that committed Samson to a life of complete dedication to God. Only four people in the Bible are named as being a Nazirite: Samson, Samuel, John the Baptist and Paul (cf. Judges 13; 1 Sam. 1; Luke 1:15-17; Acts 18:18; 21:22-26). Samson, however, forfeited his place as a spiritual champion because he couldn’t control his passions. And when he couldn’t control his passions, his passions controlled him. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s learn a lesson from this man Samson. God gave us the passions for the opposite sex that we have. He intended that they be as strong as they are. It’s normal for 7th and 8th graders to be “boy crazy,” or “girl crazy.” But remember this. God’s plan for the sexuality of men and women is this: one partner for life; your husband or your wife. If you don’t learn to control your passions, they will control you. The devil will be there to bring about your undoing. Don’t forfeit your place as a spiritual champion because you couldn’t say no to yourself.